Using Diatomaceous Earth in the Garden
If you haven’t heard of diatomaceous earth yet, then prepare to be amazed! This all-natural product is great for the garden, and it can help you grow a beautiful and healthy garden each and every year.
What is Diatomaceous Earth?
Diatomaceous earth is made from fossilized water plants known as diatoms. DE or diatomite is actually a siliceous sedimentary mineral compound from the remains of these algae, which date back to prehistoric times. The chalky deposits left behind are known as diatomite, and diatomite deposits are mind and ground up to make up a powder known as diatomaceous earth.
Diatomaceous earth is composed of approximately 2% iron, 3% magnesium, 5% sodium, 19% calcium, and 33 % silicon. The remaining percentage is composed of several trace elements.
For use in the garden, it is incredibly important you purchase only “food grade” diatomaceous earth, not the industrial grade DE that is used for swimming pool filters. The DE used in swimming pool filters goes through a different manufacturing process that changes its concentration of silica. Even when you do use food grade diatomaceous earth, it may be a good idea to use a mask just so you don’t inhale too much of the DE dust, as it can cause minor irritation in your nose and mouth.
DE Use in the Garden
The uses for DE continue to grow due to its pure silica content, however traditionally it has always been a great insecticide you can use in your garden to get rid of pests like:
• Adult Flea Beetles
To the insects, diatomaceous earth is a lethal dust that cuts through the protective exoskeleton, causing the insects to dry out, almost instantaneously killing them when they are dusted or when you directly apply a wet spray onto insects.
One of the best aspects to diatomaceous earth is that insects can never develop a tolerance to it, unlike many of the chemical insecticides on the market nowadays. In addition, diatomaceous earth does not harm the worms or any of the other microorganisms in the soil.
Applying Diatomaceous Earth in the Garden
Most diatomaceous earth sellers will have complete instructions on how to apply their product. As with any product, you should read the label thoroughly and follow the directions to a tee. The directions should help you understand how to properly apply diatomaceous earth both in the garden and indoors to control many indoor pests like bed bugs and ants.
In the garden, diatomaceous earth is often applied as a dust with a dust applicator approved for use with diatomaceous earth. Keep pets and children clear of the dusting are until the dust has settle.
If it rains after the dust application, you may need to re-apply DE in your garden. It is recommended you apply DE right after or light rain or very early in the morning because the morning dew helps DE stick well to the foliage in the garden.
Some people claim mixing DE into a wettable form is a better way you can apply diatomaceous earth since you avoid the dust particles problem all together. If you’ve got pets, children, or just plan on using DE indoors, this may be a smart option. Remember, there are silica supplements which offer food-grade versions of diatomaceous earth – this is not necessary for gardens and improving plant health and resiliency.
If you do plan on using a wet form of DE, the recommended mix ratio is normally one cup of diatomaceous earth per half gallon of water. So two cups of diatomaceous earth should be used per gallon of water. You’ll also want to mix and stir the DE mixture often because DE tends to settle to the bottom when it is not agitated.
DE is truly an amazing product for our gardens and in our homes. Once you start using DE in your garden, you’ll wish you had found it years ago!