The Prairie Homestead http://www.theprairiehomestead.com Homesteading | Self Sufficient Living | Living off the Land Wed, 29 Jul 2015 14:39:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.3 Diatomaceous Earth Uses in the Garden http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2015/07/diatomaceous-earth-garden.html http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2015/07/diatomaceous-earth-garden.html#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 14:38:43 +0000 http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/?p=14942 Here I go again… Venturing into another “controversial” subject… I’m such a rebel. Nope, I’m not talking about GMOs, or vaccines, or any of that stuff today. But rather, diatomaceous earth. Whooooooooo…. Crazy, huh? I have such a knack for happening upon controversy in places I’d never expect it. But maybe that’s because we live […]

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uses for diatomaceous earth in the garden as natural pest control

Here I go again…

Venturing into another “controversial” subject… I’m such a rebel.

Nope, I’m not talking about GMOs, or vaccines, or any of that stuff today. But rather, diatomaceous earth.

Whooooooooo…. Crazy, huh? I have such a knack for happening upon controversy in places I’d never expect it. But maybe that’s because we live in the age of the internet and even the slightest, silliest things are controversial these days. (Does anyone else get tired of that? Man oh man, I sure do… But that’s a topic for another day…)

Anyway, back to the diatomaceous earth.

You’ve heard me talk about DE before here on the blog. In fact, one of my most popular posts ever goes into all the details of using diatomaceous earth around your home and for your health.

However, even though there are all sorts of diatomaceous earth uses in your home and medicine cabinet, I actually use it outside my home, more than inside.

I sprinkle it in my chicken coop to cut down on flies, use it on my barn floor, and occasionally dust my garden with it as well. And since I’ve received tons of questions about using diatomaceous earth in the garden, that’s what we’re diving into today.

But first, a little background.

uses for diatomaceous earth in the garden as natural pest control

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

Diatomaceous earth is a ultra-fine white powder made from the fossilized remains of algae-like plants  (aka diatoms).

There are a lot of different health claims attached to DE, but I personally am most interested in the pest control aspects of the stuff.

Diatomaceous earth purportedly works as effective, natural pest control as the fine powder is razor-sharp on a microscopic level. It slices into the exoskeleton and dries the insect out. Because it works from a mechanical standpoint, versus a chemical one, you don’t have to worry about insects developing a resistance, or spraying toxic pesticides on your plants. Which is why a lot of naturally-minded folks are fans of the stuff.

Diatomaceous Earth Safety

As soon as I even whisper the word “diatomaceous” online, I get pounded with emails and comments from people loudly proclaiming the “dangers” of DE. So I’m going to beat y’all to it today. 😉

Yes, there are some considerations to take into account when handling DE. Do I think it makes diatomaceous earth something to be afraid of? Nope. But do use common sense, and follow these guidelines:

  • Always, always make sure you’re using food-grade diatomaceous earth, not the stuff designed for swimming pools.
  • DE is a ultra-fine powder, which means it’s not great for your lungs. So avoid breathing the dust, or wear a mask when you apply it.
  • DE is drying, and while it won’t cut your skin like it will an exoskeleton, it does feel funky if you get a lot of it on your hands. Feel free to wear gloves when you use it.

uses for diatomaceous earth in the garden as natural pest control

Diatomaceous Earth in the Garden

As you know, I’ve been locked in battle to save my veggies from hungry insects this year. I’ve been using my DIY Organic Pest Control Garden Spray recipe on the veggies getting hit the worst, and also sprinkling on some DE as needed. Which sparked an interesting conversation on my Facebook page the other day.

Diatomaceous Earth and Bees

Recently, it’s been brought to my attention that many folks are concerned about using diatomaceous earth in their garden because of the effect it may have on beneficial insects, especially bees.

As many of you know, the bee population is declining, which is a very serious problem. I wouldn’t want to do anything to add to this issue, so I decided to investigate further. Here’s the issue with bees and DE (in a nutshell):

1. You sprinkle DE all over your garden like crazy.

2. Bees come visit your garden to pollinate the flowering plants.

3. Bees land in the DE. Bees try to groom the DE powder from their legs.

4. Bees die = not good.

This has caused a number of gardeners to become very much against any use of diatomaceous earth at all. Nada. Zero. Zilch. However, I prefer a balanced approach of looking at issues, so I decided to investigate further.

After talking to a local beekeeper, and reading a number of perspectives, it seems as though the importance lies in how we apply DE, versus the notion that simply DE on the premises is inherently bad.

I have decided to follow these strategies for continuing to use diatomaceous earth in my garden, while keeping the bees in mind at the same time.

