Saturday, July 08, 2006

Carrot and shtick

I love clever people.

Especially innovators, guys who eschew the old routines, always looking for new solutions to ancient problems. These people can pop up in the most surprising places.

I was watching a gardenining programme recently. Actually, to be truthful, I was reading the paper while the programme was on. They were visiting an allotment on the edge of a large city. You know, plots of land the council provides for people who don't have gardens of their own.

The tricky problem of the carrot root fly was raised. This little beast flys around gardens seeking out the scent of growing carrots. When it latches onto your carrots it homes in on them like an Exocet and lays its eggs and in pretty short order the little blighters are eating all your carrots, weeks before you do.

This problem has been around since man first started growing root crops. Modern solutions include erecting polythene barriers around the plants, covering the growing carrots with (expensive) fleece, companion planting with garlic to mask the scent, developing resistant varieties and finally drenching the soil with chemical controls like chlorpyrifos or diazinon.

One of the allotment holders had come up with his own solution. He grew prize carrots, flawless and unblemished. He didn't use any of these modern prophylactic methods.

"Geeze," said the presenter, himself an expert gardener, "What on earth is your secret?"

The allotment holder seemed surprised by the all the fuss. "I earth them up until the danger is past," he said, in a thick Birmingham accent.

I nearly fell off the settee, laughing with pleasure. The little guy was a genius, my all-time gardening hero.


  1. Simple things... always a pleasure!!

  2. Wot no depression?
    I have been girding my loins all day for a post on the Big D. Get your finger out Pundy, let's get this one on the road before I'm reaching for the leftover diazapam!!

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