I learned a new technique today for starting the garden - taken from the work of Emelia Hazelip (check out her video's of synergistic farming). It is this simple: figure out where you want your rows or circles or spirals to be, and lay down cardboard or newpaper. Then cover with straw. That's it! No plowing, no harrowing, no rototilling. Not even turning a shovel. No pulling weeds and activating all the weed seeds in the soil. This method holds all the life going on already in the soil. It honors all the systems already in place for a vital garden.
So this is what I did.
I have to date, purchased 8 bales of wheat straw ($48). The heaviest work was to move the bales from the truck to the garden spot - you might want to find someone to move them for you. This is the hardest work of the day!
I laid newspaper down where I want the rows to be, and laid a bale of straw, and cut its cord. The bale will open like a flower to show flakes = see how I did it here:
Then, I laid each flake out flat until the hay and newspaper were all laid out. Then, I went back and "fluffed" each flake - making it as much as a foot tall:
All told, in two hours, I prepared a garden 32' by 32''. A big garden! I incorporated existing rosemary and rue plants, and a native Winged Elm tree. Then I sat in the shade of the Elm and sipped cool water.