Last season I planted perennials in my zone 1 annual garden in an effort to transition away from annual gardening. I'll always have an annual garden, but I am limiting the size, given the amount of energy required for their upkeep. I much prefer to mix in my annuals among my young food forestry.
Transitioning Living Mulch to Wood Chips
So, one half of my annual garden is in transition to a zone 1 food forest with fruit, berries, perennial vegetables, vines, with annuals plugged in wherever I have space.
Plants Burning Under Tarp
I'm transitioning the other half of my annual garden from a living mulch, back to a garden mulched with wood chips. The living mulch does work, but my yields suffered because of crowding. To help with the transition, I'm using a heavy black tarp to kill the vegetation. It takes about a month to work it's magic. In a strict annual garden, I prefer heavy "dead" mulches to a living mulch.
Zone 1 Food Forest Early Spring
In my young zone 1 food forest I prefer a living mulch. The trees and shrubs grow well with the living mulch. Here I am still using a living mulch of clover, dandelion, purple dead nettle, chickweed, chives, garlic, comfrey, and a mix of other beneficial herbs. I still weed occasionally, pulling plants that compete with my trees and shrubs. This would be mostly grass. As time goes on and I allow beneficial plants to take up niches in the system, my weeding chores are less and less.
Zone 1 Food Forest
To recap, for a strict annual garden, I like heavy mulching to improve the soil and stop weeds. Wood chips, shredded hardwood, and straw are nice choices. For food forests, I prefer living mulches. Don't be afraid to use a lot of diversity here. You will save yourself a ton of work if you can identify the helpful "weeds" from the unhelpful. Don't be afraid to let "weeds" find a home in the food forest. For example, I'm lucky to have a few large patches of chickweed. It is a nice groundcover and makes a great salad. Denise and I eat chickweed almost everyday from March until June. I highly recommend learning about wild plants and their uses. You may find those plants you thought you should pull are actually very useful.