Great Garden Companions: A Companion-Planting System for a Beautiful, Chemical-Free Vegetable Garden

August 19, 2012 by  
Filed under Guides

Discover the secrets of a naturally pest-proof vegetable garden with Great Garden Companions. Let master gardener Sally Jean Cunningham show you how to keep pests and diseases at bay with her unique companion-gardening system. By planting special combinations of vegetables, flowers, and herbs, you can minimize pest and disease problems and create a high-yielding, beautiful garden!

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The last decade has seen an unprecedented rise in demand for organic fruit and vegetables, and each year more of us are discovering that homegrown food is fresher, tastier, and more nutritious than food shipped in from elsewhere. A polytunnel can be used as an affordable, low-carbon aid to growing your own food all year round, from crispy salads and fresh vegetables in the dead of winter to juicy melons and mouthwatering grapes in high summer.The Polytunnel Handbook looks at all aspects of polytunnel use, from planning your purchase to harvesting the rewards, and includes a step-by-step guide detailing how polytunnels are put up and maintained. There are chapters on developing healthy soil and preventing pests, and a jargon-free guide to the range of often mystifying accessories that many tunnel retailers offer. In addition, the do-it-yourself enthusiast will find a full set of instructions for building a polytunnel from scratch, and the authors explain how to keep your polytunnel prod

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6 Responses to “Great Garden Companions: A Companion-Planting System for a Beautiful, Chemical-Free Vegetable Garden”
  1. Shelly Sutherland says:
    221 of 224 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    rather disappointing…, February 19, 2006
    By 

    This review is from: Great Garden Companions: A Companion-Planting System for a Beautiful, Chemical-Free Vegetable Garden (Paperback)

    My first impulse was to give this book only one or two stars, but:

    a) I read it right after Carol Deppe’s “Breeding Your Own Vegetable Varieties” and that is a really tough act to follow. It is CRAMMED with information and fun and intriguing ideas.

    b) After reading other reviews, I don’t think I had a good idea of what the book was like. That isn’t the book’s fault.

    My first frustration is that the book is not very well organized. The information that is useful is buried in meandering chapters that tend to repeat themselves.

    Second frustration–the recommended companions are almost all flowers. I have a small garden and not much room for flowers. I was expecting to know whether I should plant my onions next to the tomatoes or the peas…just a few basics. But there isn’t that kind of information in here. In fact, Ms. Cunningham doesn’t mention a single thing NOT to plant next to anything else. If I remember right, from Biology class, some plants don’t grow as well next to others. I’ve gotten this idea from a few internet sites as well, but I guess I’ll have to go buy another book to find out for sure.

    My final and biggest problem with the book is that she rarely explains why she mixes the flowers that she does. Over and over she mentions the same three reasons for her style in general:

    1) attract pollinators

    2) “confuse” insects that damage your garden

    3) to look pretty (!)

    I do think that some people might prefer this kind of lighter read, and there are a few pages of useful information about each main type of garden crop in the back. It’s just not nearly enough for a beginning gardener to know where to start.

    If you grew up in a city with no exposure to the out-of-doors and find the idea gardening to be a little intimidating, she might be just the right person to put you at ease. However I like a more scientific approach…something that tells me exactly what to do, when, where, and most importantly, WHY, then I can judge what corners I need to/want to cut, and adapt it to my needs.

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  2. Dianne Foster "Di" says:
    200 of 204 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Useful addition to the organic garden library….., June 7, 2003
    By 
    Dianne Foster “Di” (USA) –
    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)
      

    This review is from: Great Garden Companions: A Companion-Planting System for a Beautiful, Chemical-Free Vegetable Garden (Paperback)

    Although GREAT GARDEN COMPANIONS appears to be about what to plant with what, Sally Cunningham’s book is about much more. Cunningham is a `Master Gardener’ associated with the Cornell Cooperative Extension in upstate New York (growing zone 6) and has spent many hours practicing what she preaches in her nearby garden. Her garden (as shown in diagrams and photographs) reminds me somewhat of those shown on National Public Television’s long-running Victory Gardens (raised beds, yummy soil), but Cunningham’s advice and ideas are 100 percent organic.

