Disclaimer: This post does contains photos of and mentions Cannabis plants, this is because a plant is a plant and it is legal to grow on some regions. This recipe is non plant specific and should work without harm to any plant.
Most people these days have a least heard of Diatamouse earth and may have even used it both knowingly or unknowingly, for those who have they can attest to the one downside it has, application.
The shit is messy and can be hard to apply in its powder state
I have a hack for you that will change your DE using life. Less mess and fuss
DE comes in many forms, myself I prefer the GiaGreen bulk 4kg, 8.8lb bag its just the cheapest way to buy it and it lasts me a long time for all my particular uses.
I use it for a few different applications like mixing in with my soil pots to provide my plants with silica for bigger fatter stems drought resistance, protection against pests and viruses (internally in the plant itself) I also use it for killing and preventing pests like mites, aphids, caterpillars, ants, spiders, whitefly, SLUGS / SNALES and many more essentially any insect built low or probe to sitting, resting nesting etc.
For the record: I F#$#@# despise Slugs and snails
The damage they do in such a short period of time then seemingly disappear. This spring on one Kale seedling alone I removed 8 of them and more were on the way . They can wipe out a seedling overnight, they demolish seedlings and later in the year lettice, kale, beet tops, chard, and any other leafy green leaving only the rib like framework of the leaves and nothing else.
The big banana slugs will go for the stem and kill a seedling in one feeding the plants never recover so……. DE is my favorite gift for those slimy little buggers.
I’ve also come up with a great slug spray that if you can see them puts them down immediately without having to carry salt or place sluggo traps around the garden. The beer method is still top of the heap best of the best for trap style mollusc control but a multi phase approach is always the best route. I will post that at a later date so check back.
If its low or crawls DE makes for really bad days for pests.
Full Disclosure: it is also like a trap or bait it is non selective on what it kills so this means you may harm beneficial insects, worms etc that come into contact with it. That said if its in the spoil and the soil remains wet or damp it has a lesser effect than those you target above ground.
You will see DE everywhere notably for our purposes here today are off the shelf, RTU, Domestic, pesticides that claim to control a myriad of pests like the ones I listed above but the list is usually longer.
If you have ever checked out the label on said products you may have seen DE is the main ingredient its also the only ingredient and for legal purposes manufacturers of pest controlling/killing products MUST list all the ingredients active or otherwise. Its often seen on these labels in the “active ingredients” portion of the label as silicon dioxide.
That’s it nothing else in the container yet most people pay huge for the little containers with the picture of a NO sign over a collage of critters one of which is probably the one giving you trouble.
They could take a little drive and buy a lifetime supply 4 kg (8.8 lbs) for around $25
Ok so we know it works we know you can save huge buying bulk. We know its effective enough to be used stand alone in high end pesticide products. That said most of those RTU products used to come with the added kick of diazinon before those and similar nasty poisons were banned.
DE is one of the most effective non toxic to anything products on the market today, If you do not know DE is made from fossilized critters who’s shells are made from silicon dioxide and are RAZOR Sharp.
Insects crawl over it and the cutting edge and spikes on these shells cut the underside of the creepy crawlies, because pests are not well liked they cannot just head off to the hospital and get patched up so they lose moisture through these cuts and the longer they remain onsite the worse it gets eventually dying,
Their offspring suffer the same fate and because the action is mechanical and not chemical there is ZERO possibility of building a tolerance.
One of the biggest flaws in DE as a pesticide is that it is almost useless when wet, it works really only when its dry you might get some results but not as much as when its dry. but that’s ok because water evaporites and DE does not stop being effective because it got wet, as soon as it dries its effective again forever or until it’s banged around enough and becomes dull like beach sand.
This is where this information becomes critical, because were going to mix the DE with water and put it in a pump sprayer. when you dilute DE and its wet it becomes extremely easy to apply on the plants or area you need it to be, then once the water evaporites all that’s left is a thin DE residue that screws up the critters day.
Its critical to use a pump sprayer as trigger sprayers may clog up the trigger action and render the sprayer useless..!
Mix 5 to 6 heaping tablespoons (Ive also gone much higher like 1cup per liter +)and a few drops regular non peroxide non bleach dish soap (dawn works great) into a liter of regular water put in a pump sprayer and shake the bejeezus out of it until you see all the DE dissolved into solution. pump it up and spray the plants top and underside of the leaves I personally try to avoid flowers just to play it safe and not further harm the honey bees, their work is dangerous enough and while the odds of harming one is small I do not risk it.
5 to 6 heaping tablespoons (up to 1 cup) Diatomaceous earth
1 liter cold water
Fulvic acid (optional)
Solo pump sprayer (any good sprayer will work)
3 to 5 drops dawn dish soap, (or other no bleach type soap)
The soap works as a surfactant allowing easier full coverage of the surface area.
Mix well so there are no clumps, spray the plants you wish to protect / cure
making sure you get both under and on the top of the leaves.
Im saying 5 to 6 heaping tablespoons of DE but I have gone up to half a cup ( 1 + cup) and well over with no ill effects start small and work up as needed.
Fulvic acid: Fulvic is optional but it is worth using its is a natural chelating agent I believe whatever DE that could be adsorbed by the leaves will enter easier if you use Fulvic.
I fill my pump sprayer up[ to the desired level then remove the water I plan to use to premix with the DE in the measuring cup. I do this so I do not overfill the sprayer but if your like math etc you can do it however you wish.
Do not tamp down the DE whgen baking one often puts flour in the measuring cup then taps the cuyp on the counter so the flour compacts giving a more accurate measurement. Do not do that with the DE the measurement is not as important than avoiding lumps
Once dry it will stay in place and even remain after spraying with water or rain, but dulls with each subsequent spray until its completely washed off.
When you apply this mix you won’t immediately see results, at best the plant leaves will just look wet, but after it dries you will see the coat of armor you just applied.
Spray until the leaves are moist but not beading up and running off that’s just a waste so try to avoid it. thats it now you walk away and let the sun do its work when it has and all the water is evaporated all your left with is a DE residue off white looking almost like powdery mildew, but beneficial.
PRO TIP: be sure to remember you applied it as if you happen across drips later on you may actually think its Powdery Mildew and start on a regime to cure it, needlessly (seriously it happens)
While not as instantly gratifying as a toxic product, trust me it is dam effective and you will see results. Best of all you see results without harming beneficial insects, birds etc.
Spraying on DE is most effective on cabbage as it really covers the leaves as well as running down into the areas other products and application methods cannot and do not reach. Its one of the better methods used to fight things like cabbage worms / moths etc
You can really get into the nooks and crannies because of the nature of the spray application