Do Carrots Really Love Tomatoes ?
Carrots Love Tomatoes was a blockbuster companion gardening book written in the 1970s by master gardener Louise Riotte.
Riotte validated what many old school gardeners and farmers knew all along, and introduced a generation of growers to the reality of companion planting.
She later published a sequel entitled Carrots love Tomatoes and Roses love garlic, although it was a worthy addition to the realm of organic gardening knowledge available to home gardeners, it never matched the sensational success of the original book.
The claim of the first books title 'Carrots Love Tomatoes' is worthy of investigation. Do Carrots really love tomatoes and if so do the Tomatoes love them back ?
Carrots and Tomatoes do love each other but it's only 'puppy love'. Inter-planting carrots and Tomatoes requires good timing. Carrots mature differently than tomatoes so your first harvest of Carrots should be when the Tomatoes are still seedlings.
Mature carrots and mature tomatoes sharing the same bed is not really all its cracked up to be. They compete for the same nutrients at pretty much the same time.
Tomatoes protect the carrots from insect predators, they secrete a natural insect deterrent called solanine which deters many insects that are harmful to carrots. However, the solanine and trace phytotoxins emitted by tomatoes can stunt the growth of carrots if planted too close.
Tomato plants, being much taller than the carrot, will shade the soil, carrots prefer cool soil. The carrot provides a living mulch that helps to retain soil moisture and suppresses weed growth which benefits the tomato plant.
Try no to plant the carrots so close to the tomato plant that harvesting the carrot root may damage the tomato plant roots Leave at least one foot of space between the carrots and the tomato plant base. Planting carrots early in the season is best. Once the tomatoes are in full swing they will shade and stunt the carrots progress. A second carrot crop towards the end of the season when the tomato plants are waning will also work.