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In a previous thread I discussed alternatives to chemical use in your yard and I wanted to add this but I actually felt it could be its own thread since there is so much information.
This is an ultra-fine powder, made from algae like plants and their fossilized remains or siliceous compounds. All this adds up to keeping your garden healthy and luscious green. It looks similar to talcum powder and is composed of minerals like magnesium, calcium, sodium, iron and traces of silicon as stated above. They are mostly made out of water borne plants and have been maintaining the ecology balance since historic times.
It primarily works like a pest control powder which “eats through” the exoskeleton of insects and dries them out. Moreover, since the DE works on a mechanical level more than a chemical one, the insects do not develop any resistance to diatomaceous earth. This becomes an eco-friendly alternative for killing insects as you can avoid using toxic sprays and insecticides.
In general, DE can be used for many purposes, but for a garden it is primarily used as a pesticide or insecticide. They also denote it as natural bug control.
Insects like: ants, earwigs, mites, aphids, thrips, snails & slugs, fleas, beetles, cockroaches, and many more.
(Only use food grade DE for pesticide use with vegetable crops)
Moreover, since DE does not work on a chemical level, there is no question of it degrading or dissolving in water or vaporize to pollute air, causing damage to the environment. It’s environmentally friendly.
Guidelines For Getting The Benefits Of Using Diatomaceous Earth
1. For gardens, only food grade diatomaceous earth should be used and not the one designed for swimming pools. The diatomaceous earth made for swimming pool usage contains higher amount of silica which can damage your vegetation.
2. The ultra-fine powder is powerful in killing insects, and is safe for human consumption. However, one must wear masks and stay away from directly breathing the DE while applying to gardens.
3. Wearing gloves is advisable, because the dry powder will stick to your hands, even though it will not cut your “exoskeleton” as it does with the insects, you will end up getting too much of it while you spread in your garden.
***Using DE earth in your gardens is pretty simple. The pack will have all the instructions in detail you will need for its application. The formula for DE differs with manufacturers and hence it becomes vital to pay attention to various instructions posted by the manufacturers prior to use.***
How To Apply Diatomaceous Earth In The Garden
1. Dry Method
- Fill a container like a parmesan cheese container to use as a shaker for the powder. Garden duster applicators are available as well. Avoid creating dust, it can harm your respiratory system. Wearing gloves and masks is a must, especially if you have allergies and breathing issues.
- Dust the dry powder on the plants. Experts suggest the best time suggested is morning and evening when the plants have little dew on them. The moisture helps retain the powdered DE. This powder is not effective when wet but when it dries up, insects begin to “experience” its effects.
- Applying the powder to surrounding garden beds to help to kill crawling insects before they reach your plants.
- A thick layer of DE at the base of plants helps to keep slugs, snails, or squash bugs away. Be sure to apply DE on the upper as well as underside of all plants for effects.
- Reapply powder after it rains because it will get washed away.
2. Wet Method
- Dissolve 4 tablespoons of Diatomaceous Earth powder into 1- gallon water jug. Seal the jug tightly and shake until the powder is dissolved.
- Fill a sprayer or spray bottle with the DE mixture.
- Spray plants with the solution but NOT dripping wet. Be sure to cover the undersides of leaves as well for maximum benefits.
- Once the plants dry the residue left behind looks like a think layer of powder coating the leaves. The “wet” method is best suited where windy conditions are present.
- Masks and gloves are essential here too. Some people also prefer wearing goggles while spraying the powder.
Diatomaceous Earth Warning:
#1 Though diatomaceous earth is beneficial for pest control on plants, excess can kill vegetation too. Always be careful when applying in any form, to treat your gardens with this insecticide.
#2 DE can cause irritation to eyes, skin, nose or throat and if inhaled in excessive amounts. It can also cause issues with respiratory system like short breath or coughing. Always take precautions and avoid inhaling any of the DE.
In the end, Diatomaceous earth is an excellent, eco-friendly solution for pest control in the garden. Follow the label when applying and ALWAYS purchase FOOD GRADE Diatomaceous Earth for garden use.