I've been looking into permaculture a bit recently. There is really a lot of good information out there on the internet just for the cost of the time to find and study it. I started from ground zero as far as knowing anything at all about it, and I've learned enough to feel confident about doing some new things in my garden this year.
One of the things I've learned about is "no till gardening", or "sheet mulching", also known as lasagna gardening. There's a really good article at Ready Nutrition, which is a wonderful blog I follow, on the subject of no till gardening. I'm glad I have learned about this now so I can get it started over the winter and begin experimenting with it all in the spring. Journey to Forever has an online library with lots of good information as well. There is so much more, but I can't list them all. This is just a starting place.
Essentially, it's a plan to build your soil layer upon layer, as you would mulch, and as it would in nature. For instance, a forest, everything falls to the ground in layers throughout the seasons to create a rich, complex soil. If you have a compost bin and build your own mulch, it's much the same process. There's a good explanation of the process here at another great blog, Permaculture Pathways. You have a layer of green/wet, such as plant material or kitchen scraps, followed by a layer of dry/brown, such as newspaper and leaves as well as a few stick and bulky items to keep the whole thing aerated. I have always put a few shovels of dirt between layers, but I don't know that that is necessary. You can add bacteria and enzymes as activators, even worms, but nature's magic will take over and you will have good, healthy dirt. If you layer your garden in that same way you should attain the same results. Come spring you just plant right through the top layer, as a seed falling to the floor of the forest.
God is so good. He amazes me. It's not new information, not by a long shot. God gave it all to us in the beginning. It's wisdom of the ages that's been all but lost in modern culture to things like science and the educators who know so much more, after all. I am sure it will take some time, maybe several growing seasons to come into it's own, but eventually, if I allow it to go to this 'more natural' state, it stands to reason that it will strike a balance. During the process I will learn what to do to adjust for some of the bad things in my garden. I'm sure I'll be dealing with over populations of certain bugs and weeds. I will learn about the things I need to grow to attract the good ones and repel the bad, but I can clearly see the sense it makes already. I will be doing this from now on.
Our growing season is long here, so I still have plants in the ground. They are starting to die back for the most part, and many of the rest aren't producing much now, so I'm going to get out there and start preparing things. I may get rid of the tomato plants next week. I still have a few with some green tomatoes on them, but they aren't ripening. I don't think they get enough hours of sunlight now, or maybe it's a warmth issue. At any rate, I'm going to pick the green ones (and maybe fry them! Mmmm...) and pull the plants soon. Tomatoes are particularly nasty to work around if you let the frost get to them. I planted them in such a huge mass that I will have to get some of them out of there entirely. The rest I suppose I will chop up and leave as a layer.
Our melon and squash vines were practically decimated by mildew. I have to pull them off of the fences, but they are half dead already. Mildew is a terrible problem, and it's grown all over my entire garden. It's in the soil. For a long time I meticulously trimmed off the infected leaves and vines, and sprayed and fussed, but it got ahead of me no matter what I did, so unfortunately, underneath all the layers in both of my garden areas there is mildew. I know there must be some in the compost as well. I think I'll try to get the worst ones out and then just go with what's left. Hopefully if I use this method of gardening the temperatures of the composting going on in the different layers will be enough to kill off the darn stuff. If not, I would have had to contend with it anyway, because it's in the soil that's already there. I wish I had a good answer for how to deal with this stuff. It is a nightmare in a garden. I'm confident that God factored that in to His grand design and that there is restoration in there someplace.
I have plenty of fallen leaves, papers and things, dry stuff for the next layer. My husband brought home some big sheets of cardboard to lay across the whole thing. It all seems so strange because it's contrary to what I've always been told to do. I will try to document the goings on and post some pictures. I'm pretty excited.
"And He said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; and should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knows not how." ~ Mar 4:26-27