Soil Mates: Companion Planting, a Review & Giveaway!

Did you know that your veggies have friends and foes?  True story!   Tomatoes and basil are BFF. And fennel will definitely not be getting a second date with eggplant.

Soil Mates: Companion Planting for Your Vegetable Garden by Sara Alway is a new book about pairing plants in your garden to boost harvest, reduce pests and avoid chemicals.  All good stuff right?

The book pulls off being cute, yet informative.   It includes 20 common pairings. Each plant section includes: “turn-ons,” “turn-offs,” “needy alert,” “stalker alert” and “love triangles.”
There is a nice section covering basic garden preparation, plant care, beneficial insects, composting, seed starting and planting guidelines.  There are recipes for each plant pairing if you are wanting ideas for what to do with your harvest as well!

I found the book to be on the heteronormative side with the author presuming a heterosexual female audience.  Masculine/feminine attributes are ascribed to plants all the while the straight ladies in mind.  Dill for instance is described as your garden’s loverboy.   “Once he’s happily settled in, he’ll reward you by sowing himself throughout your veggie patch. … He’ll usually seed in anywhere he feels comfy.”   Which can be loosely translated to: once you snag your guy and keep him happy he’ll surely give you lots of babies but watch out ladies, he’s gonna roam.” Ahem.  “Female” plants (ed note: not in the botanical way) are described as dainty, delightful, demanding and mild-mannered.  Those given male pronouns are vigorous, fast-growing and often “can’t be tied down.”

The material, however, is presented in an easily accessible manner, has cute graphics and would make a fun gift for the gardeners in your life.  It would definitely be a nice resource for a newer gardener!

Enter to win a copy of the book (courtesy of Quirk Books) by leaving me a comment with your best gardening tip or a companion planting story or something new you are planning on growing in the garden this year!   Choices!  Enter by February 14th at midnight (PST).  Winner will be randomly selected.  Please leave me your email address (will not be shown).

Update: February 15th. By random generator the winner is Lacy over at http://ourgardeningadventures.blogspot.com/ Be sure to pop over and visit her on her gardening & chicken adventures! Congrats Lacy!

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22 Responses to Soil Mates: Companion Planting, a Review & Giveaway!

  1. Jenni says:

    I’m growing small varieties of eggplant and squash for the first time this year. I still haven’t decided whether these will go in large containers or in my community garden pot, but here’s hoping they grow!

  2. Julia says:

    I’ve always wanted to know more about companion planting (icky boy-girl stuff or no). Sign me up! I don’t do it at all, so have no stories. But you know I’m in love with my garden and always looking forward to new things. I think this year I’m going to focus on my cucumber production because I got so few last year!

  3. aastricker says:

    I need to learn more about companion planting. Last year I just threw everything in in the order I bought it. I had cabbages and tomatoes in the same bed, onions mingling with everyone and squash in the same bed with my eggplants.
    My tip? Lots of compost. Last year I sifted straight compost into my raised beds and had the most lush plants ever!

  4. Grace says:

    This is the year I am finally going to put in a veggie garden. I have flirted with it for half of forever, but with rising prices and increasingly crappy food quality in the store, well, it’s time. I’m going to plant several things I’ve never grown before but the one I’m most excited about is beets!

  5. Cindy says:

    With just 2 small raised beds I want to concentrate on a wide variety of greens and vegies that work well with them in salads. Had great success with tiny tomato varieties last year and will stick with them. Last year was my first year for a garden in a long time and I was reminded that I need far more compost than I used.

  6. Kate says:

    This book would be so helpful! I grew almost exclusively tomatoes in containers last year and I am wondering what to do with the soil this year.

  7. Meg says:

    I would love to learn more about companion planting. I plan on planting more greeens this spring… Mustard, collard, chard, kale….. mmmmm… so good and so healthy!

  8. Traveling Mommy says:

    I plan to planting lots of herbs this year and want to know which ones grow well together – but you can just tell me. You can analyze the back yard when you are down here. Remember to bring the suitcase so we can fill it full of lemons!

  9. brittney says:

    I love learning about companion planting and this book sounds entertaining. Something I’ve learned this winter is claytonia (miner’s lettuce) is amazing! Anyone interested in fall/winter gardening needs to grow this delicious green! It takes the cold, wind, snow, or a freeze with ease and keeps on producing. I’ve have fresh, backyard salads all winter long because of it.

  10. Memaw Elise says:

    I love your insights, Meg!

  11. Mustard says:

    Second year gardening. I still have lots to learn. Last year, all I got was kale and collards. I got sick of it. I need more variety.

  12. Teresa says:

    My dad has tried planting the three sisters – corn, beans and squash – but it hasn’t worked out for him yet. We’re converting a good portion of our outdoor space to raised beds for this growing season. I hope to have some stories to share.

  13. I usually plant basil in with my tomatoes (in containers, on the deck). I have noticed that bugs usually attack the sweet basil, hence leaving the tomato leaves alone; I’m all for sacrifice of an herb to yield the queen of the garden, the tomato fruit. (Or is tomato a king? Hmmm. Enquiring minds.) Regardless, growing sun-loving tomatoes or herbs is a challenge in the oh-so-short summer Northeast; we New York gardeners can use all the companion help we can get!

  14. Vickie says:

    Romanesco (spelling is probably wrong) how can I not grow this wonky looking broccoliish plant. Yes, I know broccoliish is not a word. I thought about using only one “i” but it would just not be the same word. Seriously, I hope it tastes good!

  15. Susan says:

    I share responsibility for our school garden and am excited to learn all I can about friendship between vegetables!

  16. Jenna Z says:

    Last year my experiments were edamame (worked out ok, but not great) and kohlrabi (awesome!. This year, my new addition will be paste tomatoes.

  17. Granola Girl says:

    This year we are expanding the garden and focusing on rotations to leave some raised beds fallow for a couple of years. I’m planting a lot more greens and lettuces (Yay calcium and vitamin D) and bringing in some medicinal plants.

  18. Diane says:

    2 years ago I grew 8 tomato plants and didn’t get but a few tomatoes from them. My goal for this year is to grow tomatoes that set the fruit. I think I watered them TOO MUCH!!

    dicity

  19. TexMike says:

    I’m going to try melons this year. I think I now have enough room.

  20. Lacy says:

    my very favorite ‘companion’ plant is yarrow (achilea millefolium) it can be used to make lots of interesting medicines, and the foliage is edible. It attracts lots of beneficial insects, repels some bad insects and improves soil quality, speeds up compost and it improves the health of most plants it is planted with.

  21. Trace says:

    I’ve always planted tomatoes and basil near my asparagus bed. I don’t really know why, but my Tomato Nemesis, AKA: the older gentleman across the street from our first home had always done it. He would always get the earliest and best tomatoes on the block. I figured if it worked for him, it would work for me. So far, it has!

  22. Congrats to the winner- Lacy @ http://ourgardeningadventures.blogspot.com/

    Great comments everyone and good luck in the garden this year….you are dreaming about it already, right?

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