So you’ve finally decided that you’re going to grow carrots but you have heard some horror stories about growing carrots and that horror story is the nasty vicious carrot root fly taking out entire crops leaving you with absolutely no produce when you come to harvesting your carrots. DISASTER!
But don’t panic, there are in fact quite a few precautionary steps you can take to ward off any nasties and ensure your carrots fight through and don’t get eaten by the little maggots that are left behind by the evil fly.
But first, let’s take a look at the symptoms of carrot root fly so you’ll know if that’s what your carrots have been attacked by.
- Brown rings that look very similar to rust will cover your carrot’s root. It will look like the carrots have rotted away.
- Snapping the carrots in half (or cutting them if you prefer) will reveal a tunnel system full of little yellow/white maggots.
Those two are in fact the only real symptoms you can look for when looking to see if your carrots have been attacked by carrot root fly and to see if they have successfully laid eggs (which hatch into the maggots you might discover).
So now you’re looking for the prevention aren’t you. There’s no way you can ‘cure’ carrot’s that have been attacked by carrot root fly. Don’t even put them on your compost heap. Instead, you have to take prevention methods that stop it happening in the first place. There are in fact quite a few ways you can prevent carrot root fly from attacking your carrots and by employing as many of them as you can, you really can reduce the likelihood of your crop being destroyed.
- The first easy thing to do before you even begin growing your carrots is to look for carrot varieties that have been developed to be carrot root fly resistant. This doesn’t mean that they are completely resistant and that you won’t have to put a single bit of effort in to help them, but they do work to some degree. Try varieties such as ’Fly Away’, ‘Maestro’, ‘Resistafly’ and ‘Sytan’. The best way to look at this varieties is to say they are less susceptible to carrot root fly.
- Now you’ve got the seeds, it’s time to sow them and when you sow them, don’t just throw them into your bed. You need to try and sow them thinly. Sowing them thinly will mean you spend less time thinning. Thinning is what attracts a lot of carrot root fly because as you thin your seedlings, you knock the other carrot leaves which release the smell that the carrot root fly are attracted to. If you struggle to sow thinly, then mix a few seeds with some sand and sprinkle the mixture into your bed.
- The problem with carrots is they release a smell that attracts the carrot root fly, something that works really well is to mask this smell by planting something just as, or more smelly. Things to grow either side of your carrots include Onions, Garlic, Sage, Mint and Spring Onions. You basically want to pick the smelliest of vegetables that you can think of to mask the carrot smell.
- Like the previous point, Marigolds work in the same way so plant a row of Marigolds in between each row of carrots. This will also mask the smell of the carrots but will also attract bees to your plot which can be useful… Never say to bees!
- Some say that the female carrot root fly (which is what lays the nasty eggs) can only fly to a certain height. Therefore creating a fortress around your carrots is a great idea. What I have done in the past is to place four stakes or bamboo canes at the four corners of where my carrots are growing. I then take some clear polythene and wrap it around the four canes so it surrounds the carrots. I tend to do it at a height of 1 metre roughly.
- Another preventative measure you can take it to cover your area with Enviromesh. It is a very very very fine mesh that carrot root fly will not fit through yet it will still allow water and light to get to your carrot plants which makes it ideal for growing vegetables, especially carrots, under.
- Please take this one with a pinch of salt: Ground Coffee. Sprinkle coffee over the surface of your soil around your carrots. Some say (can’t say I’ve tried it) that it works really well as the smell of the coffee wards off any carrot root fly.
There’s 7 preventative measures you can take to stop your carrot crop getting destroyed by carrot root fly. If you employ just 3 or 4 of them, you should be able to grow carrots successfully without being attacked by carrot root fly.
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