(Thanks to Mike Thayer for letting me borrow his camera to take these!)
Paul showed us how to use a board to level the bed. The same thing is done to level cement, he said. (Having read so much permaculture stuff I'm not so sure level beds are best--I'll let you know what I think in the long term).
There's Paul, Lana, Mike, and Julie.
Here we're putting woodchips from Paul's (biodiesel) truck onto the beds. The internal paths have been marked by footprints. The night before I marked them out with string.
Mike took the following pictures.
That's me in the back.
The path design is inspired by spiritual labyrinths and permaculture keyhole beds. Later I fixed the nearest curve to make it more curvy.
Pat and Leslie also showed up over the course of the evening.
Paul left me with many seeds and some Jerusalem Artichoke roots, which I finally planted the following Wednesday.
Now I have plants growing (fava beans and peas are doing well) and aphids eating the cabbage starts that Kimberly of SDFNL gave me.
I should have some other pictures eventually.
The sheet-mulched section is also doing well!
Thanks to you four for helping me get started.
When Paul showed up, I'd been trying to lead Lana and Pat in the double-digging approach, but the soil at the north end was very hard. I said to Paul that I did not think we'd finish the whole thing that day. He just looked at me and proceeded to tell us what to do (and to do most of it himself, while demonstrating, very quickly!). We did not double-dig the whole thing. Mostly we moved the soil to create the beds in the space I wanted.
After they left I had the problem of the soil being bone dry and rock hard only a few inches down (primarily at the north end).
As Jeavons suggests, gradually letting water soak in and loosen clods/rock-hard clay over the course of several days helped a lot. And by that time some rains had come.