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Weedless Gardening Paperback – January 8, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Workman Publishing Company (January 8, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0761116966
  • ISBN-13: 978-0761116967
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"There's no such thing," my ace-gardener mom said when I told her about Weedless Gardening. I think author Lee Reich would agree that the title is a bit misleading (there will always be some weeds). Also a bit misleading are the blurbs from the publisher, which stop short of calling the book "ground-breaking" only because Reich's system is based on the total eschewal of tilling or otherwise turning over the soil. The building blocks of his philosophy have been in use for decades in one way or another: from low-till commercial farming techniques (which sometimes also involve firebombing the soil with herbicide) to simple green composting with knocked-down cover crops. But in Weedless Gardening Reich takes it all the way, no tilling, no herbicide unless absolutely necessary--all while providing everything the home gardener needs to know about cover crops, composting, and drip irrigation. In every section Reich lists mail-order and Internet sources for supplies.

The benefits of cover crops, composting, and planting in beds rather than rows are widely known, and they're dealt with in depth here. More controversial is Reich's injunction to rigorously preserve the natural layering of the soil--even when pulling up weeds, dead annuals, or old corn stalks. He makes a good case: tilling under weedy areas kills existing weeds in the short term, but turning over the dirt exposes more weed seeds to sunlight and air, and more of them will germinate; better to kill them first by mowing and self-composting or smothering them with mulch. In addition, Reich explains, water in broken-up, uniform soil tends to flow straight down; water in undisturbed soil travels more slowly, in different directions--down and sideways--thus more efficiently reaching roots. Installing a drip irrigation system further decreases water use (the book includes detailed instructions and formulas for calculating water-flow and timing) and, like many of Reich's recommendations, apparently works best when practiced in concert with his no-till, "top-down" method.

What isn't clear is how effective his system can be in an area that has been worked over by indifferent landscapers or that has already been tilled over and over for years. How long will it take for that plot's soil to resettle into something resembling its pretilled state? If my mom starts "weedless gardening" now, will she be wading through a forest of weeds or, worse, buying tasteless corn at the supermarket come August? --Liana Fredley

From Publishers Weekly

Weeds are every gardener's nemesis, so any book promising to eliminate them is certain to excite interest. Fortunately, Reich's approach is a credible one. A former agricultural researcher for Cornell University and the USDA, Reich (Uncommon Fruits Worthy of Attention: A Gardener's Guide) challenges conventional gardening or gardening from the bottom up, in which the soil is turned over every spring or fall. This method exposes to light and air all the weed seeds lying dormant in the soil and encourages weed growth. Reich maintains that instead, since soil health determines plant health, gardeners should essentially create new soil by gardening as nature does from the top down. This means placing layers of newspaper over the soil to smother weed growth, covering the area year after year with mulch (which can include compost, leaves, bark chips or peat moss), then planting in that rich medium. He outlines his method in detail, offering modifications for different soil types and adding irrigation, planting, harvesting and tidying tips. Numerous charts and illustrations accompany Reich's chatty, highly literate text. He also discusses cover crops, vegetables, various types of flower garden designs, groundcovers, trees (including fruit trees), shrubs and vines, all of which can flourish under the weedless gardening technique. Reich's is a revolutionary approach to gardening, engagingly and lucidly explained. (Mar.)
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Lee Reich, PhD started out pursuing an academic career, a trajectory that came to an abrupt halt during his second year in graduate school while studying quantum chemistry. He dropped out, moved to Vermont to ponder his next move, and, after a year, immersed himself in the study and practice of agriculture: reading popular and academic works, returning to academia by entering graduate school in agriculture, and gardening like a madman.

Three graduate degrees, work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Cornell University, and much dirt under his fingernails later, he went off on his own as a freelance horticultural writer, consultant, and lecturer.

Out in the backyard, the garden developed and garnered awards ("Prettiest Vegetable Garden: from Organic Gardening magazine, "Best Vegetable Garden" from National Gardening magazine), and was featured in the New York Times and Martha Stewart Living. The garden also grew: Lee now considers himself a farmdener (more than a gardener, less than a farmer), tending his farmden in a small river valley in New York's beautiful Hudson River Valley. His farmden provides inspiration for his writing, a testing and observation ground for new plants, especially fruits, and, of course, plenty of delicious, healthful fruits and vegetables.

Customer Reviews

I originally picked up this book at the library.
J. Rose
Plus with putting in the cedar chip paths my garden looks great and so much less weeding this Year!
Marie S
This is an easy read with a lot of good information packed into a relatively short book.
G. McCroskey

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Aron on February 19, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mr. Reich's "bare bones of Weedless Gardening" are:

1. minimize soil disruption

2. protect soil surface

3. avoid soil compaction

4. use drip irrigation

Sounds simple? It is! I implemented steps 1-3 (drip is not allowed in my community garden) in half of my garden, and months later, the results speak for themselves. The half in which I tried these techniques has tidy beds with the intended plants growing in them. The other half is a field of weeds.

