Weedless Gardening: the hassle-free all-organic system, by L. Reich.

My Copy: 9780761116967 (image from bn.com)

Well, that was a surprising read. And for the most part, “weedless gardening” seems to really mean weedless.

Weedless Gardening has an interesting premise in its pages about how to start gardening and what you’re supposed to do with the soil to get your plants a healthy start, whether flowers, veggies, fruit trees, whatever. Mr. Reich has made a study of best practices for many years as a soil and plant researcher, and found out that you can’t really improve on nature.

That’s a no-brainer, except when it comes to gardening. For some reason, we’ve always seen heavy plowing and fertilizing and digging every year as a facet of gardening. Except for making sure the space is clear, Reich’s notion is not to turn over the soil and mix the nutrients around. The forest doesn’t do that… instead, after the first year, just add extra compost on top. It will eventually filter down to the rest.

Where the “weedless” part comes in is part due to this turning over of the soil every year. That’s how new weeds spring up and about so easily. It sounds strange, because you might be thinking about how difficult your ground is to dig through or it’s got a lousy composition (mine’s a bunch of topsoil over sand from leveling, over clay for the most part–it’s why we have tall trees with shallow root systems over much of the area).

There are plenty of handy charts (if you’re a better than average gardener who knows a lot of this already–might be a little daunting for newbies), some illustrations, and sidebars, so the book isn’t just words, words, words, but does pretty well at giving you an idea how to implement the ideas Mr. Reich is talking about.

Reich’s basic idea is to keep as close to nature’s process as you can, and the pages are full of ideas as to how to do that, and how to be low-impact in your gardening techniques, like trellising, row planting, drainage, water use (and how to minimize that).

Some ideas I can’t wait to try. Some I’m probably not going to, at least not for a while. But it’s going to be an interesting experiment. Definitely a handy keeper to refer back to.

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