Carrots can be a wee bit tricky to grow. Germination can be challenging, but losing your crop due to pests like carrot rust flies is even worse than germination challenges. But did you know there are several carrot companion plants you can add to your bed to help repel those dreaded pests? And that there are even companion plants that will help your carrots taste better?
So, what grows well with carrots?
There are many wonderful companion plants for carrots: Leeks, onions, chives, rosemary, and sage will protect carrots from carrot rust fly. In addition, legumes such as beans and peas will help your carrots grow healthy. You can also plant nasturtiums around your carrots to help repel aphids.
Benefits of Companion Planting
Companion planting offers many benefits for the vegetable garden. Choosing to add companion plants to your garden beds can help aid with the following:
Attracting beneficial pollinators: Planting bright-colored flowers with abundant nectar and pollen will help encourage pollinators to visit your plants.
Attract many beneficial insects: Flowers and herbs attract predatory insects such as hoverflies, parasitic wasps, ladybugs, spiders, ground beetles, and lacewings.
Deter Pests: Plants like garlic, chives, and onions can help repel common insects, such as aphids, cabbage worms, carrot rust flies, and beetles.
Companion plants can help aid with weed control. For example, densely planted greens like lettuce and spinach or low-growing flowers like nasturtiums can act as a mulch to shade weeds.
Can help spread diseases in your garden: Diseases spread quickly through gardens when plants of the same families are grouped in mass plantings. So it’s best to diversify your garden with smaller plantings.
- Learn More: Companion Planting – A Full Guide For Gardeners
Companion Planting Carrots – The Best Choices For Your Garden
There are several amazing companion plants you can add to your carrot bed. Here we have listed the best, along with a summary of how they benefit your carrot harvest:
I always plant leeks with my carrots in my vegetable garden. It’s my go-to carrot bed design every year.
Leeks make a perfect companion relationship with carrots. Carrots will help deter leek moths from your leek crop, and leeks, in turn, protect your carrot crops from carrot flies.
Carrots have deep taproots, whereas leeks have very shallow roots. Growing them together ensures neither crop will interfere with growth or compete for water and nutrients.
Both plants thrive in the same environment; they like full sun and plenty of water.
- Learn More: Leeks make an excellent companion plant for various plants. See our list of suitable leek companion plants.
Pole Beans, Bush Beans, and Peas
Members of the legume family, such as pole beans, bush beans, and peas, are all nitrogen-fixing plants. Increased nitrogen will help your carrots grow healthy and strong.
Legumes of all types enjoy full sun and moist soil, making them excellent companions for carrots.
- Related: Did you know you can grow peas in containers? Of course, you can, and it works exceptionally well. See our step-by-step guide for growing peas in pots on your back deck or porch.
Onions make an excellent companion plant for carrots due to their ability to deter carrot rust flies. The pungent aroma of the onions will also repel aphids.
Carrots and onions also enjoy a similar growing environment of full sun and moist soil conditions.
- Related: Onions are the workhorse of the garden. But did you know you can also grow onions in containers? Check our complete guide on how to grow big healthy onions in pots!
Radishes will help loosen the soil as they grow. Breaking up heavy soils with radishes is an excellent way to create a better growing environment for your carrots.
Radishes germinate faster than carrots, so you can plant radish seeds around the same time that you plant carrot seeds. When the carrots start to grow, the radishes have already broken up the soil.
Rosemary and Sage
Aromatic fresh herbs like rosemary and sage will also help deter carrot rust flies.
Rosemary and sage are herbs that enjoy hot, dry environments. To help them grow well with your moisture-loving carrots, grow the herbs around the edge of the growing bed. Or, better yet, place containers of the herbs around your carrot bed.
- Learn More: Growing herbs isn’t as complicated as you think it is, and you do not need to buy expensive starts at a nursery. See our blog posts on how to grow and harvest rosemary and our article on growing and using sage to see how easy it is.
