After pulling some weeds this morning, I sprinkled some diatomaceous earth onto some of the cucumber and zucchini plants around the base to kill off a swarm of cucumber beetles. Diatomaceous earth (or D.E.) is a white powder made up of fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae. It is a great, natural alternative to pesticides because the diatomaceous earth will cut up and essentially dry out insects that are crawling all over your plants without harming the plants, or yourself.
Of course, since it comes as a powder, you need to be careful not to inhale it and you also need to be sure to purchase the food-grade type for your garden instead of the pool-grade treated type. But so far my plants seem to appreciate the extra help warding off hungry insects. I am always especially careful not to sprinkle the diatomaceous earth on any blooms or water collection spots that honey bees may land on. Unlike pesticides, diatomaceous earth won’t transfer and kill off a whole hive if carried back, but it is still nice to keep it off of blossoms and flower heads that the bees like.
Aside from a little white powder, isn’t the garden looking great? I have been having trouble getting a few things to come up and I think I’ll need some fresh seeds (collected and ordered) for next spring. We have had some odd weather this year… a mild winter and hot spring is probably confusing everything. Hopefully I can get that greenhouse built this fall and extend our short growing season.