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companion plants for your vegetable garden {Soil Mates}

Pay Attention All Black Thumb Owners!!  Soon the land will thaw and the gardening will commence for many.  This year, think more about crop placement.  Just as we find mates in life who support us and protect us, plants seek the same.  If you look at nature in its wild form, this is easy to see.  The world is full of symbiotic relationships where different species provide services for the other.  Your garden should be no different.  Have pesky bugs attacking your defenseless veggies?  Perhaps you should consider planting a Soil Mate rather than spraying pesticides.

Let me throw some examples your way.  Let’s say that your carrots are being terrorized by their arch nemesis, the Carrot Rust Fly.  Onion can help with its, well, stench.  The onion (and other members in the family) wards off pesky bugs with its pungent smell.  The carrot and the onion are a natural match as they share many likes and dislikes.  They both can stand a chill, and therefore can be planted early-spring.  Let’s move on to summer squash, shall we?  The bright yellow vegetable has a target on its sunny skin, but the beautiful Borage flower can come to the rescue.  The fragrant and bright star-shaped flowers will attract bees and predatory insects that will snatch up the pesky ones.  This mate has similar likes as well, making another perfect (and gorgeous) match.  Find more garden partners in Sara Alway’s book, Soil Mates.

The 127 page handbook is a helpful tool for all gardeners, even the beginner.  The illustrations are like pleasing folk art, and the writing style is clever (yet maybe too cutesy at times).  Nonetheless, this book is packed to the spine with helpful tips, rules, and out-of-the-box ideas.  She covers all your basic vegetable garden staples from tomatoes to brussel sprouts.  I found the pairing of vegetables and herbs to be quite interesting and something I never though to do before.  The straight lines of little soldier plants is so 2010.  Maintain your organized garden, but in between plants, pop in a helpful friend.  Your veggies will be happier, producing more volume, and less waste (soldiers lost in the battlefield to bugs).

Alway outlines how to properly plant and space your seedlings, and offers up the likes and dislikes of each individual species.  In the back portion of the book, she gives you a crash course in gardening, some you may now, and some you may not.  I was particularly interested in her list of natural pesticides, using ingredients like garlic, salt, even dish soap!  Combat aphids, earworms, and moths with the Tomato Leaf Repellent.    Simply add 4-5 pints of water and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to 2 cups crushed tomato leaves (WARNING: tomato leaves are toxic to pets).  Strain the mixture, transfer to spray bottle, and voilà!  This solution works great on roses as well as vegetables.  Find many more natural concoctions in this great matchmaking garden book!

Purchase your own copy of Soil Mates at Amazon and grow the most perfect garden of lovers this year!

Special thanks to Quirk for providing a sample book for review purposes.

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