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Posts Tagged ‘plant pests’

Diatomaceous Earth: Organic Pest Control For Your Vegetable Garden

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

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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How Hydrogen Peroxide In The Garden Can Help Your Vegetables To Flourish

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Author: Katrina Savell

When I think of hydrogen peroxide, a few things come to mind – hospitals, blonde hair, a white shirt’s best friend. Of course, there are also the old fashioned tales about it healing scratched knees and elbows… That was until I did a bit of research on this so called chemical and found some amazing uses for hydrogen peroxide in the garden.

Did you know that hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is actually in its anatomical make up, very similar to water? The only difference being that it has an additional oxygen atom. It is actually this extra oxygen atom that gives H2O2 its useful properties.

Many disease causing organisms, pests, algae, fungus and spores are killed by oxygen, which is why the additional oxygen in H2O2 is so handy in the garden. It is actually an oxygen supplement for plants. It is great for both in ground plants, as well as potted varieties, greenhouses and raised garden beds, and of course – VEGETABLE GARDENS!

What are the general uses of Hydrogen Peroxide in the Garden?

There are various ways to incorporate hydrogen peroxide in the garden, including, general fertilising, pest control (especially for vegetable gardens) plants with root rot, to treat sprouting seeds, as an infection preventative on tree cuts or even as a spray to control mould and mildew in damper areas.

What strength hydrogen peroxide do I require for my plants?

As a guide, the answer is VERY little. You will need the lowest strength of H2O2 (3%) and this will need to be diluted (please see below). There will be some variance depending on the need of application – but as a rule less is more.

For general fertiliser used around the roots of plants, for pest control, or misting leaves from a spray bottle, use 1 teaspoon per cup of water. This would also be the case for sprouting seeds to assist with prevention of mould and fungus which is always a challenge when establishing plants.

For sick or unhealthy plants with root rot or to fix fungal problems, use 1 tablespoon per cup of water. A general rule is that if the application is used as a preventative treatment, it would require less than half the strength of H2O2 required for correcting problems in the garden.

Getting started and the correct application for hydrogen peroxide in the garden

To get started with treating your garden with H2O2, you will require:

• 3 percent hydrogen peroxide

• Plant misting bottle

• Measuring cup/spoon

• Water

If you do make up a solution and wish to store it for periodic watering and treatment, please be sure to keep it in a cool, well ventilated space away from light, as light affects its potency.

How often should I treat my vegetable garden with hydrogen peroxide?

For pest prevention and general fertilizing, you will need to spray each vegetable plant with your made up solution till they are drenched on their leaves and around their roots. Repeat this after every rainfall episode or as required. For plants with problems, you will need to be guided by the appearance of the plant itself. Once you see a significant improvement, you can cut back to just after rainfall.

Even better – it’s environmentally friendly too!

Now that you have established your use for hydrogen peroxide in the garden, the strength required and application (via spray mist bottle) of the H2O2, you can feel confident that you are using an environmentally friendly alternative to pesticides, anti-fungal and fertilising treatments.

You can watch your plants grow just like after a good rainfall all year round!

It is our recommendation that you do not attempt to use more than a 3% strength hydrogen peroxide in the garden as it can easily burn your skin and cause irritation. Please remember you only require a very small amount of H2O2 diluted, to make your garden and vegetables flourish.

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

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