Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Book Review: Great Garden Companions

Great Garden Companions by Sally Jean Cunningham
Great Garden Companions: A Companion-Planting System for a Beautiful, Chemical-Free Vegetable Garden by Sally Jean Cunningham

I've been fascinated lately with the idea of permaculture, and one of the basic and easy to implement pieces of that idea is companion planting. If you've read Rosalind Creasy's Edible Landscaping, you know there's a lot that can be done to make gardens both more productive and more beautiful. Add a little "Carrots Love Tomatoes" - which lists which vegetables do well with which (according to various old wives' tales and anecdotes, not necessarily backed up with solid facts)  - and you're really getting started. Then add in some Lasagne Gardening (building easy, fertile raised beds), a touch of Rodale's Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening (listing different vegetables and how to grow them, as well as identifying garden pests and how to deal with them), John Jeavon's How to Grow More Vegetables Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine ("bio-intensive" gardening in wide rows rather than single-crop rows), and Good Bugs for Your Garden, and you're well on your way. Or you could just read this book, get the basic information you need, and actually have time to get outside and do it!

I was particularly impressed by the fact that this book is so practical - this is what she actually does in her own garden (not just theoretical ideas, or second-hand passed-down principles), and she details exactly what you can do to get the same results. She includes diagrams of her garden - how she pairs up plants in each bed (and why), how she works in crop rotation, and how you can adapt her plans to your own situation.

This book focuses heavily on attracting beneficial insects to your garden, which in the author's experience drastically reduces pest problems in her vegetables, as well as increasing pollination. One of her favorite ways of doing this is to include flowers and herbs that attract these beneficials (and which also look and/or taste wonderful!)

Another benefit of companion planting is that it simplifies weed control - with plants covering all of the bed, short plants mixed with tall ones, etc., it leaves little room for weeds. And since there is such a variety of plants, they each give and take different nutrients, making it a much more balanced system.

I can't wait until it warms up enough for me to put this book to work in my garden!

Note: I was not payed to review this book, I just really love it! But if you click on any of the links above and buy a book at amazon.com, I will receive a small commission from the sale. Thank you for your support!

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