    While many people understand organic gardening involves the use of raised beds, mulch, compost, and cover plants that enhance soil friability, retain moisture, and restore soil, few books discuss the ecosystem within which gardens exist. Cunningham works a large garden at the edge of fallow farmland (where the glaciers left very nice black soil), however, many of her ideas will work in a smaller and/or less fertile places.

    Some of the more interesting sections of Cunningham’s book cover “old-time” notions such as how to build row hedges that attract birds and act as wind breaks; how to identify insect friends and foes and cultivate the former while repelling the latter; why toads, moles, birds, dogs, cats and horses can be great garden companions. For example, Cunningham says moles have been given a bum rap and dogs and cats can actually help you ward off the bunny rabbits and other critters who might make a meal of your lettuce. Horses are a fabulous source of organic fertilizer-should you be so lucky to own one.

    Cunningham uses virtually everything that is biodegradable to make compost. She stops by the side of the road to sweep up leaves and pine needles discarded by others. She rips newspapers into long strips and mixes them into compost piles. She buries composted material directly in the garden under straw and other coverings to decompose over the winter. These practices work. I have buried half-digested material next to my roses in fall and by spring produced fabulous flowers on 3/4 canes ordinarily measuring a third of an inch.

    Regarding companion planting, Cunningham suggests mixing the members of “families (i.e. tomatoes, eggplants, peppers) in the same bed along with companion herbs and perennials. She suggests members of the same family have similar growing requirements and by combining like with like you will save work. This might be so, but many garden writers suggest the opposist–combining plants from different families as companions. These writers believe the pests and diseases that attack one member of a family are likely to attack another member of the same family and by separating them you confuse the enemy. In addition, authors like Riotte (CARROTS LOVE TOMATOES) suggest certain combinations produce synergistic results. I tend to agree with Riotte, but like much else in life, you will have to experiment with various combinations to find the answer for your garden.

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  3. Artemis Gems "ChainWeavers.com" says:
    72 of 80 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Wonderful!, July 9, 2001
    This review is from: Great Garden Companions: A Companion-Planting System for a Beautiful, Chemical-Free Vegetable Garden (Paperback)

    This is what gardening is all about! This text approaches gardening in a sustainable, “natural-chaos”, good for you and the earth manner. The illustrations are clear, the diagrams simple, new/unfamiliar terms well explained. Very clear, concise, imaginative, and inspiring. The author deserves a BIG thank-you for writing this book. It takes the guess work and mystery out of organic gardening and companion plants. Her methods are simple and effective.

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  4. organic "gardener" says:
    19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
    1.0 out of 5 stars
    don’t buy, December 19, 2009
    By 
    organic “gardener” (vancouver) –

    This review is from: The Polytunnel Handbook: Planning Siting Erecting Using Maintaining (Paperback)

    buy an elliot coleman book instead (Four Season…. would be a good one to start with). he has built and used hoop greenhouses for decades. this book gives very little information on how to build on yourself. given the title its very disapointing.

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  5. Michael A. Duvernois says:
    8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
    2.0 out of 5 stars
    There’s not much here, April 19, 2010
    By 
    Michael A. Duvernois (Madison, WI) –
    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)
      
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: The Polytunnel Handbook: Planning Siting Erecting Using Maintaining (Paperback)

    I was extremely disappointed in this book. There was little in the way of practical information at all. I’d recommend The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses or Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long for better coverage of unheated greenhouses for extending the growing season. They have extensive experience with it, and have lots of useful information.

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  6. Gregory L. Hill says:
    2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
    2.0 out of 5 stars
    Re Polytunnel Handbook, December 24, 2010
    By 
    Gregory L. Hill
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: The Polytunnel Handbook: Planning Siting Erecting Using Maintaining (Paperback)

    This book didn’t have the level of detail I wanted for construction and use of polytunnels in a mini farm setting.. There are other books out there that are much more informative…

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