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Diatomaceous Earth (DE)

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Post  NHGardener on 6/10/2011, 11:57 am

Does anyone use Diatomaceous Earth (food grade) in your gardens for pest control, and do you recommend it?
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Post  pattipan on 6/10/2011, 12:06 pm

@NHGardener wrote:Does anyone use Diatomaceous Earth (food grade) in your gardens for pest control, and do you recommend it?

Funny you should ask...I just filled on old Parmesan shaker with DE a little while ago. It helps with flea beetles, earwigs and slugs in my garden. I use it on eggplant and Swiss chard. You do need to re-apply it after a rain because it washes off easily.

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Post  FarmerValerie on 6/10/2011, 12:43 pm

I do use it for the animals, 1 Tbsp per 100 lbs, to worm them, and rub a bit on their coats for fleas, and spread just a bit (carefully) around their areas, but not so much in the garden, it kills the bees and since we raise honey bees, I have to be VERY careful what I use and how I use it.
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Post  NHGardener on 6/10/2011, 12:55 pm

Oh darn. It kills the bees? (I'm hoping to start with bees next spring)

What do you use for aphids then?
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Post  FarmerValerie on 6/10/2011, 1:04 pm

I use neem oil, and spray on some soapy water. I read here someone uses Murphy's Oil soap, I'm thinking of trying that as it is vegetable based.
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Post  NHGardener on 6/10/2011, 1:07 pm

So the point is to go oily so it suffocates them? I can wipe them with olive/veg oil, if that doesn't hurt the leaves' breathability.
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Post  FarmerValerie on 6/10/2011, 2:38 pm

Not sure about thatone, hopefully someone else will pop in and offer more advice.
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Post  sherryeo on 6/10/2011, 8:52 pm

Do be careful when spraying with an oil based product. You can burn the plant if you spray when the sun's out strong. Best to spray early in the morning or later in the evening and use the minimum amount of oil recommended.

I think I might even rinse the foliage after an hour or so - most of these type sprays only kill on direct contact, so any effect should have taken place by then and a very bright sun might still burn the plants with oil residue on them even the next day.

I burned some plants in my last traditional row garden with an oil based spray last summer. They never really recovered.
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Post  happycamper on 6/11/2011, 12:31 am

DE is one of the few pest control items that I use in the garden. It works on cutworms, slugs, ticks and many other pests. I also use it for the chickens and cats to make sure they don't get worms, mites or fleas.
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Post  nancy on 6/13/2011, 1:57 pm

Where do you find it? I went to Ace Hardware on Saturday and they had never heard of it. TIA!!
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Post  NHGardener on 6/13/2011, 2:10 pm

Nancy - They would have it at a farm store, where they sell chicken feed, if you have one of those near you. It's commonly used in chicken coops.
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Post  moswell on 6/13/2011, 3:23 pm

@sherryeo wrote:Do be careful when spraying with an oil based product. You can burn the plant if you spray when the sun's out strong. Best to spray early in the morning or later in the evening and use the minimum amount of oil recommended.

I think I might even rinse the foliage after an hour or so - most of these type sprays only kill on direct contact, so any effect should have taken place by then and a very bright sun might still burn the plants with oil residue on them even the next day.

I burned some plants in my last traditional row garden with an oil based spray last summer. They never really recovered.

lol - see a couple of my panicked threads from last week for more reason to be careful when using an oil-based product. Very Happy I'm hopeful that at least one of my tomato plants will recover!
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Post  martha on 6/13/2011, 10:07 pm

I respectfully submit that diatomaceous earth does not kill bees. DE will kill slugs, ants, fleas (what a miracle!) but not earthworms. I am sure there must be some beneficial insect that it kills, because nothing can be perfect, but I don't believe bees are one of them.

http://sdhydroponics.com/resources/articles/gardening/diatomaceous-earth

Posted on Jul 28, 2010

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Diatomacious Earth (often referred to as
“DE”) is an off white talc-like powder that is the fossilized remains
of marine phytoplankton. When sprinkled on a bug that has an exoskeleton
(such as an ant or flea) it gets caught between their little
exoskeleton joints.

As they move, the diatomaceous earth
acts like razor blades and cuts them up. But it doesn’t hurt mammals. We
can eat it. We do eat it! It’s in lots of grain based foods because
lots of grains are stored with diatomaceous earth to keep the bugs from
eating the grain!

Die bugs! Die!

