Over the last three months I have been experimenting with different types of mulch materials and different ways of preparing the raised beds.
Using what I have to hand is the first priority and I have an abundance of river mulch, small twigs, bark, sticks and leaves washed down the river and left in tide marks on my river beach. Its easy to collect and breaks down fast, perhaps a little too fast as the beds I prepared using just this mulch on top are pretty much out of control with weeds.
My vision of a Permaculture kitchen garden doesnt involve hours and hours of weeding and so a good mulch that stops the weeds is important if Im going to get the project running efficiently and have time to do other things.
The winner looks like a cardboard sheet mulch followed by a topping of river mulch.
On the beds I prepared like this Ive done no weeding and the soil under this double combo is moist and full of life. I have a good source for cardboard so it the method ive decided on for all new beds and for replanting the other beds as I start to rotate the crops
An alternative or in addition to sheet mulch is to plant ground cover crops, these pumpkin and squash are shading out other plants, ideal for the pathways between raised beds.