This book explains mulch, compost, cover crops, drip irrigation, layouts, the application of Weedless Gardening to specific vegetables (e.g., you don't have to dig a trench to grow asparagus), flower gardens, and planting trees and shrubs, all in clear, concise language and a very manageable size. As a relative beginner, I found it all easy to understand. As a student, I was pleased that I didn't have to buy expensive materials (did you know many landfills offer free compost?). This book, and perhaps a book tailored to your region, will provide all the basic gardening advice you need.

All these pros make up for the fact that the other gardeners around think I'm crazy since they saw me newspaper-ing my garden.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By G. McCroskey on September 2, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Better yet, go ahead and sell the tiller -- you probably don't need it. Introduced to the idea of mulch-bed gardening by Gene Logsdon, I implemented the method in my garden this year. It is now September, and I probably haven't spent half an hour pulling weeds all summer. And it isn't because I have let things go; there just hasn't been that many weeds.

About the only problem I have had is grass encroaching from the sides. With so few weeds, I was beginning to wonder if there was a problem. My vegetable plants are doing just fine, though, and have generally been much more productive than they were last year.

Now that I have read Reich's book, I have a clearer idea of what's going on and understand how I might do things even better next time around. Weedless Gardening is similar to the method Logsdon describes in The Contrary Farmer's Invitation to Gardening -- though it might be more accurately described as compost-bed gardening -- but Reich goes into more detail on the particulars, at least as far as keeping the weeds at bay goes. (Now don't get me wrong: I have enjoyed reading and profited from Logsdon's writing as well.)

This is an easy read with a lot of good information packed into a relatively short book. Not having to deal with so many weeds (or wondering when I would find the time to deal with them!) makes gardening so much more enjoyable. I only wish I had discovered this book a few years ago.

As an aside, anyone with poultry might also find Andy Lee's book Chicken Tractor helpful. It too describes a variation of the no-till theme.

p.s. To address Joseph's comment (below) in part, I can get unprinted newsprint paper from my local newspaper. They usually discard the very last part of each roll; just ask if they have any "end rolls" available.
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on May 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
In Weedless Gardening, horticultural expert Lee Reich clearly and concisely offers a system of gardening patterned after Mother Nature, and is good for both plants and people. Rather that the traditional approach to annually digging up and working over the soil, Weedless Gardening provides an easy-to-follow, low-impact, effective, and environment friendly approach to planting and maintaining a flower garden, a vegetable garden, trees, and shrubs. Gardeners seeking to protect the soil, eliminate heavy work, and reduce water needs should first begin planning their gardening activities with a thorough reading of Lee Reich's Weedless Gardening!
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By E. White on April 11, 2014
Format: Paperback
Having read and loved Ruth Stout's take on weed-free gardening in Gardening Without Work: For the Aging, the Busy, and the Indolent, I was interested to see what else I could learn on the topic from Lee Reich's "Weedless Gardening." Like any other gardener, I hate weeds and they're a constant thorn in my side. I've constantly wished for a way to banish them from my garden and all to no avail. This year, I think I've got it figured out...

The book is relatively short buy incredibly useful. There are not wasted words or chapters, instead everything is clear and concise. The layout is easy to use and understand - meaning that if I ever have a question I am able to flip through and find the answer in no time at all. There are different sections for everything from mulch instruction to garden layouts, planting trees to flower gardens, and much more.

Of all the book I've read on the subject of eliminating weeds, this is definitely a favorite. It does what it says on the tin! The methods outlined are simple and some go against common practice but they work. He even recommends abstaining from the spring tilling of your garden because it disrupts the fragile networks of bacteria in the soil. As Reich says, "Weedless gardening springs from very old methods, so old that they might be considered new."
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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Reader on January 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
I give this 4.5 stars, rather than 5, because I think 5 stars should represent a nearly perfect book, and this book, like virtually every other book on earth, is not perfect. Though this book is outstanding, its FEW flaws arise from the author's OCCASIONAL failure to fully explain precisely what a novice would need to do to execute weedless gardening. I emphasize that such failings are few; and, overall, the book's concision actually aids its clarity. In fact, all things considered, I recommend this book over any other single gardening book I have seen.
I do wish the author had specifically discussed one important issue. He advises the use of paper--and newspaper in particular--to kill weeds, with the paper then becoming part of the soil. I wonder, however (and I simply ask; I don't know the answer), whether all types of paper are safe for such use? Newspaper, for example, contains ink. Is it safe to grow produce in soils containing ink and other paper constituents? I wish the book had expressly addressed that.
In any event, the book is excellent.
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