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BONNIE'S GARDEN--Diatomaceous Earth

Thursday, August 31, is National Diatomaceous Earth Day.  So what is diatomaceous earth? 

Diatomaceous earth is the fossilized remains of a diatom.  Okay, so what is a diatom?  Well, diatoms are single-celled marine algae.  It’s estimated that diatoms are responsible for 20 to 40% of the world’s oxygen, which is a bi-product of photosynthesis.    Diatom’s surround themselves with a shell made primarily of silica.  The fossilized remains form diatomite which is then crumbled into a fine powder.  That is diatomaceous earth.

Diatomaceous earth is used for filtration systems in swimming pools, aquariums, even drinking water facilities.  It is mildly abrasive and is sometimes used in abrasive cleansers.  And it’s a very effective pesticide against crawling insects like ants, roaches, silverfish, etc. 

It can be sprinkled behind appliances in the kitchen for roaches or ants or under pet’s bedding for fleas.  It’s very drying and causes the insect to rapidly dehydrate and die within a day or two.  Some types can be made into a slurry and “painted” on plants or put into a “duster” (like you’d use for Sevin dust) and dusted on plants.  It can even be used around mattresses for bed bugs!

I’ve sprinkled it at the base of plants to prevent insects from crawling up.  I used to have a problem with slugs crawling up my eggplant and nibbling at the fruit so I sprinkled diatomaceous earth around the soil at the base of the plant.  Voila!  No more slug trails!  I’ve even used it before applying mulch next to the foundation of the house to help keep down earwigs.  Applying it around the foundation of the house is also an excellent way to prevent ants from finding their way inside.

It’s a good product but, as with anything, do read the label directions before using it.  I wouldn’t apply it on a windy day as it’s best not to breathe the dust.   Because even an organic product can kill beneficial insects, be sure to use it only on what is needed and I would not apply it at all to blooming plants that attract bees and butterflies.
Still, it is one more useful tool in my organic tool chest!
 
Posted: 8/29/2017 by Bonnie Pega | with 0 comment(s)
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