So last time we learned that carrots are pretty popular vegetables in the garden, hanging out with their best friends, the Alliums, and also enjoying the company of many other veggies as well as some herbs and flowers. So which varieties are not good for carrots? And why didn’t we include tomatoes in their list of friends?
Carrots have few garden foes, but several plants just aren’t beneficial for them when planted too near. And the old saying is true — Carrots really do Love Tomatoes — but tomatoes may not love them back. Let’s dig a little deeper:
Dill, Anise, and Coriander
These fantastic herbs, which might seem ideal companions because of their strong aroma (which discourages some harmful pests from venturing any closer), all release a chemical substance from their roots that can actually be toxic to carrots. Of course, this is only the case if they are planted in the same area as carrots. So by all means, grow these herbs . . . just not in the same garden neighborhood as your Nantes and Atomic Reds!
Celery and Parsnip
These splendid vegetables harm the carrot only by attracting the same pest that plagues the carrot patch: the carrot rust fly. If you can help it, don’t give any pest a gourmet selection of plants on which to feast; space out the varieties that attract the same predators, so there is less chance of a pest becoming established in any one area.
Now let’s look at two vegetables often listed as friends of the carrot.
Beans bear no ill will toward carrots; they simply don’t benefit them. If you want a good strong bean crop, by all means plant some carrots nearby. But beans, though wonderful nitrogen fixers in the soil, really do nothing to help their carrot friends (which don’t need the extra nitrogen). If you have a choice, save the beans for your potato patch and Three Sisters plantings, and grow your carrots among plants that can benefit them more strongly.
There can be a beneficial relationship between carrots and tomatoes: the tall, lacy tops of the carrot plants can help shade the young tomato vines, while the tomato plant releases a chemical that can keep pests away from carrots.
But the tomato plant also excretes a chemical that can stunt the growth of carrot roots. If carrots and tomatoes are planted within about a foot and a half of one another, the carrots will suffer. So while Carrots Love Tomatoes (and we recommend that every gardener read that classic companion-planting book, along with Sally Jean Cunningham’s Great Garden Companions and Josie Jeffery’s The Mix & Match Guide to Companion Planting), tomatoes may not return the favor. And with all the really good friends available to carrots, why squander garden space on a fickle frenemy?
Next up in the companion-planting series? Squash! And if you want to read the other pieces in this series, just click on “Companion Planting” at the top of this screen, and you will find friends and enemies of the tomato, cucumber, sweet pepper, and bean!