This is what my garden looks like after a winter under straw. The soil is dark, rich and friable. There are earthworms galore. It’s a beautiful thing.
Nature did its work for me, and the soil hardly needed turning. In fact, all I did was pull back the straw, pull out some weeds, created furrows and hills and planted the seeds.
If you look closely at the first photo, you’ll notice I broke the bed up into sections by laying straw as pathways. Each of the growing areas are easily accessed without my needing to walk on the growing areas. I will walk on the straw-covered pathways.
What you can’t see is that beneath and directly alongside the straw pathways, I am direct composting. In other words, I collect vegetable and fruit scraps in a small covered bucket in my kitchen and every day or so I dig a hole under or alongside a pathway and bury the scraps. As they decompose, they will continue to enrich the soil.
There’s a tall pile of straw in the corner of my garden. I will use this straw as the season progresses to replace the straw on the pathways and to surround my plants as they grow. Right now, most things are in seeds, so I don’t want to cover the areas too thickly with any mulch. I have a very light spreading of broken up straw on the actual growing beds.