Did you know that carrots love tomatoes? Well, evidently they do. I'm not talking about romantic vegetable love. I'm talking about companion planting. I've just finished reading Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte. (Thanks, Mavis. You must see how she chose me as winner.) Riotte is well-know for her many writing contributions on gardening and companion planting. This book was an easy read chock full of helpful garden planting advice. Let me give you an excellent example of companion planting straight from the book.
"A major enemy of the carrot is the carrot fly, whereas the leek suffer from the onion fly and leek moth. Yet when leek and carrot live together in companionship, the strong and strangely different smell of the partner plant repels the insects so much that they do not even attempt to lay their eggs on the neighbor plant."
A good thing to know if you will be planting carrots and leeks in your garden this year. Some more super-helpful information, especially if you have kids, is the section on poisonous plants. I knew some of these, but not all. The following are poisonous to humans and animals: castor beans, peach stones and apple seeds (contain cyanide), pokeberries from the pokeweed, jack in the pulpit, English ivy, hydrangea leaves, oleander, daffodils, lily of the valley, hyacinths and larkspurs to name a few.
The book has great sections on companion planting recommendations for vegetables, herbs, fruit trees and bushes, nuts, and ornamental trees and shrubs. Here are a few vegetables and their companions (+) or anti-companions (-)...
(+) = plant near it, (-) = do NOT plant near it.
Asparagus: (+) parsley, basil, tomatoes (repels asparagus beetle)
Beans: (+) carrots, cauliflower, marigolds (repels Mexican bean beetle) (-) onion, garlic, shallots
Broccoli: (+) dill, oregano, celery, sage, peppermint, rosemary, potatoes, beets and onions (-) onion, garlic, shallots
Carrots: (+) tomatoes, onions, leeks, rosemary (-) do not store apples and carrots near each other
Corn: (+) potatoes, beans, peas, cucumbers, pumpkin, squash and planting sunflowers in alternating rows with corn has shown to decrease army worm populations by as much as half.
Leek: (+) celery, onions, cabbage
Lettuce: (+) onions (repel rabbits), strawberries, cucumbers, carrots
Onion: (+) cabbage, beets, strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce (-) peas, beans
Peas: (+) carrots, turnips, radishes, cucumbers, corn, beans and potatoes (-) onions, garlic and gladiolus
Tomato: (+) chives, onion, parsley, marigold, nasturium, carrot, they like being planted in the same place each year (-) cabbage, potatoes, fennel, tabacco (even residue from a smoker's hands)
This book goes on to talk about different gardening techniques including French Intensive Gardening (raised beds), Intercropping, Mulch, Succession Planting and Two-Season Planting. It includes sections on soil improvement, pest control and garden plans with actual diagrams of A Model Companion Garden, a Kitchen Herb garden, Weekend Garden and Postage Stamp Garden for a small lot.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, taking many notes along the way. My next task is to pass those notes to Jamey to see if we can move some things around on our garden map. Vegetables need companions as much as we do, I suppose. And, that's nice to think about.