Author: Katrina Savell

Did you know Diatomaceous Earth is a highly effective organic alternative to pesticides?

In its food grade form it is completely safe for humans, pets and the environment, but is actually a potent killer of aphids, white flies, snails, slugs, fleas and ants. Further, is it rich in nutrients which is beneficial to micro-organisms and earthworms, so it doesn’t just protect your vegetable garden, it helps it to flourish.

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

Diatomaceous Earth is composed of tiny fossilised shells of algae-like marine plants (diatoms). When these are ground up, they have the look and texture of talcum powder, which is safe for us, but has razor sharp edges that cut through the protective coverings of pests. As one of the major components of Diatomaceous Earth is air, it rapidly absorbs liquid, which leads to the dehydration of the pest, and is therefore an ultimate pest barrier.

What grade of Diatomaceous Earth to use for the vegetable garden

Firstly, you will require food grade not pool grade Diatomaceous Earth for the garden. Pool grade Diatomaceous Earth contains crystalline silica and is extremely hazardous to humans and animals. Food grade Diatomaceous Earth can be purchased from online retailers or alternatively, from a livestock feed store.

When best to treat your vegetable garden with Diatomaceous Earth

It is important you apply Diatomaceous Earth when it is not raining. As it is a powder, the rain will wash it away easily. You will also need to ensure that the soil around the vegetable plant is not too wet. Damp is okay. If you do have rain, you will need to reapply it afterwards.

Ongoing, after very light rain or dew is the ideal time to apply the Diatomaceous Earth.

How to apply Diatomaceous Earth to your vegetable garden

You will need to shake the powder in a ring around the plant on the soil, as well as dust the plant itself.

In terms of the actual applicator, there are a couple of ways you can make a Diatomaceous Earth “powder shaker”.  Personally, I went to my local pharmacy, bought a cheap talcum powder, cleaned out the container and reassembled it with the Diatomaceous Earth as its contents. I have found this to be very effective.

Another popular method is to make a shaker out of an old coffee can by punching holes in the bottom of the can with a nail. Simply cover the end with the holes and fill with Diatomaceous Earth.

Even better – it’s environmentally friendly too!

Worth mentioning again, not only does Diatomaceous Earth kill pests and form a protective barrier to your vegetable garden it is a natural and cost effective alternative to chemicals.

We’ll keep you posted on more great ideas to help your vegetable garden flourish with organic applications.

Katrina Savell is a freelance writer and Director of The Word Depot, a media and communications consultancy.

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