by Lee Reich
2001, Workman Publishing Company, Inc.
Reviewed by Nancy White
I love to garden and I love to read about gardening. Today you can read many articles online, subscribe to magazines and, of course, read books. I also love to teach about gardening and am always on the lookout for new ideas. Weedless Gardening has it all, information for those that have never gardened and ideas and information for the experienced gardener. Lee Reich gardens in Vermont, writes a weekly syndicated gardening column and has done research for both the USDA and Cornell University. His writing is clear, the scope of the topics broad and his ideas superior.
The word “weedless” is not even a word, let alone an idea that ever occurred to a gardener. Reich gives very simple instructions on how to start a new garden or reclaim an old weedy one so that there are virtually no weeds. The process is very simple and also very fast. Choose your site, mow down the grass and/or brush, sprinkle with a few handfuls of ground soybeans, cover with newspaper or cardboard, add an inch or two of compost and plant. The results are amazing and there are no weeds.
The book discusses drip irrigation, cover crops, mulches and composting. It is a perfect primer for a new gardener with a section on each vegetable, information about fruit bearing plants, trees and ornamentals. Probably my favorite feature of the book is the many tables and charts for quick reference: planting dates for vegetables, carbon and nitrogen content of compost materials, analysis of organic fertilizers and so on. It provides worksheets, sources of supplies, further reading recommendations, instruction on building compost bins, pH information and general good humor and encouragement.
In the northeast the winter can be long and cold. Weedless Gardening is a perfect read for the novice who wants to start a garden in the spring. Reich provides everything s/he needs to plan the first garden. Decisions can be made about where the garden should go (near the house is best), what you want to grow, how to organize and arrange. All you need is in the book. As a seasoned gardener, looking forward to a new growing season with new techniques to try and ideas to implement will make the winter seem shorter.
I have included two pictures of my first weedless garden. I used about 2 inches of purchased compost because I was transplanting seedlings. I took the “apple blossom” picture within hours of planting. By late summer everything had grown and produced and was lush. It was never watered (but it was mulched) and never weeded. That was four years ago and we have used the method many times since, always with wonderful results.
Nancy is a retired secondary teacher. She built and lives in an active and passive solar, high thermal mass home. She is an avid gardener and helps others to learn how to garden.