Quick & Easy Gardening Tips, Hints, Hacks & Ideas Are Written To Take The Uncertainty, Confusion And Myths Out Of Gardening For Newbies & This With More Expertise.

Every day I read gardening BS online. There is so much of it. And a lot of it defies common sense. So I’ve written a list of simple gardening tips for gardeners at every level.

I’m starting with just a couple of tips on day one but will keep adding to the list over the coming months.

Removing Leaves Puts The Plant’s Energy Into The Fruit

As tomatoes begin to ripen I read the “remove leaves to increase energy” idea many times every week.

Gardening Tips about ripening tomatoes

For plants to grow they need to produce sugars from the basic building blocks of carbon dioxide, water and sunlight. This is photosynthesis as taught in schools. Photosynthesis takes place in the leaves (a few plants can photosynthesise through their stems but it doesn’t happen to any extent in veg) and without leaves the plant cant continue to grow.

So plants such as tomatoes need their leaves if they are to grow, or continue to grow to their maximum genetic potential. That’s not to say we shouldn’t deleaf tomatoes to speed ripening and/or make it easier to see ripening fruit. But removing too many leaves will stop all growth. There’s another article on deleafing tomatoes if you follow the link. And it’s not to say you shouldn’t pinch out the growing tip of your tomatoes once they reach the height you want. These are all normal cultural practices. BUT, when I see people say remove all the leaves on a tomato so that they energy goes into the fruit I realise why some people make mistakes with this.

Just because someone else, who read about it online, does it, doesn’t make it the right thing to do. Plants can’t produce sugars without leaves and fruit can’t grow without these sugars. Saying they can, or “it works for me”, is a bit like the search for perpetual motion. It’s physically impossible!

Carrot Fly Confusion

I keep reading about how we can stop carrot fly by planting our carrots amongst other plants. And I’ve been told that we should avoid sowing in rows as it makes it easy for the carrot fly to find the plants. So let’s look at the logic and research on this.

Before humans developed carrots into the wonderful orange roots we see today they were just an rather insignificant plant that grew in wild places. The root was thin, straggly, woody, not very tasty and usually coloured purple or white. The carrot root fly evolved with the carrot and became very adept at finding the carrots that were mixed in amongst plants, such as wild allium and other aromatics, that grew on cliff tops and other places near the sea.

Carrot Root fly Attribution:
Rasbak, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons, Gardening Tips

So I struggle to believe that if we now hide our carrots amongst the garden plants we can confuse the carrot fly enough that they’ll not find our much bigger carrots; even if mixed with onions etc.

There is some research that indicates that intercropping of carrots with Welsh onions reduced, but didn’t eliminate, damage to carrots. And I’ve seen research that indicates that the application of Bioczos BR (a garlic based commercial product from Poland) and carrot-Welsh onion intercropping had a beneficial influence on the total and marketable yield of carrot storage roots. However I can’t see data on what is meant by “beneficial influence”. Using what measure as a baseline? It is a vague term that could mean it worked or it barely worked. I want to be convinced but can’t be based on this vague comment.

Sadly, the same research indicates that when intercropped with Dill, which is very aromatic, the carrot yield was reduced.

Carrot fly, being very adept at finding individual carrots, will be happy to find rows of carrots, but they were probably going to find most carrots anyway, whether they were in rows or not.

Some carrot varieties have partial resistance to carrot root fly and a breeding programme at Wellesbourne produced a F5 seed that has been sent to seed producers to evaluate. I’m usually all in favour of heritage veg, but in this case crossing and subsequent inbreeding to produce a F5 seed sounds promising. It certainly beats using the pyrethroids and other synthetic pesticides farmers usually rely on to keep carrot fly at bay.

Research Attribution:

Development of Carrot Inbreds with Carrot Fly Resistance. Ellis, Saw and Crowther

The Effect Of Biological Control Of The Carrot Fly (Psila Rosae) On The Yield And Quality Of Carrot (Daucus Carota L.) Storage Roots. Brygida Wierzbick & Joanna Majkowska-Gadomska 2012

More Gardening Tips to follow very soon

Photo Attribution: Carrot fly Rasbak, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Tags: Gardening Tips

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