  • Apply DE sparingly, and only to plants that are seriously effected by insects. For me, that’d be my poor beets this year. They are being eaten down to nothing…
  • Apply DE in the early morning, or late evening, when bees are less likely to be out.
  • Apply DE close to the ground, where bees are less-likely to land.
  • Do not apply DE to flowering plants where the bees would be landing to pollinate.
  • Apply DE on non-windy days to avoid it being spread over the entire garden.

Do I still think using DE is better than chemical pesticides. YES. Just only use it where you need it and use it with discretion.

How I use Diatomaceous Earth in the Garden:

1. DE is easiest to apply if it’s in a shaker container of sorts. If you only need to use a small amount, you can repurpose an old spice shaker. I needed a larger amount, so I poked holes in the lid of an old plastic coffee can.

uses for diatomaceous earth in the garden as natural pest control

2. Sprinkle DE on the plants being eaten by insects. Follow the considerations for bees above. Only use DE on the plants in your garden that need it. Don’t dust it all over everything.

3. Reapply after heavy rain, or watering.

Does it work?

It sure seems to– at least for me. I have noticed a decrease in insect problems after applying. The main disadvantage to DE is that you must continually reapply it, so it can be a bit of a chore. But if you are consistent, I do think it can be an effective garden pest control method which does not rely on harmful pesticides.

uses for diatomaceous earth in the garden as natural pest control

Let’s Sum it Up:

  • Don’t stick your head in a bag of DE and huff it. Your lungs will not be happy.
  • Don’t jump into a tub of DE and rub it all over your skin. Unless you want to feel dry and crusty.
  • Don’t go crazy and dust DE all over your garden. Respect the bees and allow them to do their job.
  • Don’t use DE if you don’t want to. Seriously. If you’d rather not use DE in your garden, that doesn’t bother me a bit. You can opt for a natural, homemade garden pest control spray instead, pick the bugs off by hand, or just buy veggies from the Farmer’s Market. Any of those options are just fine by me.

uses for diatomaceous earth in the garden as natural pest control

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Homemade Herb Salt Recipe http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2015/07/homemade-herb-salt-recipe.html http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2015/07/homemade-herb-salt-recipe.html#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 13:00:13 +0000 http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/?p=14886 Nothing, and I mean NOTHING… Compares to the flavors of fresh herbs picked footsteps from your door. This morning I tip-toed out on my front deck to pick fresh sage leaves for the pork chop recipe I was putting in the crockpot, and momentarily mourned the fact I can’t enjoy those flavors all year long… The […]

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homemade herb salt recipe

Nothing, and I mean NOTHING…

Compares to the flavors of fresh herbs picked footsteps from your door. This morning I tip-toed out on my front deck to pick fresh sage leaves for the pork chop recipe I was putting in the crockpot, and momentarily mourned the fact I can’t enjoy those flavors all year long…

The first thing I’m doing once our home addition project is complete is setting up some windowsill herb gardens so we have fresh herbs all year long. (Previously, my south-facing windows have not been conducive to growing stuff…)

Herbs seem to either be feast or famine. I either have an obscene amount of fresh parsley, or none all all. There are plenty of different ways to preserve fresh herbs for later, but I recently stumbled upon a technique I hadn’t previously used (I know, I must live under a rock, huh?)

homemade herb salt recipe

Preserving herbs in salt is an old method that works beautifully for two reasons:

a) it’s fast and easy

b) it’s delicious

What more do you need? Although I’ll still probably dry my herbs or save them in oil, this is officially my new favorite way to preserve herbs.

homemade herb salt recipe

The Best Herbs for Herb Salt

Honestly? Anything will work. My herb salt is pretty heavy on the parsley, because I have parsley coming out my ears, but I also toss in handfuls of whatever else I have growing. Just think about the herbs you like to eat together, and make your custom herb salt blends according to what your palate prefers. Here are a few good options, but the sky’s the limit:

  • Parsley
  • Dill
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Cilantro
  • Rosemary
  • Basil

homemade herb salt recipe

Homemade Herb Salt Recipe

  • 3 loosely-packed cups of fresh herbs of your choice (see list above)
  • 1/2 cup coarse salt

Wash the herbs and remove coarse stems and any discolored leaves. Dry thoroughly.

Place the herbs and salt in a food processor and pulse until you have a coarse grind. Be careful not to make a paste or puree, though.

homemade herb salt recipe

Don’t want to use a food processor? No worries. Simply grab your knife and cutting board and go crazy. Coarsely chop the leaves, then add the salt on top and continue to chop the salt/herbs together until you have a coarse, uniform mixture.

Place the herb mixture in a glass jar, and place in the fridge for 7-14 days to let the flavors meld. Give it a shake every day or so.

