Carrot flies, as every gardener knows, are evil. They’re so small you can’t see them and when they attack they decimate your crop, drilling tiny holes in practically every carrot. And, to make matters worse, they have superpowers – an enormous nose that can smell a carrot from two miles away.
We’ve tried the usual countermeasures. Planting onions with the carrots to mask the carroty smell. Didn’t work. Watering the carrot bed every time we thinned it out to make sure any carroty odour was immediately washed into the soil. Didn’t work. Last year we tried one of the new carrot fly resistant varieties. We even followed the seed company’s advice to plant a non-resistant variety around them as a barrier. Not only didn’t that work but the non-resistant variety had less carrot fly damage than the resistant carrots.
The only thing we’ve found that does work is … the wall.
According to experts the carrot fly can only fly a few inches above the ground – presumably because of the weight of its giant nose. So, if you ring your carrot bed with a wall – we push slates into the soil – the carrot fly will be stopped.
The wall should be at least 18 inches high as tests have shown that’s the maximum height a carrot fly can fly at. I toyed with the idea of adding a small ditch in front of the wall. After all, with all those flies rushing in from miles away driven wild by the smell of carrots wouldn’t they smash into the wall at speed? And create a pile of comatose bodies at the base of the wall which, over time, would reduce the height of the wall?
My ditch idea was vetoed, as was my moat, and the motte and bailey. But Shelagh liked the idea of the wall. Even more so when it worked. It takes a bit of time to build and you need a lot of slates but until the carrot fly learns how to build a siege engine, it’s the only way to save your carrots.
Chris Dolley is an English author living in France with a frightening number of animals. His novel – Resonance (Baen) – can be downloaded for free here. More information about his other work can be found on his BVC bookshelf .
Coming this month: Nous Sommes Anglais – true crime, animals behaving badly and other people’s misfortunes. Imagine A Year in Provence with Miss Marple and Gerald Durrell.
Recently released from Book View Press: International Kittens of Mystery. If you like a laugh and looking at cute kitten pictures this is the book for you. It’s a glance inside the International Kittens of Mystery – the only organisation on the planet with a plan to deal with a giant ball of wool on a collision course with Earth. Forget Bruce Willis and his team of miners. Send for the kitties!