Composting is more complicated than I realised. Last year, Dad built a container out of old pallets. In Autumn I chucked in cabbage stalks, potato tops and all the raffia-like stuff that gets left over after a pea and bean bonanza. As advised, I made sure the heap was wet through before adding its crowning glory – the tarp. The whole thing looked exactly as I thought a compost heap should look.

But come Spring, everything sub-tarp is dry as a crust. It has done its job too well and acted as a giant magnifying glass for the sun. Visiting worms and beetles must find it a bitter disappointment, like arriving at a half-built hotel.

Further shortcomings are revealed when free muck is delivered. I try and shovel horse turds onto the heap but they roll out through the gaps between the pallet slats. As so often with this allotment lark, I will have to think again.

Perhaps carpet is the way to go. It is old school, I know. And  the princess in me shudders at its tendency to harbour slime and the disciples of slime. Then again, a few years of trying to grow things has wrought a change upon me.

Before: ‘Eww, look at that dirty soggy carpet. How vile!’

Now: (admiringly) ‘That carpet is keeping the heap warm while allowing in the rain and air that allows microorganisms to break the carbon-containing waste down through aerobic respiration!’ (or something like that)

As Dad has always done, I’ve begun to assess things by how they work rather than by how they look. If only this process had begun years ago! It would have saved me many youthful mistakes in the romance department.

I’m told natural fibres are the way to go. Over the next few weeks, on my travels here and there, I stop at many a promising-looking skip for a rummage, only to find that a deplorable lack of quality has set in nowadays as regards home furnishings. All I can find is foam-backed.

Dad has rolls of pure wool carpet stored in his garage from the house we lived in when I was eleven. But he won’t let any of it go. ‘That’s decent stuff, that is. You might be glad of that in a few years time.’

The thought of that horribly familiar swirly blue pattern covering any floor in the house I share with Mr MS makes me feel unutterably depressed and as if my life has come to nothing. So I scuttle to a skip outside a half refurbished pub in a nearby town.

But brown and red nylon is all I find, that looks as though it has already spent years atop a compost heap. I decide to try another tack. I go into an actual carpet shop and ask if they’ve any spare.

The chap serving shakes his head sadly. But a man I’d taken for another customer says, ‘Scrap carpet? We’ve tons of the stuff at our warehouse. Just tell my son his Dad sent you.’

He gives me directions to a place near a level crossing. But because I think I know where it is, I don’t really listen and get completely lost, even crossing the border into Lancashire, which as an inhabitant of Yorkshire is something I will have to atone for at a later date.

Suddenly it’s all too much. Why am I spending time and petrol on a wild goose chase? Composting – I’m through with it.

I take the most direct route home. Of course, that’s when I find the level crossing and the carpet warehouse. I walk round the back and immediately find a skip with an Axminster rug on top that looks exactly the right size.

Inside the shop, the lad behind the till confirms that I can have it for nowt. I nearly hug him.

Down at the plot, the rug fits perfectly. The compost heap looks resplendent.

So now we are ‘carp’ rather than ‘tarp’. The compost is coming on a treat. It certainly should, considering it now enjoys a higher quality covering than our living room floor.

Drawings by Janis Goodman