Homeschool Garden Club - Maggots

Despite the cold and windy May Bank Holiday, we are planting out this year’s first vegetable seedlings. We are learning out crop rotation as an important part of the planting any plant here at the Orchard Training Homeschooling Garden Club. Moving crops to a different bed each year helps to reduce problems with nutrient depletion and a build-up of soil-borne diseases, plus it prevents overwintering pupae of crop pests like maggots. Here is the advice we have from our link with the Big Bug Watch. The larvae of flies, maggots are often highly specialised in their dietary requirements. Rusty tunnels in your carrots or parsnips are a sure sign of carrot root fly, maggots feeding on the roots of onions are onion root fly larvae, and wilted brassicas with rice-like maggots around the roots are cabbage root fly…you get the picture. Fussy eaters they may be, but maggots can ruin a crop. Once the flies have laid their eggs in the soil around your plants, it's unlikely the plant’s roots will escape damage. Fleece or fine netting tunnel – the edges well weighted down with boards or buried into the soil to avoid leaving any gap that the flies could sneak in through – are a straightforward solution that will keep your crop safe. Some gardeners like to use vertical 'fences' of fleece around carrot and onion family crops, but others report than this can sometimes be hit-and-miss. Collars made from thick cardboard or roofing felt are an option for protecting cabbage family plants such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Cut a circle or square of cardboard or felt roughly six inches (15cm) wide, slit it to the middle and make a Y-shaped cut in the centre, then slide it around the plant’s main stem to prevent the flies from laying their eggs in the soil around it. Before planting, cultivate the soil shallowly with a fork or cultivator tool to help bring maggots to the surface and let your local friendly robin deal with them. Alternatively, banish any you find on your bird table or feed them to chickens, who will dispatch them quickly. Ground beetles also enjoy maggots, so make sure to provide plenty of mulch for them to root around in.

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