Monday, 30 April 2012

Outwitting the Carrot Flies.

Monday 30th April 2012
April finally comes good

A sunrise!!! A nice day! And a 14 hour day in the garden to make the most of it.
Daisy and the piglets have quickly turned their grassy enclosure
into something more akin to the trenches of WW 1!
Not long till weaning now.

The bees came out in force today and it was fantastic both to see so many filling the air and to smell that heady aroma of wax and honey which surrounds a thriving hive. They allowed fairly close approach, though my stripy jumper seemed to annoy a couple of them at one point, not even when I was close to the hive.

Mauled by a Guineafowl
But prize for brazen attack of the days goes to Guinea Guinea. The sunshine brought out his macho side and, as I plucked the flowering shoots from the sorrel bed, he was making a right racket. I realised after a while that, behind me, he was puffing himself up, spreading his wings, running madly in circles and making false charges at me! I tried to explain that I wasn't a threat and that, if this behaviour continued, he might end up in the pot, but all to no avail.
I decided that ignoring him was the best strategy. That was until, crouched down attending to the sorrel plants, I suddenly felt a guineafowl on my back!!! And I don't think he was being friendly.

Outwitting the Carrot Flies.
The root beds were almost ready for sowing and planting when the rains came. I never thought it would be this long before I could reasonably get any seeds in.
I have ridiculous numbers of carrot seeds, each packet containing seemingly enough to fill a field. There are early ones, late ones, short, fat ones, long, skinny ones, orange yellow, white, purple, even some which promise resistance to carrot fly.

Ah yes, carrot fly.

I've never knowingly seen one, but I have seen the damage caused by their larvae, burrowing round the edge of carrots like a helter skelter, then going through the middle rendering them pretty inedible - though the chickens and pigs don't mind such imperfections.
Carrot flies find their favourite vegetable prey by smell, so it is important to sow the seed thinly to minimise the need for too much thinning later on. There are other ways to counteract these seek-and-destroy tactics, primarily by disguising the smell of the carrots, not with Febreze or Lynx, but with onions, spring onions, garlic and coriander. So my carrot beds tend to consist of rows of carrots interspersed with onion sets, garlic cloves and lines of spring onions. I like to plant coriander, probably my favourite herb / spice plant, in clumps at the edges too.
But even all these attempts at disguise do not always work. So this year I am introducing another tactic, mixing the carrot seed in with packets of mixed annual flowers. Hopefully a pretty way of confusing those pesky carrot flies.

All the text books say, too, that carrot flies are incapable of flying above about 2 feet off the ground, so surrounding the carrot bed with a barrier to this height is supposed to work. I have yet to find a practical or attractive way of doing this.

If all else fails, I am also planting resistant varieties, imaginatively named Resistafly and Flyaway. Hopefully they do what it says on the can.

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