I was offered a free review copy of this book--Soil Mates: Companion Plants for Your Vegetable Garden by Sara Alway--not long ago, and since I'm just beginning to scribble out plans for "The Garden, 2011" I thought it might be helpful.
For those who may not know, "companion planting" involves putting certain plants together in the garden to the benefit of both. For example, basil planted near tomatoes will deter many common tomato pests, and attract bees as pollinators.
I've read a lot about companion planting, but haven't done much of it in the past, because I've been gardening in such small spaces that everything is close together. It's one of my goals to pay more attention to it this year now that I have the extra room.
To that end, this book was a fun, quick read. First, it's adorable. Each section features a "love match" of two plants, and the discussion is written in what I can only describe as "flirty" prose. In addition to information about the characteristics and preferences of each plant, Alway includes helpful spacing and planting information. Each section ends with a recipe featuring both plants.
That all being said, this one was just a little too beginner for me, or maybe just too one subject. What can I say? I'm a nerd and I prefer my gardening books to be encyclopedic tomes. This book only covers companion planting (and a very little bit about the basics of starting a garden) which makes it redundant with other books already on my shelves.
However, this would be a lovely book for someone just starting out. If you're planning on starting a garden this year (or you know someone who is--it just screams "Valentine's Day gift"), and you'd like this book to help you plan, drop a comment below. I'll randomly pick a winner Saturday morning, and get it out to you ASAP.
The winner--chosen by Sweet Husband random number generator--is Leslie. I'll email you for your address and get the book in the mail!