All good things must come to an end, as they say. And so it was, on a warm late summer's day that I concluded my final soil sample extractions and began to bring my tools home. As I wandered around the site collecting stakes and tape, buckets and boxes, watering cans and the likewise, there was a sense that a great chapter was coming to a close. Despite all this de-cluttering and tidying, I did not pack away my memories; some of those will remain at the site for many years to come.
The final thing to do would be to re-fill the trenches; a three day process that really marked the end of the project's field-based work. It seemed a shame (after the toil of excavating all of that soil) to have to put it all back, but I couldn't give the land back with trenches. In some ways, at least the next occupant will have well-turned soil. It almost makes the process of 'double digging' seem rather inappropriate.
As I packed my last barrow, Sally (who had the plot next to us and would often come over to greet us with a small edible offering) approached the gate. In her hand was a box of eggs; fresh eggs laid that day by her modest population of domestic chickens. I delightfully received them and we said goodbye for perhaps the last time.
Before I go on, perhaps I should tell you where all the vegetables went. They were extracted in late August/early September and each one was measured thoroughly. From my crop of 85 potatoes, I ended up with about 700 of them! Despite a slow start, I ended up with quite a few bucket loads of carrots, and an equally large yield of turnips. The turnips had quite a short life 'out the ground' and we decided that after the measurements, they were probably not fit for human consumption. That said, my family enjoyed many an evening's dinner with home-grown carrots and the last time I checked they were still going through the potatoes!
Just before we finished, I popped back home and brought out a box; a time-capsule full of photos and information about the project, including some facts from 2015, the price of bread, milk, butter, that sort of thing. Buried deep is a piece of history, and who knows? Perhaps in 100 years time, another young pedologist will do a similar project and come across it. Perhaps an archaeologist? Given the fact 250 carrots were grown nearby, I wouldn't be surprised if a rabbit happened upon it!