Let me once again extol the virtues of mulch!
I'll use Garden #1 as an example. It's the tomato garden. All the rows are mulched with grass clippings. I have had almost no weeding to do in the rows themselves and very little in the walkways. The only walkways that have been a problem are the ones that didn't get a thick enough mulch, or the chickens got in and scratched the mulch away. But it hasn't been difficult at all to pull out the weeds and add more clippings in the open areas.
Other advantages are that there has been almost no need to water that garden. When you pull back the mulch, the ground is very moist underneath. The mulch also allows you to get in the garden and pick the tomatoes even when there's been a lot of rain. The mulch soaks it up and stores it, but you can still walk on it without sinking or getting stuck. It also helps prevents some soil borne diseases from infecting the plants because the soil doesn't splash up on the leaves when it rains.
On the other hand...
We decided to try something new in Gardens #3. We tried going without mulch at all in that garden. Danny bought a new wheel-hoe cultivator that does a wonderful job of getting rid of weeds in the walkways, as long as you use it every couple of days.
Our problem is that we don't have time to redo the walkways every couple days. So the weeds take off and grow at an alarming rate. Once they are more than a few inches tall, the cultivator gets clogged up and is basically useless. Then you have to pull the weeds by hand or use a regular hoe, either of which takes even more time and trouble.
After four long, hot days in a row of backbreaking weeding, just in garden #3, I must declare our experiment of not using mulch in that garden a total disaster. After weeks of intermittent rains, which thankfully kept us from having to water too much, the weeds in a large part of garden #3 were nearly as tall as Nate. The part in better shape took a lot of weeding the week before, and tomorrow I will be trying to uncover the rest of the zucchini and peppers.
The best looking areas of the garden are the last row of okra and the very first row with sunflowers and kale. They are doing so well because I went ahead and mulched them with grass clippings as they were available last month.
My advice to anyone who will listen, take advantage of mulch!