Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Old Fashioned Tools

I was yearning for an old fashioned bug sprayer/duster.  At this red hot minute, I'm certain that the best bug killer for the type of critters around my house is diatomaceous earth (DE).  If I had a bug duster, there would be a cloud of this totally non-toxic, even edible, substance around my coreopsis.  At this time of year, little black and orange striped beetles cover the plant and want to chew it to the ground. The DE kills bugs by blocking their air ways.*

1/4 cup and the ball pump.  I operated it just like this with the nozzle
 aimed slightly down into the cup while I pumped away.
It wasn't a uniformly fine cloud, but it got the job done nicely.
So my brain has been twitching for several days to come up with a way to sift this fine powder over my two precious golden coreopsis plants.  The brain that tells me all the Things I get to do today finally found a quick, rather decent duster:  a 1/4 cup measuring cup and an athletic ball pump with the needle removed.  See picture for how it works.

Your local garden store may have a one-pound bag of it for under $10.  However, I went to an organic garden supply warehouse in my area.  They had a 50 lb. bag that had a slit in it, and they were selling it for $15!  Now I have three five-gallon buckets stashed away--enough to smoother every bug in Oregon,  I think.  If you can't find DE in your neighborhood, I'll mail you a pound of it.  Just drop me an email.

One more tip:  soil ants are swarming this time of year.  I've had several areas around my house where the industrious critters were moving their nest/eggs into my house.  I'd pledged not to use chemical poisons, but the various solutions I read on line did nothing over a two-week period to stop the ant train.  One dusting along the ant caravan route with DE and all activity stopped within an hour.  DE also works for flies around chickens. Simply dust the chicken run with DE--I use a fine kitchen sieve.*

*DE is not good in our lungs either.  Wear a mask or make sure you are up wind as you dust.