Tomatoes Love Carrots: Finding Balance and Comfort

by Houkje

This morning, through my pre-coffee haze, I noticed my dad sitting at the dining room table. Two place settings were made. There was coffee in a beige carafe and two mugs expecting to be filled. Breakfast was all laid out on the table. He was waiting for my mother, his companion for the last 44 years.

I broke up with my boyfriend about four months ago and have since then, been spending some time with my parents. While I’m pretty certain that we made the right decision, there are some things that I really miss about being in a relationship.

It feels almost like someone told me, you can never have another potato again.

My relationship with potatoes is one of pure love. If I had to pick one comfort food for the rest of my life, I would pick a bag of potatoes. They are versatile and can be made any number of ways, baked, au-gratin, mashed, fried.

The first time I grew my own potatoes, I was giddy with excitement. They grow beneath the ground, in clumps. Turns out potato plants love horseradish. When you plant the two near each other in a garden, they protect the potatoes from pests and bugs. Each gets the chance to thrive.

Gardeners call this companion planting. They pair up plants that are mutually beneficial to each other to keep pests away, enhance growth and flavor, and maintain balance.

There are all sorts of pairs that do well together. Tomatoes love carrots. Broccoli likes basil. Beets and kohlrabi grow perfectly together. Peas like strawberries, but not chives.

My boyfriend and I were like two potatoes growing in the same clump. Or maybe he was the horseradish… and I, the potato. Our lives were close, intertwined, and rooted together.

Like the beans and squash, some of us seem to do better with someone else around.

Luckily I’ve still got my dog, who seems to intuitively know the companion planting methodology.

When we walk together in the woods, I let him run off leash. He goes wild for the first 10 minutes, running circles around me. After he finishes sprinting, he usually finds the trail and takes the lead. He trots about 20 feet in front of me.

When the trail bends, he waits, ears perked expectantly… making sure I am still walking behind him. It’s the most caring thing my dog does.

He is one of my companion plants. It’s good to have more than a few around.

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