I thought I'd start a new thread to deal with these 2 topics. I'm in the process of converting my garden to BTE, and seeing wonderful results. I've been gardening under mulch for years. Pretty much, I hate seeing bare soil, though my wide beds will be a bit bare until the vegetation has grown enough to cover the soil. Once it gets to that point, any weeds are not likely to compete enough to be a problem. This season, about 75% of my garden foot print is covered with wood chips. That's a lot of hauling. Since I have to do it one wheel barrow full at a time. The goal is to get those chips 4 - 6" thick over the entire garden 32 x 48. I put in an orchard late last summer, and have been working on a BTE approach with that as well. I have about 1/2 of the trees well protected with chips. The rest is growing up to a tangle of weeds. As time and energy allow, I put down a layer of cardboard to mash the weeds, and follow up with the wood chips. In the parts of the orchard that have been chipped, There has been an appreciable improvement in soil texture. I needed a pick axe to dig holes for the trees. Heavy, compacted clay, with lots of rocks. Rocks have been moved to the back of the orchard to start a rock wall (north) and should provide some microclimate improvement as they catch the sun. When digging to set some plants in the orchard "understory" last weekend, the soil was much looser, some worm activity, with the very beginning of a humus layer started. I was able to loosen soil with shovel and garden fork. FYI, Each tree has a circle of daffodils to repel voles, and garlic to repel other nasties. Over time, the understory will be planted with flowering plants to attract pollinators and beneficial insects. For now, there is sorghum, dent corn, strawberries, and squash planted here and there to take advantage of the bare space. Trees are being pruned to keep their mature size at around 8'. Hugelkulture: Started last summer. 12' completed. I did not have top soil available, so had to modify my design from the "they say" peeps design. Top is capped with weedy debris from garden clean up, planting holes lined with rotting hay, filled with top soil and compost and a bit of my old chicken bedding. The whole thing, after planting, is covered with more rotting hay and grass clippings. 3 hills of watermelon, 4 hills of squash. Old garlic cloves scattered here and there. Squash is now starting to run a bit. Completion of this project on hold due to medical hold on chain saw use. So... adding a bit of lasagna garden to keep the project going. Working up a 6 x 6 addition. Finished project will be about 35' x 8'.