Store in the fridge. The salt in this recipe acts as a preservative, so your herbs should last 6 months, or even longer.

Use your homemade herb salt in any recipes that would benefit from an extra punch. Obviously, it is very salty, so I would start by using it 1:1 for the salt in your recipes. Rub it on roasts, sprinkle it in stews, slather it on your chickens before roasting them… You get the idea!

homemade herb salt recipe

Homemade Herb Salt Recipe Notes:

  • Use coarse sea salt, kosher salt, or canning/pickling salt for this recipe. This is the coarse sea salt I love (affiliate link).
  • There are many different techniques to make homemade herb salt. Some folks layer whole herbs in salt, some folks dry the mixture before jarring it, etc. I like this method because it’s fast and easy, but feel free to experiment.

5.0 from 7 reviews
Homemade Herb Salt Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: Seasoning
 
Ingredients
  • 3 loosely-packed cups of fresh herbs of your choice. Parsely, oregano, basil, mint, cilantro, thyme, rosemary, and/or dill are all great choice.
  • ½ cup coarse salt
Instructions
  1. Wash the herbs and remove coarse stems and any discolored leaves. Dry thoroughly.
  2. Place the herbs and salt in a food processor and pulse until you have a coarse grind. Be careful not to make a paste or puree, though.
  3. Don't want to use a food processor? No worries. Simply grab your knife and cutting board and go crazy. Coarsely chop the leaves, then add the salt on top and continue to chop the salt/herbs together until you have a coarse, uniform mixture.
  4. Place the herb mixture in a glass jar, and place in the fridge for 7-14 days to let the flavors meld. Give it a shake every day or so.
  5. The salt in this recipe acts as a preservative, so your herbs should last 6 months, or even longer.
  6. Use your homemade herb salt in any recipes that would benefit from an extra punch. Rub it on roasts, sprinkle it in stews, slather it on your chickens before roasting them... You get the idea!

 

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Homemade Fly Trap http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2015/07/homemade-fly-trap.html http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2015/07/homemade-fly-trap.html#comments Tue, 21 Jul 2015 19:01:09 +0000 http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/?p=14888 Your mission, if you choose to accept: To fight back against the pests, vegetable-eating insects, and biting bugs on your homestead (or backyard). Rules of Engagement: No pesticides or toxic chemicals allowed. Sound impossible? It’s not. BUT it will take some creativity and good old-fashioned homestead ingenuity. Here are some weapons to add to your arsenal: […]

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homemade fly trap

Your mission, if you choose to accept:

To fight back against the pests, vegetable-eating insects, and biting bugs on your homestead (or backyard).

Rules of Engagement:

  • No pesticides or toxic chemicals allowed.

Sound impossible? It’s not. BUT it will take some creativity and good old-fashioned homestead ingenuity.

Here are some weapons to add to your arsenal:

If you happen to sustain injuries in your battles, there’s always the DIY Bug Bite Relief Stick.

And here’s another heavy-hitter to add to the list: this homemade fly trap made from repurposed trash, so you don’t have to make a trip to the store to buy traps or bait. It doesn’t get much better than that. Let the battle commence!

Homemade Fly Trap

  • Repurposed plastic bottle
  • Water
  • Bait (see below)
  • A drop or two of liquid dish soap (optional)

This is so easy, it barely needs instructions. But just in case you need some extra clarification—>

homemade fly trap

Cut the top of the bottle off. Straight lines are not my forte… Thankfully, my homemade fly trap still works great, thankyouverymuch.

Flip the top over, and stick it back into the bottle’s base to form a funnel. You can glue it or tape it, if you like, but mine nestled in there snugly on its own.

homemade fly trap

Fill the bottom of the container with a bit of water (a couple inches is enough, just leave a gap between the bottom of the “funnel” and the water).

Add some smelly bait, and a drop or two of liquid dish soap. The dish soap clings to the flies wings, and traps them a bit better.

Homemade Fly Trap Bait Options:

Remember: flies like sweet and smelly things. So the sweeter and smellier, the better. You can use anything you have hanging around, but these are my favorite choices:

  • Sugar water or honey water
  • Fruit– especially slightly rotten or overripe fruit. Bananas and strawberries work beautifully.
  • A bit of raw meat, such as a pinch of ground meat, or trimmings from a steak
  • Fresh animal manure
  • Or all of the above (yuck)

And remember– the longer it sits, the better. So don’t hesitate to let it fester and ferment a bit (yuck, again…)

Set your homemade fly trap in a place where the bugs are driving you crazy and you’ll be capturing flies in no time.

