Former Shows & Episodes

The Manic Gardener

Kate Gardner

The Manic Gardener – The Weed-Free Garden

A weed-free garden sounds too good to be true, and near the end of our interview, Lee Reich, author of Weedless Gardening, admits that it is: He does indeed weed—for about five or ten minutes a week.

Five minutes, though, is close enough to nothing as makes no difference. How does he manage this? (Without planting through a plastic mulch, that is.)

During this week’s show, Lee explains his four-part system and its many benefits, which range from healthier soil to way less work for the gardener. The system itself is pretty simple: don’t till or disturb the earth; lay out permanent areas to walk and plant; keep the soil covered at all times; and use drip irrigation where irrigation is needed.

But how to implement the system is not quite so clear. How do you fertilize, or add organic matter, without digging? And don’t plants need access to these things deep in the earth? As for keeping the soil covered, mulches are indeed great for conserving moisture, but how do living mulches(or cover crops) work in a garden? Aren’t they supposed to be dug in, come spring? (Which sort of negates the no-till part of the plan.)

All of these questions, and many more, get answered on this week’s show. It’s a fascinating hour with a funny, intrepid, knowledgeable guest who’s not afraid to buck the established wisdom of the day.

Lee Reich has a PhD in Horticulture from the University of Maryland and actually started his career as a researcher with the USDA and Cornell University, but he has been for years an independent writer, lecturer, and “farmdener.” He blogs at In Lee’s Garden.