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Root Fly Maggot

Hi There,

First time gardener here having recently moved into a house with a small garden for the first time! Keen to learn however an absolute beginner so do excuse me if what I ask below seems obvious! :smile:

In the garden there are two small raised wooden planters which I would like to try growing some simple veg (lettuce and spring onions) in. In the both planters were some old dead plants and crusty looking soil which looked like it hadn't been worked with for a while. My plan was to remove the old plants, revitalise the soil and mix with some compost and then plant lettuce and spring onions.

For the first planter this worked fine however as I was digging into the second planter I revealed that the soil was crawling with maggots! Upon investigation I read that this could be 'root fly' maggots. We live in a rural location next to a farm with a lot of flies around so that would, unfortunately, fit. The soil was so full of maggots that I removed it all from the planter and plan to 're-start' it.

Does anyone know a good way to keep these pests away? With the abundance of flies around here I am worried this could be a real issue. I have seen online that some people mention sprinkling ash on top of the soil? We have a wood burner and an abundance of ash so this would be preferable however I can't see this method actually verified by anyone! 

Furthermore, does anyone know when I need to be vigilant for these pests? I am guessing that as these are 'root' maggots I don't need to worry about them coming back until my veg is beginning to grow substantial roots or do I need to worry about them as soon as I sow seeds?

Many thanks for any advice anyone can give!


  • barry islandbarry island Posts: 1,054
    I only know of cabbage root fly and carrot fly but if you are in the UK i doubt that any of these will be in the maggot stage at this time of the year.
  • devon900devon900 Posts: 2
    Thanks for your response. Just went out to look at a third planter and found the same again in the soil! Upon further research and closer inspection I think these are actually vine weevil grubs. I do have some pictures which I could post?  Looking online the prognosis does not look good! Is the most effective thing to do here just remove the soil from these planters and replace with new soil? 
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 9,881
    If vine weevil then yes, remove the soil and spread it thinly on a plastic sheet or tarpaulin and the birds will eat the grubs for you, or they will dry out in the sun.  You can then use the 'cleaned' soil on your garden beds etc., but I wouldn't risk re-using it in the planter.
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
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