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Ben Raskin answers your carrot and basil questions

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Ben Raskin Ben Raskin | 10:31 UK time, Thursday, 27 May 2010

Soil Association gardening expert Ben Raskin answers your questions about carrot fly and black spots on basil. If you have a similar story to share, you can add your comments at the bottom of this entry. You need to register first, which only takes two minutes.

Richard Simon asks: If you are protecting your carrots with fleece, do you leave the fleece on the carrots until they are ready to harvest or is there a point in time when the carrot root fly will leave them alone?

Answer: To ensure you don't get root fly, you will probably need to keep the fleece on. I would recommend using the tougher mesh rather than fleece. It is more expensive but will last much longer and allows better ventilation and watering. Under fleece, crops can get very hot. Those carrots you eat young may not need fleecing, it is mostly the maincrop carrots you are leaving in the ground for a long time that are affected.

Mrs M Shaw asks: I always have trouble growing basil because it always seems to get black spots on the leaves and also attracts tiny little flies. I grow it on the kitchen window sill.

Answer:: Basil likes it sunny, hot and dry. Is your window sill sunny, and what temperature is your kitchen? Does it get cold (that is, below 10c) at night for instance? How much are you watering it? While of course it won't like drying out totally, basil definitely does not like sitting with its feet in wet soil all the time. It is difficult without seeing pics what the flies are and why they are arriving, you could try hoovering them up by holding your vacuum cleaner a few inches from the plant and gently shaking it to dislodge the flies.

If anyone else has had similar problems with carrot fly or black spots on their basil, add your comments below.

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