I first watched a video of Paul Gautschi on youtube (You can also buy the Back to Eden DVD on Amazon) a few years ago about Back to Eden(BTE) and I was blown away by the logic and simplicity of it all.
Basically BTE is about mimicking nature, a forest. In a forest there is no bare soil. The soil is always covered by something whether it be trees, plants, dropped leaves or dead trees. So to replicate this you use wood chips to cover your soil.
But not just any wood chip, it is best to use branches and leaves(good mixture of carbon and nitrogen).
In time this mulch will break down and turn into soil and giving nutrients to your plants. It will also help water retention and weed supression.