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Tammy is right on the money! I also use straw, the older the better, I use straw in the big rolls that is 3-4 yrs old (also breaks down quicker to help amend the soil) I usually put mine about 6 inches deep and on top of a soaker or drip hose. you can also use grass clippings although not as many this summer with the dry weather, you can use pine needles, although they don't break down like straw or grass clippings. you can use wood chips, and even sawdust, but don't mix green wood chips or green sawdust with the soil. It is ok on top of the soil as a mulch.
good luck with the garden
I'm no expert, but It seems I've read a few places that pine needles are rather acidic.. might not be good for the soil..??
I use straw as mulch also. Put it on in the spring as soon as the plants come up (or even when I plant) to prevent the weeds from beating the crops up.
At the end of the year I take the tiller and till it all in to set for the winter.

Last year I starting making compost.. it's very easy and praticly free. Makes a great soil amendment in the spring. There are lots of places you will find if you google abut how to do it. There may even be a thread on this site??
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