Allotment Book Review: Soil Mates

Every so often somebody (actually, usually it’s somebody’s PR company) gets in touch to ask me to review a book. I always say that I will, but that the review will be honest and unbiased and that I won’t pull any punches and the person (or the PR company) always says yes, that’s great, that’s just what they want.

Is it though? Well, I suppose I’m about to find out. This month I’ve been browsing Soil Mates by Sara Alway, a book that aims to teach companion planting for vegetable gardens. I did learn some fascinating things: thyme and Brussels sprouts, for example, are a love match. As are peas and turnips. The illustrations are lovely, the recipes look very good and the whole concept of love-matches, rivals and aphrodisiacs and turn-offs is a fun way to approach the concept of companion gardening. It’s beautifully bound, and nice and sturdy, so it will take a bit of wear and tear on the plot. But (you knew there was a but, didn’t you?) it is an American book and the information about insects: both pests and valued predators, simply doesn’t have any relevance for UK growers and that really lessens the value for growers here, whether they are beginners or experienced folk, because companion planting is largely about encouraging beneficial insect life and discouraging or distracting damaging species.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Thursday, November 25, 2010

4 Comments:

Anonymous allotments4you said...

I know what you mean...first off the book seems like a dream but if it isn't UK based then I don't see me ever buying the book as it wouldn't be too beneficial for me. I would maybe check it out if it ever turned up in the library though so thanks for that.

November 25, 2010 at 11:59 PM  
Blogger Mal's Allotment said...

The problem with companion planting is that it cuts right across the demands of rotational discipline. Where will it all lead to?

November 26, 2010 at 2:27 PM  
Anonymous allotment blogger said...

Tanya, it's definitely worth borrowing from the library.

Mal, I suppose for those using permaculture or other non-rotational systems it could be a good tool. But yes, companion planting and rotation often seem a bit adrift from each other.

December 3, 2010 at 10:38 AM  
Blogger VP said...

I also received a review copy but found I can't recommend it. As well as the drawbacks you've cited the tobacco insecticide recipe isn't organic as it kills beneficials and too much of the information is scattered in different parts of the book making it quite a hassle to find out how to grow each crop.

December 15, 2010 at 1:18 PM  

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