March 14, 2013

Diatomaceous Earth

Articles by Dr. Erdman are for informational purposes, and are not to be taken as specific medical advice.

Since we are (hopefully) coming into spring soon, my thoughts are turned to starting the garden. Over the last several years, I’ve tripled the size of my garden to grow a sizeable portion of our fresh produce. One of the challenges of every gardener is pest control. The big pests, like groundhogs, are easy to take care of – just shoot ‘em. It's the little munchers that are the problem. I really don't like using pesticides and chemicals at all, so I don't. I have found one chemical-free, nontoxic, edible product to use in controlling most insects, bugs, and worms. It is called Diatomaceous Earth, or DE.

Diatomaceous Earth is naturally occurring rock formed from the skeletons of fossilized diatoms, an alga. This rock is ground into a fine white powder. DE has many uses other than in the garden; more on that later. “Food Grade” DE must be purchased. I ordered mine from the local feed mill in Mifflinburg.  It came in a 40lb bag, which I’ve been using for 3 years, and it cost around $30 at the time.  I just found out that Harry’s repair and Garden center in Hartleton has it in 4lb. bags for about $10.   In the garden, DE works mechanically to destroy pests. The fine powder is as sharp as glass to these pests. It literally cuts through their exoskeletons, desiccating (drying) them to death. DE is a drying agent; it absorbs any moisture. It is very irritating to the eyes, and if you reach into it with your hand, it almost feels like chalk. DE will kill beneficial insects as well, so you must time your applications around when certain plants are being pollinated. For example, you don’t put DE on flowering tomato, potato or strawberry plants. You can use it before and after flowering cycles, and even on the ground around flowering vegetables during pollinations, just not on them directly, or you will harm bees doing their job.

I sprinkle a heavy trail around my entire garden to start the year. It needs refreshed frequently due to rain washing it away. Any time I see any unwanted pest activity, I sprinkle DE around the bottom of the plants and dust the leaves when they are moist (to hold the DE powder better). I bought a large duster and a small squeeze duster, using each for appropriately sized areas. You will be excited when you see how well this stuff works at debugging your garden.

You can also use DE around the house. I dust the eaves of the basement to keep out spiders and creepy crawlies the wife doesn’t like! You can put it outside around the perimeter of the house, too. If ants are invading your stone patio, dump it on them – they’ll move somewhere else. Avoid flowers on plants because the bees are needed there, too. You can put it in garbage cans to keep flies away and odors under control. If you have a flea problem, you could actually sprinkle the whole yard, like using lime, and it will help control them, too.

Dusting your pets’ bed controls fleas and ticks. You can even put it directly on your pets for fleas, just be careful not to get it in their eyes or let them breathe a lot of the dust. Add it to kitty litter, chicken coops, nesting boxes and barn stalls to keep your pets pest-free.

And best of all, you should eat it! I do, every morning, with my whey protein, raw egg, raw milk and organic coconut oil shake. Why? Well, two reasons come to mind: detoxifying and destroying pathogens.

DE detoxifies mercury, cadmium, lead and other heavy metals and removes poisons from chemtrails and radiation particles. DE has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. It also kills parasites in you and your pets’ intestinal tracts. In addition, DE helps to lower blood pressure and contributes to the production of collagen, which improves skin tone and strengthens tendons and joints. It is a good source of silica, essential for hair and nail growth. Since I’ve been taking DE orally, my nails grow at a ridiculous rate, noticeably faster than before.

To consume DE orally, start with half a teaspoon and go up to 2 tablespoons over time. Always drink a lot of liquid, as DE is a drying agent and can cause constipation if you don’t.

Just remember, always buy food grade DE (not the stuff for pools) and be careful not to inhale a lot of it or get it in your eyes. Other than that, it is safe to use just about anywhere else. Try it this summer as a safer alternative to chemical sprays around the house.