Grow Carrots – Fly Free

The first thing to do when growing carrots is to choose your carrot seed. It is probably best to visit a garden centre, or obtain a seed merchant’s catalogue, as there are many, many varieties to choose from. You could have early maturing or late maturing carrots, ones that are OK to leave in the ground after frosts begin, orange ones, yellow ones, purple ones, round ones, thin ones and baby ones. The choice is yours, but having tried several of the unusual varieties I find that the plain old orange ones have the best flavour and vigour.

It’s important to prepare the ground well. Carrots do not like manure, and if they are put into manured ground they will grow into tortuous shapes to try and avoid the muck, thus making them unusable in the kitchen, (unless you are particularly fond of trying to peel carrots with twelve curled legs). I grow carrots on ground which was manured the previous season, so for example, I will manure the ground well one year and grow a bean crop on it. The beans will lock the nitrogen from the manure into the soil, and the following year I will grow carrots where the beans were. This type of crop rotation also helps prevent the build up of soil borne diseases.

Carrot flies, which create nasty brown channels in your carrots, cannot actually fly very far, they fling themselves around, hoping to land on your carrot crop, which they can smell, so one way of limiting their damage is to erect a physical barrier about two feet high all around the carrot bed. Another way to deter them is to mask the smell of the carrots.

I have had my best results with carrots when I grow them between rows of garlic. Garlic should be planted between October and Christmas Day,, and so is growing vigourously by the time carrot seeds are going in. The smell of the garlic really masks the smell of the carrots, and I rarely have any problems with root fly.

The dangerous time for attracting carrot root fly is when you harvest the carrots. Simply touching the leaves produces that wonderful fresh carrot smell, which signals a meal to both us and the carrot fly. I’m sure my fellow allotment holders think I’m mad, but when I harvest carrots, I burn a little citronella tea light in a jar, and rub a few garlic leaves for good measure (of course, I’m always careful to extinguish the tea light before I leave my plot).

Try out my little tips above, and enjoy fly free carrots with your supper!

Georgina Crawford has published two children’s books, articles for UK gardening magazines and the nursing press. She also writes online at and has a blog. She is also a freelance copywriter.

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