Covers for Carrot Beds and EEC Regulations on Pesticides
27th Feb 2003
When you have a couple of days to spare, might I suggest that you build yourself a temporary cover to go over your carrot beds, both for the long and the short if they are being grown outside. I did this about two years ago over my short carrots (the long ones are inside the polytunnel now) and I have had some excellent results. The way I went about it was to purchase a roll of Enviromesh, not fleece, and a bundle of tanalised or treated roofing battens.
The idea was to build a box type construction to cover each bed with a hinged lid on top so that I could get easy access to remove any weeds as well as for watering. Not only does it stop all the flies and aphids from getting at them and transmitting disease such the motley virus, it also gives excellent protection from strong winds. I first made myself some upright pieces from the battens and these were driven into the sand at each corner of the bed; If you have a fairly long bed then you will need some intermediate posts as well.
Make sure that you start level, in my case the block work beds are already level so by measuring 18 inches for the top of the beds to the top of the upright each time I knew the bed would be level. I then cut the battens to length to form frames that I could eventually screw on the uprights. To form a square or rectangular frame I went into my local B&Q and bought some thin steel brackets that screw into each end holding them firmly together.
The next thing is to lay the enviromesh on top of the frame, to do this prpoperly, you really need some help. The fleece is stapled to the batten at one end and then pulled tight, without bending the battens, and again stapled. Reapeat this all round and then cut off any surplus. The enviromesh is made from a type of nylon, believe me it really is tough, you will need to use a Stanley type knife with a sharp blade or a sharp pair of scissors. Once each panel has been completed they can then be screwed in position against the uprights, one screw each end is sufficient. This is only a temporary structure and come the first show in August, the panels or frames are removed and stored away over winter. This way, with the timber being treated and the panels well stored they should last for many years.
The reason for all this work is really two fold, first, as I have mentioned above and secondly because it's getting more and more frustrating trying to get hold of chemicals for amateur use in the garden. The fact is that before very long we won't have a chemical left that the amateur gardener can use, yet if you look at the green book, as it's often referred to, the pesticides directory, it's over an inch thick and full of various chemicals for the professionals need.
The fact is that there are plenty of material out there that the amateur could well do with, but because of EEC regulations that now state you have to review all active ingredients in pesticides, they are fast being withdrawn.
If you ask the chemical companies that supply amateur products, they will all tell you that the costs incurred in conducting this revue is far too much to pay for what they say is a small market. In other words, there isn't a sufficient amount of return on their capital invested. Take Armillatox for instance, it's been around for 35 years it's an organically based material, yet it will be withdrawn; sales will stop on the 25th July and it will be illegal to use it after the 31st December. Not because it isn"t safe, it's the costs that the company have to incur to conduct the revue of all active ingredients that make up the product. I have been informed by Armillatox that the cost would be in the region of £3.5 million pounds, totally illogical to me and a ridiculous sum of money for a small company to find.
Compliance with the EEC
If the EEC want small companies to comply with this legislation, why don't they give them a grant towards the cost. Iit would certainly keep people in employment that may otherwise have to be dispensed with.
European Directive 91414
All this has come about as result of European Directive 91414, which is a review of all active ingredients in pesticides. Mark my words, we haven't heard the last of this legislation either. It's certainly going to have far reaching repercussions, affecting things such as hormone rooting powder (which is 99% chalk) as well as medicinal herbs etc. The daft thing is that if Armillatox were to spend money in changing their current label and called their product a patio cleaner or greenhouse cleaner, then there wouldn't be a problem. It would still be the same product exactly, but if you or I used it to sterilise our soil or as a moss killer or to control the incidence of Club root on brassicas we would be committing an illegal act. After the end of December we would be breaking the law, yet on most patios you will also find moss in crevices, are we then committing an illegal act when cleaning the patio and killing moss at the same time?
What I would like to know is, whose going to police such a legislation that is patently daft? Personally I find this as crazy as trying to find straight bananas or trying to say that a carrot is not a vegetable, all further nonsense from the EEC.