Can Carrots and Beets Be Planted Together?

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Growing Carrots

Growing root crops is an important part of growing food for a family. Some common root crops are potatoes, carrots, onions and beets. Carrots and beets are commonly grown at the same time in the same garden. However, being that these are both root crops, the question may arise whether or not they can be planted in close proximity.

So, can carrots and beets be planted together? Yes, carrots and beets can be planted and grown together. They actually benefit from being planted near each other. They can be grown together in raised beds, in garden beds and with square foot gardening. How well they grow together depends on the growing method.

Again, carrots and beets are root crops, which means that they primarily grow under the soil. Carrots form a deeper root than beets do, so they break up tough soil that allows the beets to thrive. Carrots and beets can be planted next to each other since they grow to different depths and allow for each vegetable to access enough nutrients without starving other plants. The most important part when planting carrots and beets together is leaving enough space between rows of plants. This will allow the beets to grow sideways under the soil and grow bigger.

Different Methods of Growing Carrots and Beets

In-Ground Gardens

When growing in an in-ground garden, the chances of having perfect gardening soil are slim. Root crops are commonly used to help break the soil apart while still growing useful crops. Carrots, with their long tap root, are a common and excellent crop used to better soil. If carrots grow kinked or turned, then they may be ugly, but they are still edible and taste just as delicious. Beets do not have as strong a root system as carrots and will have a difficult time growing through tough clay soil. 

By planting carrots and beets together in clay soil, carrots will break the soil apart, allowing other root crops, such as beets and radishes, to grow.  In-ground beds require crop rotation to prevent nutrients from leaving the soil and not being replenished. Proper soil care at the end of each season will help restock nutrients in the soil.

Raised Bed Gardening

For a raised bed garden, a gardener will typically have more control over the soil in the beds. Well-draining soil in raised beds is a perfect medium for growing root crops – especially carrots and beets. Actually, loosely packed, well-draining soil is the best growing medium for almost all household vegetables. When growing carrots and beets as companion crops in a raised bed, the most important thing to remember is proper spacing between rows. This is especially true when using a high-intensity gardening approach (as explained below).

High-Intensity Gardening

High-intensity gardening is when crops are sown closely together and grown until they are useable, which does not always mean full size. Additionally, high-intensity gardening allows the crops to thin themselves out naturally, increasing yields and creating strong, healthy plants. It is possible to grow carrots using a high-intensity method, as long as full-sized carrots are not expected. Beets are more difficult to grow using a high-intensity approach, as they require more room under the soil to expand.

Square Foot Gardening

When growing carrots and beets using a square foot gardening method, proper spacing is important. Carrots and beets can be grown in squares next to each other, but should not be grown together in the same square. Beets require more space to allow for full-size growth. For gardeners who are not as concerned about beets reaching full size, carrots and beets can be planted together. This would be achieved by first placing the nine beet plants in rows of three inside the square.  From there, carrots can be sown between the beets.  When the foliage starts to show itself, it will look as though the carrots are creating their own grid within the square, keeping the beets separated from each other.

Container Gardening

This method can also be effective when container gardening. This does, however, require a large enough container to support the root systems of beets and carrots. An example of this type of container gardening would be a method my grandmother used. She would take a long container (roughly 3’x2’x2’) and plant her beets and carrots together. Beets, and sometimes radishes, would be evenly spaced out in the container. She would then isolate each beet or radish from the other plants using a line of carrots. This method produced baby carrots, but that may just be because she had nine grandchildren who couldn’t wait to pull up the carrots. With a proper sized container, almost any combination of planting is possible for shallow and deep root crops.

Caution! Not All Root Crops Work Well Together!

Now, there are of course some root crops that do not play nicely with others.  Turnips are a root crop that do not do well when planted with carrots or beets.  Turnips are a stiffer crop, meaning they have the ability to grow themselves between the soil spaces. Carrots and beets do not play nicely with potatoes, either. 

Beets do grow well with several different crops. They grow well with bush beans, broccoli, lettuce and most vining crops. However, beets and pole beans do not grow well together and tend to kill each other when planted in close proximity. 

Carrots are able to grow well with different crops as well. Due to their deep seeking nature, they allow the roots of other crops access to more water and nutrients. Tomatoes derive a lot of benefit from carrots planted nearby, as tomatoes have a massive root structure that benefits from as much as help as possible. Carrots also grow well with and help beans and lettuce.

This means that not only can carrots and beets be grown together, they can be grown in combination with other crops for maximized benefit. In a raised bed or a garden bed, this could be bush beans planted with carrots and radishes between plants or densely planted lettuce with radishes, beets, and carrots intermingled. The possibilities are endless!

It is important to remember at the heart of the matter, carrots are deep root crops and beets are shallow root crops. This means that they can be planted together because they do not compete with each other for water, nutrients and space.  

Due to the nature of root crops, they can benefit plants that traditionally grow above the soil, such as bush beans and tomatoes. The more paths that roots are able to travel, the soil allows the main growing branch of the plant to be thick and healthy, thus providing better fruit on the plant. Root crops serve this purpose, by digging themselves through otherwise unusable and difficult to work soil.

Use Your Plants to Work the Soil for You!

For gardeners who do not believe in tilling their garden (DO NOT DISTURB!), hardy root crops can be the answer to working the soil. Companion planting of root crops with typical crops also allows for the soil to be worked in many different ways, with many different nutrients deposited and left behind. Carrots are the most effective root crop to assist with deep soil. For medium depth crops, turnips are effective, but they are not compatible with as many crops as beets.

While carrots and beets may not be the first thing on a gardener’s mind when it comes to crops to plant between plants, they are high on the list of root crops that are effective while taking up minimal space. Carrots are effective because they are a deep root crop that does not take up a lot of space. Beets are more effective than radishes at breaking up the soil because they have a larger footprint in the garden, deeper roots and a longer growing season. This does not mean that radishes cannot also be planted, but remember that radishes and beets do not always play nice with each other!

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Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Related Questions

Can carrots be grown with cucumbers? Yes, they can. However, it is important to ensure that the leaves from the sprawling cucumber vine do not shade the carrots out. The same is true for beets.

Can beets be grown with radishes? Yes, beets can be grown with radishes.  Spacing is very important, as they are both shallow root crops and will compete with each other if they are too close. Early season radishes can help solve this issue, as beets will have the rest of their season to recuperate after the radishes are picked. 

Can root crops be grown in containers? Root crops can absolutely be grown in containers! The important thing is to make sure the container is big enough for the crop, and that it is given enough food, water and light. When in doubt about growing something in a container, try it. Gardening is all about experimenting and trying new things. Growing different crops in containers is a good way to do that.

Should lettuce be planted with root crops? Lettuce is a wonderful ground cover plant to prevent the soil from drying out when planting root crops. Lettuce has very shallow roots, allowing a root crop to develop and grow without competing with lettuce root spaces. When deciding to grow groundcover, it is beneficial to look at those that serve multiple purposes. Growing ground cover that will also feed your family is an effective and smart use of otherwise unusable space.

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Corey Leichty

Hi, I’m Corey and I love using gardening as a way to provide food for my family, learn life lessons alongside my wife, Andrea, and teach life lessons to my two sons. Do you have gardening questions? Not finding what you are looking for? Please feel free to Ask a Question (Click Here!) and I will get back with you as soon as I can!

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