When Eric from Quirk Books, contacted me and asked if I would like a copy of Soil Mates: Companion Plants for Your Vegetable Garden by Sara Alway, I said yes! I didn’t bother telling Eric, that in fact, I didn’t have a vegetable garden. Unless you count my three pepper plants in pots by my herb garden, which I do, by the way! But, I am never one to pass up a free book. Ever.
So, I was expecting some scientific mumbo jumbo, with diagrams and charts, and pH values and things. What I got instead was an unbelievably charming book. I totally love this book!!! And guess what? Yes, not only does it have companion plants (and it totally makes me want to plant a vegetable garden), it has recipes!!
The book is organized by matches, couples if you will. It introduces each match, then has a page about why they are a love match, followed by plant profiles – with headings such as turn-ons, turn-offs, needy alert, stalker alert, and love triangles. And then as if that wasn’t enough it is followed by a recipe using the loving couple. Seriously adorable and informative!
For example, the book begins with Tomato and Basil:
Tomato is probably the most popular girl in the garden bed. Everyone loves her seductive round fruits, and her colorful hues go with everything. Basil may be loose and lanky, be he’s a force to be reckoned with. He tries to make up for his minor shortcomings by helping deter pesky fruit flies and disease from voluptuous Tomato. In fact, Basil makes Tomato so happy that all summer long she remains fertile and glowing, qualities that show in her flavor.
Not to sound naughty, but Basil likes to be pinched; otherwise he gets bitter. To keep his leaves tasting sweet, pinch off flowers before they bloom. (but leave a few for the bees!) For her part, vine-y Tomato likes to be caged to keep her tasty treats high and dry. There’s nothing worse than a rotten tomatoes.
Tomato is plagued by ferocious-looking hornworms, which chomp on her fancy foliage, mostly at night, when Basil is asleep. To attract the beneficial parasitic wasps whose larvae feed on their nasty host (they look like rice on the caterpillar’s back), plant flowers that umbrella- or daisy-like clusters, like tansy, dill and clover.
Then all of that (plus more) is followed by a recipe using Basil and Tomato – Fried Tomato Caprese!
I can not think of a charming more fun way to learn about companion planting. This book would make a great gift to any gardener or foodie friend, or even just someone who loves charming books.
Highly recommend 5/5.
***I did not receive any compensation for this review, other than a copy of this delightful book!