Diatomaceous Earth with Calcium Bentonite
Red Lake Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is a dust made of the fossilized remains of one-celled plants called diatoms. Although contact with the dust poses no risk to people, it is deadly to animals with exoskeletons. The microscopic fossils have razor-sharp edges that scratch the outer shell of insects, causing insects to dehydrate and die. Food-grade diatomaceous earth does not contain toxins or chemicals, but it is an effective pesticide against a wide variety of garden pests including aphids, beetle grubs, ants and squash bugs. Diatomaceous earth can even be used as a pesticide in Certified Organic vegetable production, according to the Colorado State University Extension.
Fill a shaker container with diatomaceous earth. Avoid creating dust by using a spoon to transfer the powder to the container. Although diatomaceous earth is non-toxic, you should not breathe the fine dust. Consider wearing a disposable face mask if you will be working with large quantities of the powder or if you have respiratory issues.
- Shake the powder onto the vegetable plants. The best time to do this is in early morning or late evening, when the plants are wet with dew. The moisture helps the dust to adhere to the plant. Diatomaceous earth won’t harm insects when it is wet, but it will be effective once it dries. Shake the powder on the vegetables as well as the leaves; the powder can be easily washed off the vegetables prior to consumption.
- Apply the powder to the garden bed and to the area surrounding the garden. This will keep many crawling insects from even reaching the vegetable plants.
- Pour a thick ring of diatomaceous earth around the base of plants to deter snails, slugs and squash bugs.
Spray the vegetable plants with a garden hose if it is not the time of year for morning or evening dew. Wait until the excess water drips from the plants, and then shake the powder on the damp plants.
- Pour 4 tablespoons of diatomaceous earth into a 1-gallon jug of water. Seal the jug and shake to dissolve the powder.
- Fill a spray bottle with the mixture.
- Spray the plants until they are wet but not dripping. Spray the undersides of leaves, as well. This method works well for treating all parts of the plants with diatomaceous earth.
- Allow the plants to dry. The water “glues” the powder to the plants. Once the plants dry, they will have a thin, even coating of powder. This spray method also works well in windy conditions, when it would be difficult to use the shaker to dust the plants.
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