Your Carrots’ Best Friends

Atlas is a good carrot for first-year gardens, because it doesn't need the loose, wel-aerated soil of longer-rooted carrots.

Atlas is good for first-year gardens, because it doesn’t need such loose, well-aerated soil.

For many of us, carrots were our first exposure to the magic of gardening with root vegetables: spying those orange shoulders poking out of the soil, then pulling out — to our amazement — a long, bright root! There is something so satisfying about growing carrots, a feeling that extends well past their nutritional value, ease of culture, and great storage ability.

So if we take it as given that we want to grow carrots, which plants will do well in the same area of the garden? Let’s look at some of the carrot’s best friends:

Zermatt is a leek from seed, great when harvested very young but also delicious if allowed to mature all season.

Zermatt is a leek from seed, great when harvested very young but also delicious if allowed to mature all season.

The Onion Family

Carrots never met an Allium they didn’t love! Leeks are the superstar of the family, helping improve the growth of carrots while repelling carrot rust flies. In turn, the carrots keep leek moths and onion flies away from the leeks, so it’s a truly beneficial relationship.

Most root vegetables compete with carrots, but onions are so beneficial that they deserve soil space among your Nantes and Candysnax!

Root vegetables compete with carrots, but onions get a pass because they are so helpful!

Chives are the perfect sentries around the carrot patch, repelling carrot flies and other pests while occupying little space in the garden. (Some folks believe that chives improve the flavor of carrots, too.) And plain old onions (green and bulbing) do a great job of confusing predatory insects with their strong aroma. If you have room (or desire) for only one companion to your carrots, make it an onion!

Parsley, Sage, and Rosemary

Highly aromatic, these herbs keep carrot rust flies away.

Lettuce

Jericho Hybrid happens to be a Romaine, but carrots love all types of lettuces equally!

Jericho Hybrid happens to be a Romaine, but carrots love all types of lettuces equally!

Such a good companion to carrots that many people plant them in alternating rows, lettuce benefits from growing differently than the carrot. It is shallow-rooted, so it doesn’t compete for space with the long roots of the carrot; it harvests much sooner, so it can be replaced by onions or beans for a summer crop. Any variety of lettuce is happy in the carrot patch!

Candytuft is a pleasure in the vegetable patch, bringing butterflies, bees, and other "good bugs" on the wing a few weeks earlier!

Candytuft brings “good bugs” into the vegetable garden weeks earlier than most other flowers!

Candytuft

This beautiful flowering plant blooms early, bringing beneficial bugs and pollinators into the vegetable garden weeks ahead of other reliable favorites (from Calendula to Nasturtium).


So where, you ask, are the tomatoes of Carrots Love Tomatoes fame? Beans? Radishes? All will be revealed in the next post, Your Carrots’ Worst Enemies!

 

 

 

 

 

About Sappho Charney

Sappho Charney is a garden writer living in Lubbock, Texas.

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