I went out to the garden today to pick some strawberries and found the ants had discovered my succulent little treats! As an organic gardener, I do share my garden with insects, many that are beneficial to my plants. I prefer not to have ants in the garden though because, like slugs, they can quickly devour the food I’m carefully growing before I can get to it.
My favorite natural pest control product is diatomaceous earth. This substance is an excellent treatment for any pest that has an exoskeleton; fleas, mites, flies, spiders, ants etc. We’ve treated fleas in the house with it by sprinkling it on furniture, pet beds and pets themselves and its great outdoors too.
Diatomaceous earth is made from fossilized aquatic organisms that had skeletons made of silica. The areas where these organisms accumulated are mined for the silica which is manufactured into diatomaceous earth. It works on insects with exoskeletons because the silica is very finely ground but it has sharp edges. To us it feels like powder but to bugs with exoskeletons, getting shards of silica in the joints is deadly.
DE is a completely natural product. Its non-toxic to fish and birds but I’m still careful when I spread this product in the garden. Spiders, ladybugs and other types of beneficial beetles have exoskeletons so I want to avoid harming them. I appreciate spiders and ladybugs in the garden because they eat aphids and other annoying pests. It’s all about balance!
I purchased this “food grade” DE on-line. I wanted to be sure I was buying the most pure product since it’s going in the garden. It came with this application tool that you squeeze causing DE to puff out the tip. It’s easy to apply the DE this way, or you can use a scoop to simply sprinkle it wherever it needs to go.
I applied it early in the day after the dew had burned off but with plenty of daylight hours left. The food grade product is “non-caking” so it shouldn’t get messy when it gets wet but I wanted enough time on dry plants and soil as possible just to be sure.
I also noticed the cabbage moths have come around again. These little boogers are such a pain. They innocently flutter through the garden so unassumingly but then a couple of weeks later their larvae are chowing down on my kale! They blend in to the kale stems so well I really have to hunt for them. They get squashed on the ground as soon as they’re found but keeping up with their reproduction is a full time job. I decided to cover the kale with netting so the moths can’t get in and lay eggs. Hopefully that will give the kale a little more time to get established so it can fend for itself.
Everything else is looking fine. Here’s a little tomato blossom on one of the heirlooms. It’s so exciting to imagine a big, juicy tomato is on the way!
Beets and green beans
Turnips under the kale
Sugar snap peas
How’s your garden coming along? I’d love to hear how you naturally treat for pests in the garden. Leave me a comment!