Your Carrots’ Worst Enemies

Our Rainbow Blend contains 5 named varieties (Atomic Red, Cosmic Purple, Solar Yellow, Lunar White, and Bambino), and even the orange one is interesting, because it's an arrow-shaped baby veg!

Our Rainbow Blend contains 5 varieties (Atomic Red, Cosmic Purple, Solar Yellow, Lunar White, and Bambino). So colorful — and the orange variety is an arrow-shaped baby veg!

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:

Coriander is the seed of this plant, and Cilantro is the fresh foliage. Beautiful, tasty, fragrant -- but no pal to the carrot!

Coriander is the seed of this plant, and Cilantro is the fresh foliage. Beautiful, tasty, fragrant — but no pal to the carrot!

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!

My wide shoulders would muscle aside carrots, anyway, even if I didn't attract carrot rust flies! So plant me someplace else . . .

Give parsnips more room to grow their wide shoulders (and get relief from the carrot rust fly!) by planting them apart from carrots.

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

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.

With so many better friends and neighbors, carrots are advised to keep their distance from tomatoes!

With so many better neighbors, carrots are advised to keep their distance from tomatoes!

Tomatoes

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.

Have you tried growing carrots from seed tape yet? It's easy and fun, especially if you want straight rows or a fun geometric design!

Have you tried growing carrots from seed tape yet? It’s easy and fun, especially if you want straight rows or a fun geometric design!

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?

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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!

 

About Sappho Charney

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

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