I'm busy right now with some of that "direct composting."
Many farmers till crop residue into the soil at the end of the season. There are some benefits but my rototiller's performance isn't up to doing a very good job with so much material at this time of year. The tractor guy is scheduled to show up in the big veggie and make it look a little better for the winter months. I'll have days of work with Rogue the Rototiller next spring or need Tractor Guy back. Neither of these practices have a lot of appeal. He can do a fairly good job out there and so can Rogue but there's the expense/labor.
I avoid just leaving all that frost-killed material on the soil surface through the long winter months in another way in the little veggie garden. One in every three beds is dug out and all the plants are buried to compost in place. I've been doing this in that garden for just about 20 years and it works well.
In the big veggie garden, I essentially have unlimited ground ... too much. I can ignore it and let Tractor Guy deal with it but I just bet I could be a better steward by growing cover crops and rotating the garden area. Even doing this on a smaller scale could be beneficial but how not to turn this into a monumental expense or task presents important questions. Having my own tractor would be one solution but I can't justify that anymore. Still, I have to find a way to keep the neighbors happy and avoid having Code Enforcement show up while, at the same time, having a productive garden and a healthy diet and activities.
Growing a succession of cover crops would be great. Peas in spring, probably multiple plantings of sunflowers through the summer and something that would winter-kill like oats in the fall might be a good regimen. The currently unused ground would be in continuous production in a soil building process. Would it really be better than doing nothing with the ground other than weed control? Sowing with lawn grass seed and mowing it every Saturday is the other common practice in the neighborhood. There are also neighboring alfalfa fields but they aren't kidding me. Custom field work on 2 and 3 acres just amounts to an expense. The value of the hay isn't making up the production costs. I'm not responsible for that much ground ... Thank Heavens!
Retreating to the little veggie garden is a possibility but one needs challenges in life as long as things don't get outta hand, with too much money slipping through the
We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks