For bed 1 (standard cardboard and compost mulch), the cardboard and compost mulch has broken down much more since December. You can see that in December it was covering over all the edges of the raised bed, whereas now (2nd pic) it is sinking down the sides as it breaks down.
Bed 1: Mid-December 2011
Bed 1: Mid-January 2012
Because of the unusually warm weather throughout December and part of January, I did get a few odd annual weeds trying to grow on the top, which I promptly pulled out. Otherwise, just doing it's thing, no bother at all.
For the 2nd bed (based on the idea of 'three-layer grow through mulch', see first post for description of my changes), it's a bit different. I think you can tell that the veg remainders mulch is starting to breakdown more, just. Not sure the photograph shows it that well, but I can assure you it has. So far had no annual weeds have popped up, unlike bed 1. However, the old chard remainders that I had dug up and thrown on top, are trying to grow!
Bed 2: Mid-December 2011
Bed 2: Mid-January 2012
You can see the new chard shoots at the top (from the middle going towards the right). Yes, I had thrown a little used compost (from containers) onto this mulch, in part to help hold it down in the high winds. But I literally threw the old chard root on top, in no way digging it it. But the bugger wants to grow anyway. It's not a lone wolf either, as at the other end of the bed (not in the photo) some other old chard roots have started to sprout.
I suppose I'll pick the young shoots and then maybe throw the rest of the root into my compost bin at home. I don't really want the chard to grow in this bed, as this is going to be the brassica bed this year. However, I'm very impressed with just how much the chard wants to grow.
Overall, the 2nd bed is mulching down much more slowly, which isn't surprising given both the unusually warm weather until the last week or so. The cardboard underneath is also drying out more and so taking more time to break down as well. It will be interesting to see if the recent cold weather helps break it down quicker. Will report back mid-February.