...on a microscopic level, the
diatomaceous earth particles are very sharp looking. These particles
stick to an insect and get stuck between its exoskeleton joints. As the
insect moves, it gets physically cut up.
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Post  NHGardener on 6/13/2011, 10:31 pm

Hmmm. I wonder why it doesn't kill earthworms, if it kills other kinds of bugs, like even slugs?
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Post  martha on 6/13/2011, 11:01 pm

I have read the answer but I never retain it.

I'll get back to you!
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Post  NHGardener on 6/13/2011, 11:18 pm

Haha - I'm the champion of reading things and getting the "jist" and then forgetting all the details.

I can look it up, don't worry about it.
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Post  petals1973 on 6/13/2011, 11:18 pm

@FarmerValerie wrote:I do use it for the animals, 1 Tbsp per 100 lbs, to worm them, and rub a bit on their coats for fleas, and spread just a bit (carefully) around their areas, but not so much in the garden, it kills the bees and since we raise honey bees, I have to be VERY careful what I use and how I use it.

Val, you grow bees? Awesome. I want to see! My dad had a couple of beehives when I was little. He passed when I was six so that was a long long time ago.
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Post  martha on 6/13/2011, 11:37 pm

Val, can we chat about the bees? Because if I am wrong about DE/bees, I would much rather lose things to slugs than to endanger the few honey bees that I am fortunate to have.
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Post  shannon1 on 6/14/2011, 3:03 am

Martha I think one just needs not use DE on plants that are in flower or apply at all when bees are active to avoid bee death. It seems there are 2 camps on the web from the research I have done. I will use it if I must as a last resort. If I can use BT, hand picking, snipping the little devils in half ect. I do that first.
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Post  Tril on 6/14/2011, 8:08 am

"When sprinkled on a bug that has an exoskeleton
(such as an ant or flea) it gets caught between their little
exoskeleton joints."

Bees have an exoskeleton... why wouldn't it also kill them?

If I can remember, I'll ask my FIL about it. He's been a beekeeper for 40+ years and he's a biologist. He helped found our state beekeeping association and was president of it for years... beekeeping is his passion. LOTS of experience there! Wish I had read this yesterday... I was at his house in the afternoon helping him with a power point presentation he did last night on honeybees!
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Post  NHGardener on 6/14/2011, 8:11 am

Wow Tril, would I love to get his ear for a few hours! Or days. Having an experienced beekeeper in your family is an absolute treasure.
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Post  Tril on 6/14/2011, 8:22 am

LOL... he could certainly spend days (weeks) talking bees! I've been in the family now for nearly 33 years. I've never once been in his company when bees haven't been discussed at some point. Smile I was even his "bee-sitter" one winter, when we lived in his house while he was in FL. It's funny how one person's "normal" (as in, bee stuff) is another person's OMG stuff. My youngest son had some testing done when he was in 2nd grade. The test administrator told me he had answered a question that no other student had ever answered correctly in her 25+ years of experience. The question was, "What is a male bee called?" She said she about dropped off her chair when he casually answered, "A drone." Because of his experience, she might have just as well asked him to identify a chair. LOL Needless to say... we have all the honey we could possibly eat around here. Would you believe, I HATE (as in detest) honey? Even the smell of it makes me gag. I'm not much help when it comes time to extract the honey!!
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Post  Denese on 6/14/2011, 8:32 am

The following link has some great info on DE. It explains the earthworm conundrum and also says not to use it on flowering plants to protect bees.

http://wolfcreekranch1.tripod.com/defaq.html
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Post  NHGardener on 6/14/2011, 9:00 am

Tril - Youth is wasted on the young, and bee fanatic f-i-l's are wasted on honey-hating d-i-l's. rofl

That's a really funny 2nd grade story! I'll be your f-i-l was proud as punch over that.

Beekeeping does seem to be less a hobby and more a religion. HA.
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Post  Tril on 6/14/2011, 9:16 am

I hate honey... but I love honeybees! When I was leaving his house yesterday I heard a bee buzzing by my open car door. I couldn't find it. I wasn't going to leave with it in my car, though... so I waited until I found it and made sure it was outside. I kept thinking, "Oh little bee... your queen needs you... don't come home with me!" LOL

And you are so right about it not being a hobby... that doesn't begin to describe the passion beekeepers have. My FIL's license plate is simply "BEES". He wanted my MIL to have "QUNBEE" but she wouldn't do it.

Denese... I'm pretty positive DE hurts bees. I wouldn't use it near flowering plants for that reason.
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