The Benefits Of Planting Radishes Next To Your Carrots In The Garden

Just like people, some plants love company: Companion planting is the art of combining species in your garden to get better results. In your garden party, carrots and radishes make great companions. Popular though carrots may be in the grocery store, they're not the easiest to grow successfully. Adding radishes to the equation increases your chances of success — while also giving you tasty radishes that grow in just a few weeks.

Various factors impact companion planting, from grow times to pest and disease susceptibility. In the case of radishes and carrots, the companion plants thrive due to growing patterns. Radishes will grow faster and get harvested first, which protects carrots as they germinate and creates looser soil for the young carrots to grow into. Radishes are also fuss-free and fast-growing (unlike carrots), and because they grow so shallowly, they won't steal nutrients away from carrot roots. Their canopies won't overshadow carrot growth but will grow quickly to keep the soil soft and protected from hard rainfall and bright sun so the carrots can germinate safely. 

How to companion plant carrots and radishes

Ready to give this magic carrot-boosting trick a try? It's almost the same amount of work as planting one thing, with double the benefits. When you plant a row of carrot seeds, add a row of radishes right next to them just a few inches away — 4 to 6 is ideal. Make sure to get radishes that mature quickly: Some varieties, like winter and daikon radishes, may grow too slowly for companion planting. Water and weed like normal, and watch for your radishes to sprout first. In about three to four weeks, the radishes should be ready for harvest. (The seed packet will tell you exactly how many days after planting you can harvest.) You may want to gently hold the carrots in place as you pull up the radishes. 

Once the radishes are gone, the carrot seedlings will have the space and aerated soil to really thrive. If they're growing too close together, thin out the carrots so they're 3 to 4 inches apart. About two months after planting, those carrots should be ready for stir-fries, salads, and everything in between.

Other tips for great results

You can use a few different tricks and techniques to make your companion plants grow even more successfully. This starts early in the season: Before planting carrots, make sure to remove rocks, dirt clumps, and other debris from the soil that could block the root vegetables' growth. To speed up the planting process, try combining radish and carrot seeds in some clean sand, then spread the combination over your garden and gently cover it with soil. Or, if you don't mind a slower planting process with less thinning to do later, plant one carrot or radish seed per shallow hole, with about 3 inches between each plant. 

As you weed, consider using clippers to cut the weeds near the soil rather than pulling them up, which could disturb your root crops. You can even grow these companion plants in a container or bucket garden — perfect for gardeners without much yard space. Lastly, when harvest time comes, don't forget that both carrot and radish greens are edible, as are the roots. With this companion planting technique, your garden bounty will provide you with double the fun in no time.