Monday, December 6, 2010

I call it "unintentional companioning"

I don't intentionally grow tomatoes any more - mostly because I don't like the taste of grubs. Grubs have this horrible acidic bite to them - but even more to the point, I don't like having the mind-scarring feeling that accompanies the bite when you realise tomatoes aren't supposed to taste like that. But such is the extent of the problem we have with grubs in our area, I'd rarely find even a single slice of tomato finding its way onto a sandwich.

Still, allure to the home-grown tomato is easy enough to explain. If you knew nothing about plants, you could be forgiven for thinking that the store-bought tomato is the tasteless, leathery cousin of the tennis ball - so I rarely find myself eating these either. But occasionally in winter, the wife will whip up one of her ripper tomato soups, and a small army of seeds will find its way into the compost. Six months later, and I'll be growing tomatoes from every garden bed in the plot. Sometimes even in the pots of the unexpecting ornamental.

Because I'm always so reluctant to pull out anything that bares fruit, I inevitably end up growing tomato with everything. Some might describe this behavior as just weak. I call it unintentional companioning. So while the tomatoes haven't benefited too well from growing with the cordylines, I've been extremely surprised to find the crop of tomatoes growing amongst the carrots is completely grub free.

Now this could be for a number of reasons really. Maybe the strong aromas of the carrot jungle is keeping the pests away... Maybe its just the wrong time of year or weather for the usual suspects. Its also extremely likely that these store-bought minions of the "tennis ball" cultivar are impenetrable to anything that doesn't have access to an angle grinder.

So I got to wondering - has anyone else had any luck with the "carrot shield"?

Although, if all you have to say is "its only worked for me with purple carrots", then maybe you shouldn't say anything at all.


  1. In 1975, there was a book published in the US on companion planting titled "Carrots Love Tomatoes". The book is still in print and still being sold. It would seem that your experience with the "carrot shield" has been replicated many times.

  2. Nice post. Interesting observation. Now if only I could keep the neighbours cat from using my tomato patch as a toilet. Perhaps an article on pest removal?

  3. Does this really work? Can you provide some evidence? I would like to try this but am skeptical. Have you stored any empirical data to prove your claims?

    Also is it a particular type of carrot species you are planting?

  4. All I've made at this point is a simple, unexpected observation. Thus, I had no control group. As I said in the post, there's any number of reasons why this crop may have turned out grub free - it just surprises me that I've lost less than 1% of the tomatoes on these plants. Interestingly enough, the tomatoes I lost were on plants further away from the carrots, but I didn't rigorously check&document this.

    The varieties involved are 'purple haze' carrots and a stock standard orange carrot. The tomatoes came up out of the compost, so I don't know what variety they are. I also had some onion in the bed that didn't do too stellar. I had a row of silver beet growing in the back that I don't imagine contributed anything to this picture. All these are growing under some plum trees.

    What I intend to do next season is grow a bed of things I usually lose to grubs - tomatoes, capsicum etc - and inter-plant them with rows of carrots. All I can say is evidence or not, test out the observation... Tomatoes and carrots don't compete with each other, so you've got nothing to lose. And let me know if you turn up any interesting data points!