Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Plant Partners: Science-Based Companion Planting Strategies for the Vegetable Garden


Plant Partners is a new science based companion planting guide by horticulturist Jessica Walliser. Due out 22nd Dec 2020 from Storey, it's 224 pages and will be available in paperback and ebook formats. 

Plants have developed survival mechanisms over millions of years. Some have physical protections (thorns, stings, caustic sap), are bitter or hot (peppers, etc), exude growth inhibiting chemicals (allelopathy), and a myriad of other techniques. By learning about these natural defense mechanisms, we can plan our gardening efforts to maximize the benefits to increase yields, control weeds, attract beneficial fauna/insects and more. 

I remember my grandmother telling me that "bad bugs are just food for good bugs" and by allowing the natural balance to exert itself instead of fighting an uphill (unwinnable) battle by increasing dependence on pesticides and fertilizers, we increase the health of our soil and the nutritional value of the foods we eat.

This book provides a much more in-depth and tidy look at what gardeners can do to to stack the deck in their favor.The book has a logical and easy to follow layout; concepts are grouped together thematically by chapter: companion planting, cover crops, living mulches and alleopathy to combat weeds, trap/lure crops to minimize damage to desired crops, interplanting for health and vigor, attracting beneficial insects, interplanting tall crops for support/trellising, and attracting pollinators. 

The author does a good job introducing general concepts in each chapter followed by more specific techniques and information. The chapters contain concrete specific utilizable techniques with specific plants for particular purposes. There is a great deal of good information. This would make a superlative selection for note taking and planning in the winter season when gardens are sleeping and gardeners are surrounding themselves with masses of catalogues and dreaming about springtime. 

The book also includes some useful appendices: resources and links for further reading, a glossary, bibliography, and an index. It's well but not lavishly illustrated. Included photos are clear and attractive. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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