I started deep mulch about 30 years ago. My BIL got me hooked on Ruth Stout. She was a pioneer of DL gardening, and primarily used hay. If you can find any of her books, they are a good read if not a bit quirky. She forces you to get outside the "gardening box" that so many of us grew up in. You know the drill... "they say this, and they say that." So, what "they say" must be so, b/c "they said it". How many of us actually stop to ask the question: "Does that make sense?" "Does that mirror what I see working so well in the world around me, and what has worked so very well in the world around me since the creation of said world?
Deep litter, sheet composting, hugel kulture, Back to Eden. Deep mulch. Green manure. I employ all of these methods. How often do you see bare soil in an area that has NOT been impacted by human activity? Any time you see bare soil in a natural environment that has not been disturbed by humans, you see an environment that is in a state of collapse. IMO, bare soil is never a good thing (unless you are in the process of planting something there!)
Even weeds can be used to your advantage in the garden and yard: I consider them to be a green manure crop, chicken feed, human feed (dandelion greens, lambs quarters) and they make an awesome green manure tea. When ever I am out driving, I take note of the state of the yards. Many of the "in town lawns" are totally decimated this time of the year by grubs. The grass roots are consumed by the larvae, and the crows and skunks move in to enjoy the high protein bounty. Patches of dead sod all over the place. Most of those lawns have been "treated" or managed by a lawn care company. Faithfully sprayed and fertilized many times/year. Fertilizer, herbicide, insecticides. Only to result in wide spread grub infestation every year. My MIL has such a service, but they have sprayed her lawn heavily enough that she does not get the turf die off from grub damage. However, she notes that she no longer has birds visiting her lawn.
Healthy lawns are not sprayed. They have an abundance of weeds growing WITH the grass: Creeping Charlie, dandelions, forget-me-nots, plantain, violets. Those lawns are not quite as attractive to the Japanese Beetles as the monoculture "golf course" style lawns. There is a healthy balance between grass and weeds, enough grubs to feed the birds, but not enough to destroy the turf.
I also note gardens that are absolutely pathetic: How often do you see a garden plopped in the middle of a lawn? Some of those gardens look like someone deliberately removed about 6" of top soil from that one area of the yard. All that is left is a stony subsoil depression in the middle of the lawn. I had a co worker who had such a garden. She complained about it, and said that she had to haul in "dirt" every couple of years to fill the garden back up. She was so frustrated that she was planning to give up gardening. When I ?'d her about the disappearing soil, I got the standard reply: "Every fall, we clean up the garden, and I'm not going to spend my time shaking the soil off all those roots." I asked her what she did with the plants she removed. "I haul them to the dump." Mystery solved. You can't expect the soil to feed you if you don't feed it. Put in more than you take out. If she practiced deep mulch gardening, if she composted all that fantastic material in the fall instead of hauling it off like it was some contaminant, if she did BTE, she'd have a new problem: A very productive garden that feeds her family as well as half of the neighborhood, and a garden with healthy soil that spills out of the garden space and invades the lawn every year.
That was convincing! I laughed about the hole in the ground garden because that's what we inherited here. And I haven't been sure what to do about it. I'm not a very experienced gardener but the traditional methods don't make a whole lot of sense to me... So... I'm listening!
I think I've mentioned that my in-laws had the farm for 30 years before we took over when we lived in CA. For 30 years they had been dumping animal litter on the garden area, which was a 3-plot rotation: garden, then pigs, then fallow. One year, our neighbors decided to grow a garden, and boy, they were going to show us how it's done. He came home with all these brightly colored bags of poisons and fertilizer from one of those "big names" and planted a garden directly across the fence from ours. I remember they had to water their garden about 3 times as often as we did, and the sweet corn in particular was an eye opener. We were growing the same variety as they were, but ours was about 2 feet taller, with huge well-filled ears (which may have been partly because they were getting the added pollination from his plants, since that was the way the prevailing winds blew, lol) and a deeper green color. They also were ready to harvest about a week earlier.
That was the last time those neighbors ever grew a garden...