Diatomaceous earth, or DE, isn't really earth at all. DE is actually the sedimentary rock formed by countless fossilized diatoms, a crusty little algae.
You can find food grade diatomaceous earth at many garden and feed stores. It can be used to kill pests, dust chickens, or clean your teeth!
Diatomaceous earth is very tiny and it has sharp edges. The edges are too small to hurt humans or chickens, but hard-bodied insects breath through their exoskeleton and DE blocks the insects’ breathing holes. Diatomaceous earth can be used as an insecticide against flea beetles, slugs and snails, mites, aphids, earwigs, and thrips, just to name a few.
You can dust around your house and garden to reduce the number of crawling insects that may be infesting your house or attacking your garden plants. Many grains that you buy in the grocery store contain small amounts of diatomaceous earth, to prevent insects from eating all the grain before you do.
It’s naturally abrasive character makes it an excellent choice as a toothpaste additive and pot scrubber. Chickens love to take dust baths in the stuff, as it helps remove dander, insects, and skin oils.
If you decide to use diatomaceous earth in your garden (or your henhouse), be sure to follow the directions on the package. You should really wear a dust mask and gloves. Use it very sparingly.
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!