Diatomaceous Earth

greyfurball Posts: 591 ✭✭✭✭

How many use food grade DE in their yard and garden?

I have used it for the last 7 years in my yard for flea and tick control. It does work superb (overtime) controlling those. Thus since I have a lot of wild/feral and dumped cats on my property it has been a major help to all of them also.

In my garden, I'm more selective. I try really hard to find other control measures first (never anything chemical based-only organics). And I also steer clear of things like Neem Oil and BT bacillus only as a last resort (thus I've never used them yet although I do have them. When I was a newbie to gardening I didn't know any better not to purchase them.)

But occasionally the climate becomes a detrimental factor in gardening and this year was one of them. All kinds of things went wrong all because I could not control the climatic changes which were hurting some of the plants.

And although DE doesn't help with plant disease, the stress and loss of immunity made more plants more susceptible to pests.

Since DE is detrimental though to almost all pests that means when I use it in the garden, I'm not only killing off the bad pests...I'm killing off the good also. So to date my solution has only been I will only use DE in the garden as low as possible on each plant. Never will I sprinkle it higher up where there is blossoms.

Now I know that might sound non-productive to many. I've often been told if it helps, sprinkle it all over. But I can't make myself create another problem (kill off all my pollinators and good bugs) just so I can get rid of the troublesome ones.

So has anyone else who grows organically figured out a solution for this in their garden?


  • merlin44
    merlin44 Posts: 426 ✭✭✭✭
    edited October 2019

    I sprinkle DE in my chicken houses, hen's nesting boxes, in and around the goat's barn and yard, I dust the outside dogs, their house and yard. It's also an ingredient in the herbal wormer I use for the critters. But I stopped using it in the garden when I learned it killed the good with the bad.

    Too many of our pollinators are being destroyed by the poisons society continues to use. (It appears "we" will not realize money cannot be eaten before killing off what can.)

  • Leslie Carl
    Leslie Carl Posts: 255 ✭✭✭✭

    I agree with @merlin44 concerning pollinators. I don't use DE in the garden either. But I have had some decent results using kaolin clay made into a spray. It doesn't kill insects. It's an irritant that the bugs don't like so they avoid it. I was using it on my fruit trees and roses with great results (bye bye japanese beetles!), so I decided to use it on other plants in the garden.

    The spray dries into a light powder coating that allows respiration and light through but protects from scalding rays in hot weather. It also protects against bacterial disease which is a huge plus here in humid North Carolina.

  • chimboodle04
    chimboodle04 Posts: 286 ✭✭✭

    I have also found that paying attention to a plants actual health can go along ways towards pest prevention. Over the years, I have noticed that those of my plants that were well hydrated and thriving had far fewer pests on them than those plants that were not as well off. For example, two years ago my runner beans were doing great - however we did not have a lot of natural rain that summer. If I forgot to water them regularly, then the Japanese beetles would flock to them, but once they were watered consistently and adequately, most of the beetles actually left to find something else to feed off of! Just my personal observation, but worth noting :) It is also worth mentioning that healthy plants also seem to have a far better rate of surviving and producing through a pest problem, possibly eliminating the need to even intervene and treat them (if the pest level is moderate and not a total infestation). This happened with my cucumbers plants last year - When I started to see signs of cucumber beetles, I did spray with neem oil initially. Once the plants started to form flower buds however, I stopped totally to prevent harm to the pollinators. The cucumber beetles remained throughout the rest of the season, but we also harvested a bumper crop of pickling cucumbers that year. Providing optimum conditions to support the health of the plants I believe goes a long ways towards prevention and pest management.

  • greyfurball
    greyfurball Posts: 591 ✭✭✭✭

    @Leslie Carl I have heard of kaolin clay once but never got to try it. I wanted to do more research to confirm it's safety factor but who knows why... I never got it done.

    Since you mention it here again can you give us specific instructions. You know the usual brand to look for/ mixing rates and application instructions. or whatever you happen to know about it.

    I might give it a try because all of Spring and early Summer was just rain, rain and more rain. Then in June it stopped and we got no rain until just a few weeks ago.

    There was just all kinds of screwy climatic changes this Summer and the plants couldn't adjust to all the stress Mother Nature was giving them.

    So it was obvious I need a back-up plan since I just can't bring myself to get that DE out for the garden.

    I'd rather lose crops than the wrong bugs.

  • VickiP
    VickiP Posts: 586 ✭✭✭✭

    We also have used DE in our chicken coops and avoid using it in the garden. We have used it as a perimeter barrier around our house for insect control.

  • Leslie Carl
    Leslie Carl Posts: 255 ✭✭✭✭
    edited October 2019

    @greyfurball Yes, I like to protect the good bugs too! The brand of kaolin clay I found that is OMRI approved is called Surround WP. I bought a 25 lb. bag from groworganic.com. They had the least expensive one I could find. I used a 2 gallon hand held sprayer and had to shake it to mix it up every couple of minutes because I didn't have a fancy sprayer with a mixer. The clay tends to settle in the bottom so you have to keep mixing it up.

    They say to apply it every 7-21 days or after a heavy rain. The rain will eventually wash it all off. You will have to wash the clay off of anything that you harvest that has some on it.

    It takes 3 cups of clay powder for each gallon of water. Put the water in the sprayer first, then sprinkle the clay into it so that it doesn't go in as one glop. Wait for the clay to all get wet before shaking it up.

    Spray the tops and bottoms of leaves and on the fruit trees I also spray the limbs and trunk. Spraying the trunk will keep the ants from climbing the tree and helps protect from sun scald.

    You don't want to get the clay on your skin, so wear long sleeves and gloves. It was also suggested to wear a painters mask so you don't inhale any of it, but I couldn't stand wearing the mask in the heat so I just made sure I wasn't down wind of where I was spraying.

  • kbmbillups1
    kbmbillups1 Posts: 1,377 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I bought food grade DE to use a pest control around my house. I can't stand palmetto bugs!! I've tried so many things to keep them out of our house but they used to always find a way in at night. Nasty things!! The DE has worked the best so far of anything we've tried. I didn't want to spray bug spray around our house but my husband felt we needed to - so he did both inside and out. The DE has worked so much better! It did take a couple weeks to start working though. Now we see one every so often. Then I use my duster to put more DE around the outside of our house & in any cracks and crevices.

    @Leslie Carl I have some kaolin clay. I've never thought of using it in that way. Thanks! I'm going to give it a try.

  • greyfurball
    greyfurball Posts: 591 ✭✭✭✭

    @Leslie Carl thanks leslie for the great description.

    The only thing that made me laugh was your mentioning to wash all produce first. Not fair. I'm one of those that nibble my way thru the garden having breakfast. Pick a few berries and nibble. Snow peas, small tomatoes a green bean or two etc. etc.

    Now I'll actually have to fix something instead of my buffet in the garden each day.

    Thanks again.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,519 admin

    So, would this clay spray work to keep does beetles off of plants & produce? The farmers here LOVE to grow canola. Someone is growing it at any one time through the summer...and so, we now have increasing horrible infestations of them every year, and even on ceilings in the house since they can fit through window screens. The growing practices also appear to increase aphid infestations too at about the same time.

    I have had radishes, beautiful only the lonely flowers (the whole plant, actually), dill and more to them covering and eating these plants. It is frustrating & sad.

    It would be nice to enjoy these things in spite of the practices around our place.