I have been gardening organically using the no-dig system since the mid-1980s and am a Life Member of the Good Gardeners Association. I have taught wildlife and organic gardening to many students and school children over the years. I am still learning myself! I am rather particular as to which books I read on these subjects. This book is a little hidden gem! See below for special offer.
Weeds have a role
Weeds can be a real pain sometimes, especially when growing in the wrong place! I must admit I may pull them up if they are in my raised beds, depending upon what it is and at what stage in its growth it is. Many of them are very useful attractants for pollinators, such as bees, so I am selective in their management. To some people they are a nuisance, even though they are an essential part of nature. Weeds are nature’s way of ‘clothing’ otherwise bare soil which would be subject to erosion by wind or rain, causing the leaching of essential nutrients or allowing grains of dry top soil to blow away or be carried away by water, something I have often seen along roads and paths near fields. Weeds are plants. By absorbing solar energy via their leaves, they convert it into chemical energy, a process known as photosynthesis. As weeds grow they ‘lock’ nutrients up via their stems, leaves, stalks and seeds. When they die down, that solar energy, captured via the greenery and those nutrients are recycled whilst they decay and are returned to the soil. The decaying matter becomes food for soil microbes.
Their roots create channels into the soil which allows air and water to permeate down into the all important Rhizosphere, a hotspot of microbial activity teeming with bacteria and other soil dwelling organisms, which themselves attracts earthworms that feed upon them. This is why you often see earthworms around roots when you pull a plant or a weed up. I work alongside weeds instead of pulling every one out of the soil, but obviously it helps if you can identify the weeds you have. This is where ‘Weeds’ really helps.
I must confess that I found it very interesting, enlightening, honest, practical and sensible! I liked it because it is written by a true organic enthusiast who has based the book on his own experiences. It is definitely not a cut, copied and pasted book. I can see the time, effort and trouble the author has taken over the years. He has passed on this hard earned experience and advice in the book. I can almost feel the groans as John finds bindweed on his allotment plot! This is down to earth, practical advice based upon experience. It is my kind of book.
The layout is simple, easy to follow, informative and nicely arranged. It tells you how weeds spread which can be a real help. I have learnt from this book and I can’t praise it enough. It is absolutely packed full of useful and interesting pieces of information. It even suggests the best way to to be rid of them if you choose to do so!
It covers most of the weeds/wildflowers that may cause problems in your garden. One thing I would have added would have been photographs of young plants before they reach their flowering stage, as they can look very different at this stage of their lifecycle. But hey, that’s another 60 photographs on top of the the 100-plus already in the book.
I would absolutely recommend this interesting book. It would make a thoughtful Christmas present for the gardener in your life, whatever their level of experience.
Special reader offer
The Author, John Walker, has kindly offered a discount price to people whom wish to buy the book from this web site Special offer for Weeds (on-line only).