Projarama: Mulch Experiment
Every gardening thing I've been reading lately says tilling is old school. As a way to get rid of weeds, all it does is spread seeds and tubers. As a way to aerate and prepare the soil, it works well, making a perfect bed FOR THE WEEDS. And me, that's exactly what I've been doing for 3 years.
In her Lasagna Gardening book series, Patricia Lanza advocates building up instead. She had a brain fart when walking through a forest one day: mother nature doesn't till. She relies on fallen organic material, worms, and bugs to do the job of improving the dirt. (Ever seen a nurse log?)
Lanza's method: pick a spot where you want the garden, stake it out, then start layering stuff on top of the lawn or whatever is there: newspaper first, as a weed barrier, then peat moss, then green compost material, then brown compost material, then woodchips or another traditional mulch. Let this sit through the winter, and in spring, just scatter seeds right in the layers, or pull some layers aside and drop the plants in right on top of the newspaper layer.
I decided to start with a small patch and see if it works for me. Two layers so far: wet newspaper (Ah, all the text that doesn't get read! There is so much of it in the world! Are we writers crazy or what?) and peat moss, right on top of the grassy weeds that were getting ready to flower. Hopefully the critters will not dig.