For several years we have been employing a number of soil amending mulches to insulate and create a 'skin', as Paul Gautschi calls it, that will utilize the natural processes (rains, snow, frost & thaw) of these months to enhance our soils. One year we put three inches of composted horse manure on all but a couple of our beds and wouldn't you know everything, but those two, was easy to plant in, while those left bare nearly needed a tiller to free up the soil. Not only were the mulched beds less labor intensive, but they produced more abundantly as well.
Only this year did we get several loads of wood chips, enough to get us started on a sizable area- on grassy, never tilled ground - and have a chance to see the mimicry of God's work and it's affects into the next year. Already we saw how it fed the soil and we enjoyed bigger black berries, produced more abundantly, for a longer duration than we ever had along our fence line. The berries were delicious and juicy despite never being watered with anything other than the rains that came - remember it was record drought season here this year. We have begun putting this area to bed and using some of the excess for a new berry patch. The former hoop house area is now full of Marion Berries, Boysenberries, Logan Berries, Thorn-less Black Berries, and several varieties of Raspberries. These were all a very special gift, from the Lord, through various people, and we couldn't be more thrilled! We're anticipating our largest harvest yet and look forward to reaping the rewards of the hard work!
Although we had only enough time and space available to add the wood chips and chopped leaves/greenery to our pathways this spring/summer; we see our paths maintaining body (not compacting but springing back after we walk) and had several luscious weeds and plants easily starting in it, and easily uprooted, including several strawberry runners!
In the past, using wood chips in a select area, we did not have the same results. We lost a large number of herbs with a chip mulching done over one season and all our strawberries as well, while other areas flourished - like the rhubarb on our smaller hugelkultur. We're not certain where we erred... did we not have the chopped greenery too? Did we apply too thinly/thickly?
The years and experiences the Lord gives us are meant to be times of fruitfulness for the Him, which equates to lots of learning, and we count all these experiences as such. Just as important is accepting and using those mulching materials the Lord provides. They may not be wood chips; it may be dirty wool, composted horse manure, lawn trimmings, leaves, rotting straw/hay, livestock bedding, etc. As Joel Salatin encouraged in his book You Can Farm, we've learned to take all we can get and apply it liberally for it will only enhance our soils!
We have done further study with video tours of Paul's property posted by a 'You Tuber'. We've also learned he now has a book written by another man, David Devine. Paul's expressed zeal for intimate communication with the Lord, in spirit, is inspiring and points to where true wisdom comes from, the Lord!
And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the sea shore. 1Kings 4:29
And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding. Job 28:28