We had this discussion today down the allotment. There are times when you question whether keeping the allotment very clean and free of weeds is the best strategy.
One year I could not keep the allotment weeded due to pressure of work and it got particularly weedy. I had planted some summer cauliflowers but thought that they had perished under the weight of the overhanging rank mess of weeds. However, when I came to clear this bed I found that the cauliflowers had formed large heads and were ready to be harvested. Furthermore, they were as clean as a whistle and had no cabbage white or slugs in them.
Nowadays, I molly coddle them carefully putting fleece or netting over them to keep the caterpillars and slugs off them and they form infested little heads of no use to man or beast. Actually the beasts do eat them and that's the problem.
So how do the weeds do that?
Weeds can keep carrot root fly at bay as well. There is an allotmenteer that has not weeded his carrots and they are as big as any on the allotment site. He just plants the seed in the soil without covering them with a barrier to keep carrot root fly at bay. How does that happen? I meticulously cover my carrots with enviromesh every year but if I take the mesh off for a couple of minutes to weed the fly is in like a shot.
The trouble is I can't stand having an untidy allotment. So all us allotmenteers with clean allotments might be missing out on getting really good harvests because we weed so carefully.
Got a whole lot of potatoes out today. Washed them carefully because they did have some slugs in them and have brought them home to bag up. I haven't weighed them but I reckon on about 6lb or 2kg per plant. Some big potatoes.