In the garden, it’s best to avoid growing too much of the same thing. If you only have one plant and then that plant develops an issue… Well, then you have an issue.
Growing only one thing also means that you don’t get to harvest anything at all while you’re waiting for that one plant to mature.
Instead of planting lots of one thing, we like to grow a little bit of many different things. You’ll be amazed how many healthy plants you can fit in a raised bed even if you don’t have a whole lot of space to grow.
To give you an idea what this looks like, let’s start with beets and then look at all the different plants that get along with beets that you could add to your garden.
What Makes Perfect Companions?
Companion planting is basically planting different plants in close proximity to benefit one of the plants or both of those plants—or perhaps even the vegetable garden as a whole. There’s not a whole lot of consensus over what the best companion plantings are, and I don’t actually subscribe to strict pairings.
What I do believe in is (one) having a wide variety of herbs, leafy greens, root crops, and fruiting plants so that there’s always something I can harvest from the garden. And (two) making sure to add rockstar plants like garlic that have observable and widely accepted benefits for the garden space.
Good companion plants are usually just those that share similar growing requirements (i.e., same growing season, same soil preferences). By having a wide variety of plants that like the same conditions, you increase the likelihood of having plants that benefit your overall home garden. Those benefits could include:
- Small plants might fill dead space in the garden so there’s not bare soil, which dries out quickly and loses nutrients.
- Taller plants might provide shelter from wind or much-needed shade to nearby plants that struggle to grow in the heat.
- Some plants serve as a form of organic pest control by repelling harmful pests with their strong odor.
- Other plants, namely flowers, attract beneficial insects to the garden bed.
- Others still act as a trap crop, which basically means they lure pests away from your favorite plants.
- Finally, some plants can actually add an important nutrient to the soil.
The Best Beets Companion Plants
Beets grow well with many different types of plants in a raised bed.
Here are some of the plants that make excellent companions for beets:
Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, and Brussels Sprouts
Like beet plants, these guys enjoys growing in cool weather, but they’ll take a lot longer to mature than beets will. If you grow any of these next to beets, then your beetroots will swell and be ready for harvest just as these guys are really establishing themselves in the garden and needing to expand their roots.
Here’s something really interesting: growing beets next to these members of the brassica family can actually improve the flavor of beets.
Beets and lettuce make great companion plants. They both love cool weather, and lettuce has such shallow roots that you can plant it really close to your beets to help retain moisture in the soil. You’ll be able to start harvesting the outer leaves of your lettuce plants while you’re waiting on your beets to grow that bulbous root.
Interplanting these two is a great way to ensure you get a lot of leaves and a root crop harvest from a small space.
Bush beans will take up space above ground while your beets have plenty of room to swell below the soil surface. This is a great way to make the most of cool weather crops in your garden space.
You’ll get to harvest your beans around the same time as you’re harvesting your beetroots, and then you can turn that area of your garden over to something new.
Bean plants can fix nitrogen in the soil, which benefits the overall health of your garden. You don’t want your beets to get too much nitrogen, which can cause them to grow lots of beat leaves at the expense of their roots. But bush beans leave behind just the right amount of nitrogen in the soil.
Radishes are another great companion for beets because they grow so quickly that they can be harvested before the beets even need more room to grow. The roots of the radishes will help loosen up the soil just as the beetroots are starting to swell.
These are some of my favorite flowers to grow in the vegetable garden, and their leaves and blooms are also edible if you like their slight pepper flavor.
Nasturtiums are a great companion plant for beets because they can attract beneficial insects to the garden and help to improve the growth of beets. If you need ground cover, let nasturtium trail over empty spaces in your garden and cascade beautifully over the sides.
Aromatic herbs like thyme, anise hyssop, rosemary, summer savory, and varieties of mint have many benefits for the entire garden thanks to the scented oils in their leaves, which can repel pests like aphids, ants, and flea beetles.
If you’re worried about keeping mint’s underground runners in check, grow mint in its own little container next to your raised bed.
French marigolds are another aromatic herb with incredible pest control potential. Bonus: you get beautiful flowers that can hang in there through heat and cold.
Speaking of flowers, it’s a great idea to let at least some of your culinary herbs flower because beneficial insects are really drawn to herb flowers.
Sweet alyssum is super easy to grow from seed and produces pretty little white or purple flowers. I like to sprinkle some seeds on the soil’s surface around my potted fruit trees to act as living mulch, or ground cover. This is a great flower to plant in the corners of your raised beds while you’re growing your favorite root crops because alyssum’s shallow root system won’t get in the way of the action unfolding underground.
The flowers can also attract beneficial predatory insects like parasitic wasps to your garden. (Bringing in parasitic wasps might not sound like a good thing, but trust me: They’re great for your little backyard ecosystem.)
Onions, Chives, and Garlic
I saved the best for last. Bulb onions, chives, and garlic, all members of the allium family, make a great addition to your garden. Their strong scent helps to repel pests that would normally like to munch on the leaves of your cool-season crops (think aphids and sugar beet flea beetles), and onion family members can actually improve the health and flavor of beets.
In addition to repelling insect pests, these incredible little stinkers can actually protect your beet crop from animal invaders, as well. I love garlic in meals, but I hate the way my fingers smell after I’ve handled the cloves. Guess who else hates that smell (and the smell of onions too)? Rabbits, deer, and squirrels!
Plants That Don’t Make Great Companions for Beets
It’s important to keep in mind that not all plants are good companions for beets. Let’s look now at some bad companions.
It’s not that these guys will get into a “this town ain’t big enough for the two of us” situation. It’s just that they’re so similar they can’t offer each other any benefits, and should you have a situation where pests are attacking one, they’re just going to attack the other.
Basically, you’re welcome to have both beets and Swiss chard in your garden, but don’t expect the garden to benefit from this combo. (You, of course, will benefit because these are two of the most nutritious veggies you can possibly eat.)
Pole beans can actually leave excess nitrogen in the soil, which can impede the growth of beets and other root vegetables. Well, at least the part of the plant you most want to eat. Thanks to this nitrogen fixation, you could end up with lush green growth above the soil and very little by way of bulbous root growth below. While beet leaves are edible (they’re great in salads), pulling a plant you’ve been waiting weeks to harvest, only to find a puny root would be super disappointing!
I hope this info on companion planting beets inspires you to turn your garden space, whether you’re working with one square foot or five raised beds, into a thriving little ecosystem. Honestly, even if you can never remember specific companion plants, just aim for greater plant diversity, and you’ll reap the rewards.
Find more tips on how to grow beets, including when to harvest them for the best flavor.