Chives make perfect companions for carrots. This perennial herb is said to help improve the taste and texture of your carrot roots.
The aromatic chive plants will also help deter carrot flies and aphids with their pungent smell.
Chives and carrots get along well because they enjoy growing in full sun with rich, well-draining soil and lots of moisture.
Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Brussels Sprouts
Members of the brassica family, such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts, are good companion plants for carrots.
Some research shows carrots make it harder for cabbage moths to attack brassicas by confusing them with a repelling aroma.
Cabbage family members and carrots also like a similar environment of full sun and moist soil, so they will grow well side by side.
- Learn More: See our full article on cauliflower companion plants.
- Related Post: Learn how to grow broccoli in containers on your porch or deck!
Lettuce makes a good companion due to its ability to be grown as a living mulch.
Densely planted lettuce will help keep weeds at bay and help shade the ground keeping it cool and moist for the carrots and preventing them from becoming dry and bitter. Plant lettuce in the shade, either in a cool sheltered growing location or in behind taller plants and trellises.
- Learn More: Learn how to grow romaine lettuce from seed to harvest, and see our guide on growing lettuce indoors all year round.
Nasturtiums make a good companion plant for carrots and many other plants because they repel aphids, cucumber beetles, and other pests. Nasturtiums also attract pollinators, and the flowers attract beneficial insects to the garden.
- Learn More: Nasturtiums make excellent companions for various plants in the garden. Check out our top list of nasturtium companion plants before you plant!
- Nasturtiums are also incredibly easy to grow if you understand their environmental growing needs. See our post on growing nasturtiums from seed to flower to see how easy it is.
Additional Tips for Dealing with Carrot Flies
Companion planting herbs and alliums is an excellent method to help deter pests like carrot flies. But there are other methods you can implement if you are in a location where infestations are heavy and challenging. Companion planting works, but it can only go so far. Check out these additional tips if your arch-enemy is the carrot fly:
Plant carrots later in the season. The first generation of carrot fly is active in late May and June. Therefore, carrots planted after June will have less pressure from carrot flies. In addition, the first generation of carrot rust flies will not have a food source for their eggs. Waiting to plant carrots until after June will significantly reduce the size of subsequent generations.
Try planting your carrots in a deep raised bed. Carrot rust flies are very poor fliers. You can grow your carrot crops in beds at least 18 inches off the ground to help keep them out of reach.
Plant your carrots where they will receive heavy wind: Carrot flies won’t be able to fly or lay eggs in heavy wind.
Plant carrot rust flies resistant varieties: Try planting bred varieties to resist carrot rust fly and their larvae. Flyaway is one varsity with good growth and excellent resistance.
What Should Not Be Planted with Carrots?
You will want to avoid planting dill, root vegetable crops like potatoes, parsnips, and fennel near your carrot root crops.
Dill produces harmful compounds to carrots and can stunt their growth and development.
Learn More: Dill is a great crop to grow in your garden to attract beneficial insects like parasitic wasps. Although it doesn’t grow well with carrots, it does grow well with several vegetables like cucumbers and corn. See our complete guide on how to grow dill from seed.
Root crops such as Potatoes and Parsnips
Though parsnips, potatoes, and other root crops don’t harm carrots directly, they are susceptible to the same diseases and pests as carrots. Growing root vegetables apart can help contain a potentially harmful infestation.
- Learn More: See our complete guide on how to grow healthy beets!
- Learn More: See the best companions for potatoes to grow in your garden.
Fennel is harmful to many plants. In addition, it attracts various pests, so planting fennel plants far from your garden can draw pests away from your vulnerable vegetables.
Fennel is also an Allelopathic plant. Allelopathic plants release chemical compounds from their roots into the soil. These chemicals can suppress or even kill neighboring plants. For example, some of these chemicals can change the amount of chlorophyll production in a plant, causing a slowdown in photosynthesis. Reduced photosynthesis will lead to stunted growth or death for a neighboring plant.