Homemade Fly Trap Notes

  • The theory behind this trap is that the flies will be attracted to the scent and fly down the funnel. However, it’s quite difficult for them to figure out how to fly back up the funnel, and in their efforts to escape, they flop into the water… Then they’re toast. And it works!
  • If you want to hang your homemade fly trap, you can punch holes in the sides and hang it up by a bit of string.
  • Two-liter soda bottles are great for this, but any plastic bottle will do. I used an old juice jug—bonus points for having sticky juice residue inside.

homemade fly trap

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DIY Mason Jar Cup with Straw http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2015/07/diy-mason-jar-cup-with-straw.html http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2015/07/diy-mason-jar-cup-with-straw.html#comments Thu, 16 Jul 2015 15:49:57 +0000 http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/?p=14835 Why should you take the time to make DIY mason jar cups? Allow me to present my case: 1) They are easy to throw together 2) They are cheap (price breakdown below) 3) Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, is cooler in a mason jar. Am I right? Of course, you could always buy the pre-made […]

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diy mason jar cups with straw

Why should you take the time to make DIY mason jar cups?

Allow me to present my case:

1) They are easy to throw together

2) They are cheap (price breakdown below)

3) Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, is cooler in a mason jar. Am I right?

diy mason jar cups with straw

Of course, you could always buy the pre-made lid/straw thingies, but it’s just as easy (and cheap) to make them yourself. Here’s the price breakdown:

(this post contains affiliate links)

On Amazon, these pre-made lids and straws sell for $6.21 for a pack of two, plus shipping. Not a bad price, but let’s break down the cost of a DIY mason jar cup with straw:

  • One mason jar lid + ring: $0.45 IF you buy them new, but I recommend repurposing a used ones
  • One rubber grommet: $0.52 at Lowes
  • One paper straw (the paper ones are cute, but you could also use a reusable glass or stainless steel straw, or just a regular plastic one): $0.15

TOTAL: $1.12 (but probably cheaper because I’m betting you already have lids/rings)

See what I mean? Easy peasy.

And when you fill them with fizzy kombucha or homemade honey lemonade, you’ll officially be a DIY homesteading rockstar.

DIY mason jar cups with straw

DIY Mason Jar Cups with Straw

Makes one DIY mason jar cup with straw

  • Pint-sized canning jar
  • Canning jar lid
  • Canning jar ring
  • Rubber grommet (I got mine at Lowes)
  • Straw (paper, glass, plastic, or stainless steel straws will all work)
  • 3/8″ to 1/2″ drill bit, depending on the size of your straw

diy mason jar cups with straw

The size of the rubber grommet you need will depend on the size of your straw. I have some fat glass straws, and I wanted to be sure my lids would work for them, as well as my cute paper straws. Therefore, I used a grommet with an inner diameter of 3/8″ and an outer diameter of 5/8″. We also used a 1/2″ drill bit.

However, this will vary, depending on your straw, so play around a bit.

diy mason jar cups with straw

Drill an offset hole in the canning lid.

diy mason jar cups with straw

There were some raised/jagged edges, so we pounded them down a bit. You could also file them if you wanted. However, don’t be too worried about this, because the grommet will cover a multitude of sins.

diy mason jar cups with straw

Insert the grommet, wash the entire lid assembly thoroughly, and affix to your jar.

Now fill ‘er up and sip away!

diy mason jar cups with straw

Project Notes:

  • Definitely use old canning jar lids for this (you know, the ones where the seal isn’t good for actual canning anymore)
  • You could make DIY mason jar cups with quart-sized jars as well, as long as your straw is long enough.
  • These are perfect for older kids who still benefit from a spill-resistant cup, but aren’t as apt to break glass. My 5-year old thought they were the coolest thing ever.

5.0 from 1 reviews
DIY Mason Jar Cup with Straw
Author: 
Recipe type: DIY
Serves: 1 mason jar cup
 
Ingredients
  • Pint-sized canning jar
  • Canning jar lid
  • Canning jar ring
  • Rubber grommet (I got mine at Lowes)
  • Straw
  • ⅜" to ½" drill bit, depending on the size of your straw
Instructions
  1. The size of the rubber grommet you need will depend on the size of your straw. I have some fat glass straws from Strawesome, and I wanted to be sure my lids would work for them, as well as my cute paper straws. Therefore, I used a grommet with an inner diameter of ⅜", and a ½" drill bit.
  2. However, this will vary, depending on your straw, so play around a bit.
  3. Drill an offset hole in the canning lid.
  4. There were some raised/jagged edges, so we pounded them down a bit. You could also file them if you wanted. However, don't be too worried about this, because the grommet will cover a multitude of sins.
  5. Insert the grommet, wash the entire lid assembly thoroughly, and affix to your jar.
  6. Now fill 'er up and sip away!

DIY mason jar cups with straw

 

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