Weedless Gardening

After seeing my sister’s garden this past weekend, I felt a little guilty about not finishing the book Weedless Gardening by Lee Reich, which is the current, and final, selection of the Garden Blogger’s Book Club.

My sister could use a little help to control the weeds that came up in her vegetable garden, “the minute her back was turned”.

I won’t show a picture. It’s not her garden’s finest hour, believe me. And she's family and I make it a practice never to show something 'bad' from a family members' garden.

Otherwise, they won't let me take any pictures of their gardens.

But here’s a picture of a weedy garden…
I don’t know where I got this picture, wink wink, but it isn’t one of my garden!

You can kind of see that there are some tomato plants in there. If you squint when you look at the picture, you can see them. And that bright green on the edge of the flower bed is basil, I think. (Who just now squinted to try to see those tomatoes? Show of hands.)

The rest are weeds. Weeds that took advantage, obviously, of getting a little light and a little air and a little rain.

Boom! They just take over, don't they?

I did look through Weedless Gardening enough to know that there is some good advice in it for minimizing weeds in the garden, hopefully to the point that a few minutes a day (or more depending on the size of your garden), should keep the weeds away. Yes, I think you would still need to embrace weeding, just not so much weeding. Now that would be nice!

Like others who have written similiar books, Reich outlines four key points that help support a weedless garden, and then goes more in depth on what to actually do based on his experience in his own garden.

1. Minimize soil disruption. (Don’t let those weed seeds see the light of day or breathe the air of life.)
2. Protect the soil surface. (Mulch)
3. Avoid soil compaction. (Don’t stomp around in your planting beds.)
4. Use drip irrigation. (Water the plants you planted, not all the potential weeds.)

I do think this is a good method, and one I want to try maybe as early as yet this fall. But it will still take time to prepare the new planting bed because even though I wouldn’t be tilling the soil, I would be covering it with newspapers and topping it with some kind of mulch. It’s the “topping it with some kind of mulch” that will take some time! And time requires a window of opportunity, a WOO, of more than an hour or two at a time.

Who doesn’t need more gardening WOO’s in their gardening life?


Did you catch that I wrote above that this is the final selection of the Garden Bloggers’ Book Club?

That’s right, I’m shutting it down, packing it up, finishing it off. It’s time to move on.

We had some good times, didn’t we? Together we read books by Henry Mitchell, Elizabeth Lawrence and Katharine S. White, Karel Čapek, Felder Rushing, Charles Dudly Warner, various garden mystery writers, Eleanor Perènyi, Beth Chatto and Christopher Lloyd, Michael Pollan, Elizabeth Lawrence (again), and Robin Chotzinoff.

But it's the right time to move on. Many thanks to all who joined in. I hope you enjoyed the selections and through the book club you were encouraged to find and read GOOD gardening books. There are plenty out there, and I’m going to keep reading them and posting about them as time permits. (If you just had a thought that you'd like to try to keep the Garden Bloggers' Book Club going, send me an email, let's discuss.)


Now don’t get this confused with Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day! That is definitely not ending and will continue as long as I have a garden. I hope others will continue to join in as well, always on the 15th of the month, rain or shine, winter or summer. After all, “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year.” ~ Elizabeth Lawrence.

I just wish we didn't have to have weeds, too.

(The mums pictured above have nothing to do with this post. I just thought today, of all days, is a good day to show some pretty, bright flowers on a blog post, and not just a weedy garden.)


  1. So that's a tomato in there? I wondered. Yes, my hand is up. I agree with point 1-3, but I have to quibble with 4. If I don't water my garden paths, the soil (and tree roots therein) will suck moisture out of the nicely watered garden beds.
    I'm sorry to hear that you're giving up on the Book Club. I did miss some (Ok a lot), but those were during the busy gardening season. I find I am drawn to read more about gardens, gardening & gardeners in the winter, when I need to be distracted from snow, snow, more snow, some ice, and lots of slush. I hope someone does take it over during the winter. The Book Club introduced me to some great books & reacquainted me with others I hadn't read in a very long time. Thanks for hosting it, I really enjoyed it.

  2. I can see that it's time to move on. If Bret Favre had moved on--NY wouldn't have scored all those touch downs. Opps--that just flowed so I went with it.

    You have done a grand job hosting it for everyone. As for your sister's garden, well....she's probably a real nice person.

  3. Thanks for wetting my appetite to read Weedles Gardening - just got it from library on Friday to be part of your book club (I am a blog newbie). I have learned so much from your blog whether you continue your book club or not - it has certainly been a pleasure reading about it.

    Like MMcD, the fall and winter are my fave garden book reading times.


  4. Yep, there was a tomato plant among the weeds but I didn't squint, just clicked to enlarge. ;-)

    And are you sure you are going to implement this method for minimizing weeds in your garden? Did you read the first one carefully? Minimizing soil disruption means no or very little hoe-ing. Are you sure that is really what you want? ;-)

  5. I had to lower my hand so I could type this comment. I bet I have a spot in my garden that could rival this bed of weeds and I don't have young children and only work 2 days per week.

    I am like the other commenters in that I read a whole lot more during winter. I did enjoy your selections for the book club. I couldn't get them from the library fast enough to participate usually and I am cheap in that I hate to purchase a book I don't think I will reread. I just don't have room to store books. WHINE~~

  6. I, too, will miss the book club, but I so understand why it's death knell had tolled. Thanks for all the great reading. Everyone's posts always made me think.

    I read Ruth Stout's book about no aching back. It was very funny. I enjoyed it. You should get a copy.~~Dee

  7. That picture makes me feel lots better about my veggie garden! At least the herbs and veggies outnumber the weeds - for now, at least.

  8. Carol, did you sneak over to my vegetable garden while I was gone to take this picture?? I can't believe I'm admitting it, but this is pretty much the way mine looks right now, complete with a few tomato plants you have to hunt for:) (I enlarged the picture, too, rather than squint.) In my defense, when the tomatoes succumbed to blight, I just gave up. But I already have one New Year's Resolution for '09--to keep the weeds out of the vegetables! Thanks for the tips--mulching is definitely what I skimped on this year. I will have to find enough WOO's next spring to make sure I mulch properly.

    I didn't join in on the Book Club this year, but winter sounds like a perfect time to read gardening books--perhaps you'll re-think it?

  9. Hey, no fair! I've been working hard all summer!

    Your little sister

  10. Yikes! That plot looks as bad as the patch I finally pulled up last month in one of my flower beds. I know there's more weeding in my future.

    Those are pretty much the suggestions I've read before. Another thing you can do, at least in the vegetable garden, is plant in blocks as opposed to rows. This shades the soil and thus minimizes weeds. It really works.

  11. We do all of the 4 steps in the suggested list at the Havens, and we are not completely weed free but darn near. I would say that the most important step is MULCH. Preferably (and I speak from bitter experience here) mulch with something that does NOT have weed seeds in it!

    The fifth step that I employ and is not listed is I go out and pull up weeds on a daily basis. I have found if I am pulling up something that has two leaves it is a whole lot easier than the same plant 2 weeks (or 2 months) later.

    Also, I am not sure that hoe-ing counts as soil disruption, not really. You stir the top layer a bit, but you are not turning over the deeper layers that contain the thousands of dormant weed seeds. I think when the book says minimize soil disruption they are counselling against deep digging and turning over the soil.


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