Beets those wonderful, earthy flavored roots that have graced many a dinner table over the years despite the groans from the children they were being served to. Now I will admit beets are an acquired taste and it can take some time to acquire it. But like a good wine or coffee the flavor of a good beet will grow on you with time especially when you grow them yourself in the garden. Now beets being a cool season root crop are very versatile in the home garden. They can be grown with lots of other crops as a companion and you can get multiple harvests per year depending on your climate.
I personally really enjoy growing beets as they are easy to plant and harvest and like I said above they go well with many other crops. I am always looking for ways to maximize my garden space and growing things together is by far the best way to do it.
I like to grow my beets with a few different types of plants but I am just going to cover three of them in this article.
Onions are a great companion to beets for a couple of reasons. The pungent onion odor helps deter insect pests of the beets. They also are easy to grow with them because they have a similar growth pattern and need similar row and thinning space between each plant.
In my small garden I will usually plant two rows of onions with three rows of beets planted between them. This creates a scent barrier all around the beets that protects them from the roving bands of insects that find beet leaves good eating.
Cucumbers or other vining crops
Beets can be interplanted with other crops that are already growing and still be very successful. They can in many cases do better when planted as an understory to a vining plant like a cucumber. The cucumber plants helps the beets germinate by keeping the soil underneath their leaves moist and they can shade the sensitive young seedlings from harsh summer sun. When the vining plant reaches the end of its life there will usually be plenty of time yet to finish growing a cool season beet crop.
There has been some discussion about beets and other root crops and how they can act a natural tillers of the soil. It has been show in field tests that cover crops that contain radishes do quite a bit to loosen and aerate the soil they grow in. The same principle could apply in your garden and by growing beets next to vegetables that like loose well drained soil you could potential benefit their growth.
Bush beans and beets are another set of great companions in a garden. They complement each other because they are both excellent at getting what they need to grow. Bush beans like other members of the legume family are capable of fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere and incorporating it into the soil. This benefits a lot of plants and beets are just another one in the long list of plants that are helped by beans.
But there is a flipside to this as well. Beets with their aggressive taproot can reach down into the soil and yank out out micronutrients needed by all plants. These nutrients are then incorporated into the beet and its leaves. While you will eat the root, the leaves you chop off can be composted or used as mulch right in the garden which will add those hard to get micronutrients back into the top of the soil profile making it much easier for next years plants to use it.
So there you have three companion plants for your beets that you can try planting with them next year. For more ideas on what can be companion planted check out other articles here on the Green Living Library and the sources in this article.
Hello my name is Josh Larson and I am the creator of the Green Living Library. Here on the blog you will find updates to content found in the Green Living Library as well as stories from those living the sustainable life already.