I decided to do a little experiment in the front of our duplex. I decided to combine the Biointensive double dug bed and the newspaper sheet mulching of Forest Gardening fame. The area I had to work with was about 10 feet wide and 7 feet deep. I left a small 4 by 7 plot there on the south side with some Solomons Seal, tulips, ferns, and a small oak tree. I'm not sure what we'll plant there but it will probably be a combination of shade tolerant perennials and some edible annuals. In the first picture I have dug the first row out and put it on a plastic sheet to use for the last row. I then spread a small amount of compost I picked up at the local free compost pile. It was pretty nice stuff, not too much sticks and garbage. I had barely enough to count, but at least it was something. I then dug the next row and filled the first row. With my crappy shovel I loosened the second row up. I noticed some clay compaction.
You can see my progress. The soil was dry but nice and black. I mixed in the pine needles that lay about from the big white pine north of the house.
It was sweaty work, and took about an hour and a half. When I was done I raked the soil so that it was somewhat even. Then I soaked a whole bunch of newspaper and laid it down on top of the the loose soil, overlapping the edges by six inches or so, 5 to 8 pages thick.
The paper dried quickly, and I noticed it blowing away, so I decided to go get some more free compost, two garbage bags worth, and spread it on top to keep it from blowing away. Now it kind of looks like shit, but what can you do. At some point I want to get about 4 times as much compost to lay down on top, and also a nice layer of mulch to retain moisture and prevent overheating of the soil, but I'm done for the day and I have work tomorrow and a full weekend so maybe I'll get to that next week at some point.