How to Plant and Harvest Carrots From the Garden
Grow your carrots in a full-sun location with at least 8 hours of sunlight in fertile well-draining soil for best results.
When to Plant Carrots
You can sow carrot seeds directly into the ground 2-3 weeks before the last spring frost. However, if your area has challenges with infestations of carrot root flies, try planting your carrots after June.
Carrot seeds can be a challenge to germinate. The soil temperature needs to be at least 45F but not exceed 75F.
For fall harvests, sow seeds in late summer, starting about 10-12 weeks before your first fall frost.
How to Plant Carrots
Growing carrots that have great shape texture and flavor will require a hard look at your soil. It would be best to prepare your growing area by till to a depth of 10-12 inches. Next, pull any rocks, stones, roots, and extensive soil clumps. Finally, add amendments like sandy topsoil and compost if you have heavy clay soil. Carrots require good fertile, healthy soil with excellent drainage.
Directly plant your carrot seeds in the garden. Carrots do not transplant well and grow from seed to harvest even in the coldest regions.
Sow your seeds 1/4 inch deep and 2 inches apart. I like to pinch a bit of excess soil over the top of my seeds instead of pressing them into the ground.
Carrot seeds need to remain moist to encourage germination. If the soil dries out, the seed will not germinate. I like to grow pelleted carrot seeds to worry less about the soil drying out. The pelleted seeds are treated with a moisture-retaining substance that will help keep your seeds moist. I find pelleted seeds easier to plant, and I always have an excellent germination rate.
Carrots can take 2-3 weeks for germination, so be patient!
- Learn More: Did you know you can grow carrots in containers? You can! Try growing carrots in pots on your deck or porch this summer if you lack space. We have the complete guide that will walk you step by step through the process.
Tips for Growing The Sweetest Carrots You Ever Tasted!
How to Harvest Carrots
Here are a few tips to help you harvest your carrots with ease:
It is far easier to harvest carrots when the soil is moist. I like to gather on a cool, rainy day or after rain.
Start by loosening the soil around the carrot with a spade or trowel before pulling up from the greens. You risk snapping the greens if the soil is dry and compacted around the root.
Gently pull the carrot greens from the soil and give them a light dusting off.
You do not need to harvest all your carrots at the same time. Pull them up and enjoy them if you want a few during the summer.
Carrots are best harvested after the first light frost. The frost will force the carrots to start storing sugars creating a sweeter, better-tasting carrot.
How to Store Carrots Long Term
If you are planning on growing a bumper crop of carrots and want to know the best way to store carrots long term, we have the tips you need:
Separate the Carrot Tops from The Roots. After harvesting, the first thing you will want to do is cut off the tops of your carrots, leaving about 1 inch of the stem attached. We want to remove the tops because the greens will continue to pull moisture from the root, which will cause it to dry out faster in storage.
Do Not Rinse or Wash Carrots Before Storing. It is best not to wash carrots before storing them for long-term storage in a root cellar or cold room. Washing carrots before storing can cause mold.
Store Carrots in a Root Cellar for Long-term Storage. If you have access to cold storage like a root cellar or cold room, this is the best place for storing carrots. Pack them in a sealed container with leaves, sawdust, mulch, or moist sand. Keeping carrots this way is an excellent option for bulk storage, as the carrots will stay fresh for several months.
Keep Carrots Away From Ethylene. Be sure to store carrots away from any fruit or vegetable ethylene producers. Carrots and other root vegetables may rot prematurely or become bitter when stored near nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, apples, and tomatoes.
Carrots Store In The Ground Perfectly Well. You can store your carrots in the ground until the ground freezes. I love walking out in the snow and gathering fresh carrots for dinner! If you can keep them in the ground, they store exceptionally well right up until the ground freezes.
Want to Learn More About Companion Planting?
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If you want to learn more about companion planting, check out these recommended books on the subject: