Author Archives: soil

Garden Tips

Fall Garden Tips by Patricia Byrne

Published in Living Natural First Magazine

I have often encouraged readers to learn how to grow some of their food. Even if you do not have a garden in the spring or summer, you can have a fall garden. You might also consider finding or starting a community garden. We are looking at a time when we should all realize how important it is to have a personal or local garden to which we have access.

Pick a spot that gets at least six hours of direct sunlight. If the garden gets morning sun, it reduces the risk of unwanted fungi and bacteria, because the garden will dry faster from the morning dew. Plant rows should be planted east to west. Plants such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and summer squash should be planted in the area of the garden that gets the most amount of sun. These are warm temperature plants. Plants that require cooler temperatures and are frost tolerant can be planted later, September or early October. Broccoli, cabbage, carrots, lettuce, radishes, and spinach are some of the vegetables that need cooler temperatures.

Success of any garden and the quality of the crop depends on the soil in which it is grown. Instead of tilling the soil, I suggest a raised bed. Just frame an area with cedar or other untreated wood, bricks, cinder blocks, or stones. Allow for a soil depth of about 12 inches. It is important to get a soil that is organically rich. Just in case fall and winter are dry, using product that have Diatomaceous Earth with humates mixed in helps with water retention and insect control. This combination should be added at the rate of 6 to 8% of the total soil mix. Minerals are good to add as well. Mix the soil in a wheelbarrow if you have one, but, if not, it is important that the DE and humates be mixed in very well. The soil needs to be loose enough to drain well. The vegetables grown in the soil mix rich in minerals are more beneficial to you. The multitude of trace minerals our bodies need are almost non-existent in food commercially grown. Commercial fields have been planted every year and the minerals have been stripped from the soil. If it isn’t in the soil, it isn’t in the plants grown in that soil.

Healthy plants also do not attract insects. If you have an issue with insects such as ants, grasshoppers, or any other insect still around from the hot summer, use a safe Diatomaceous Earth Crawling Insect insecticide. This type of insecticide is inexpensive and very safe. If you are doing a raised bed garden or urban balcony/rooftop type, I suggest that a layer of Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth about 1/8 inch thick be put down evenly first. Then put the soil mix in. This will deter ants or other insects that attack from the soil from damaging your garden. This will also help with water retention. DE used in this way is not harmful to earthworms. I have used it in gardens for years and had a good earth worm population. Just make sure you never use the DE sold for filtration in swimming pools. It is milled differently and heated, causing the silica to crystallize. That form of DE is dangerous and should not be used in a garden. It is also ineffective as an insecticide. Buy your DE insecticide labeled for that purpose at a garden center.

Support your local farmers by going to farmers markets that truly sell locally-grown food. Almost everywhere there is a market close to you. Some farmers markets may only one or two days a week. It may cost a little more for some items, but not for most of your vegetables. The point is, if there is ever a disruption of the commercial farmers getting their food to the grocery stores, we need to know there are local growers to feed us. Help keep those growers going by buying from them now. You may be very glad in the future that you did. We do not have control over drought conditions. It is much easier to control the environment on a small garden or small farm than a big commercial farm. Support your local growers. The food has more vitality and is much fresher.72113-9

Insect Control

Insect Control during Droughts by Patricia Byrne

Published in Living Natural First Magazine

Any insect can be controlled by using Diatomaceous Earth insecticide. Diatomaceous Earth insecticides are inexpensive and go a long way. They can be used wet or dry. It is a false statement that once wet it does not work. If used properly, it is very effective. It is important that it is spread evenly over the entire area the bugs are found. They must come in contact with the product. The best way to do this outdoors is using a duster called a Spritzer or a Dustin Mizer for large areas. We suggest a pest pistol for closed in areas and to get into cracks and crevices. To protect a home from insects outside, it is important to dust around window sills, doorways, and doors leading to a crawl space under the house or attic. The crawl space or attic is often forgotten. The openings to the roof can be an avenue for spiders, roaches, and other insects. With a duster you can flood the attic with this type of insecticide and not be concerned with damage to anything in the attic or toxic fumes coming into the house. The same is true for using it in the crawl space under a home. There is no gassing out of fumes into the house. Dusting around the foundation and in the flower beds around the house will help keep ants from coming into the house and cut down on the spider and roach populations that accumulate in that area. Inside the house it is important to dust walls where there may be gaps around pipes under sinks.

CIK web

For very large lawns or crops, Diatomaceous Earth can be mixed with liquids that do not contain excessive amounts of sticky material like molasses. It is commonly mixed in compost tea and sprayed on crops. Hand pump sprayers are used to spray large lawns and trees. Dusting as a dry dust is best when possible. Diatomaceous Earth insecticides are safe for your family and pets. Applying this type of product is very effective in the control of fleas and ticks outdoors or indoors.

If you live in an area where you have horses, chickens, goats, or cows, I would use Diatomaceous Earth insecticides for fleas, mites, ticks, flies, and other insects that plague your animals. This type of insecticide can be sprayed on the walls of barns and outside covered spaces for animals to control the fly populations. You can also dust the animals to protect them from insects that attach to them.

I suggest you feed a “food” or “feed” grade Diatomaceous Earth to your animals as instructed on the label at a rate of 2% of the weight of rations fed per day (replace 2% of the rations with DE). There are many benefits for all animals. It helps sweet feed pour and protects grain from mold. Do not substitute with a DE for pool filtration. It is not effective as an insecticide and will kill any animal that eats it. That type is a larger particle size and has been heated, causing the amorphous silica to become crystalline, which is dangerous if ingested or inhaled. The type used for insecticides or an anti-caking agent feed additive is safe for ingestion and is only a problem for inhalation if you are using it in a tightly enclosed area for a prolonged time, as any dust would be.

What you really Need to Know about DE

What you really Need to Know about Diatomaceous Earth by Patricia Byrne

Published in Living Natural First Magazine

I was once having a conversation with a friend about different types of Diatomaceous Earth deposits. My friend was wondering how deposits of fossilized diatoms, which were formed thousands of years ago, could be only fresh water since the planet was once covered by the seas. It was a good question. The diatoms may have originated in salt water, but the growth and layers were formed in fresh water from rain. According to geologists, these large deposits of fresh water diatomaceous earth are formed under very specific conditions. Each layer of these deposits contains some amount of volcanic ash. There is evidence of growth explosions of fresh water diatoms that follow volcanic eruptions. These eruptions created the exact conditions of pH, temperature, and the presence of other minerals to cause an accelerated rate of growth. Some fresh water deposits have layers hundreds of feet deep between thin layers of volcanic ash. This would indicate the fresh water deposits in the western United States were formed at a time when the volcanoes were very active. The purest of these deposits would appear to be in a lake, not open rivers or the sea, and formed in a very active volcanic time period. This accounts for the high mineral content and low amount of unwanted sediment. This also explains why there is only one diatom species present in these deposits. Diatoms in this environment form very hard fossils, not fragile ones like those formed in salt water deposits where the conditions are so variable and there are multitudes of shapes and species of diatoms.

There are very few people who realize that not all mining operations use the same methods of extracting and milling the diatomaceous earth. The mill size and number of diatom fossils that remain intact during the mining process have a lot to do with the effectiveness that diatomaceous earth has for its many uses. Diatomaceous Earth from the same deposit mined and milled in a way that smashes the diatom fossils, renders it less absorbent or abrasive. Diatomaceous Earth used in swimming pool filtration is a larger mill size and contains large amounts of crystalline silica naturally or created artificially by extreme heat and pressure. This type is not suitable to be used in insecticides or as a feed additive. The pre-crystalline state of silica, amorphous, is the type in the diatomaceous earth used as a feed additive. All soils have some amount of crystalline silica naturally occurring. The FDA has limits for harmful elements that Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth must meet. Perma-Guard Diatomaceous Earth products are always well below those limits.

Diatoms are crucial to the food chain on this planet. While alive they are food for all aquatic life. They produce most of the oxygen on the planet. They are the richest source of silica. Silica is a trace mineral that is critical to cellular function. Mammals, in the wild, drink from natural water sources, which all contain diatoms. Most water we drink is filtered and filled with chemicals containing very few, if any, diatoms. We no longer have the natural source of silica our ancestors had. We still have some in the plants we eat, but is it enough?

Shiny, healthy hair and strong nails or hooves are obvious outward signs of adequate silica intake. Improved cellular functions and healthy tendons and joints are some of the not so obvious. General health improves when this trace mineral is present in adequate levels and is being utilized. As mammals age, the utilization of many minerals lessens and more intake is required. Most minerals have other minerals with which they need to be in balance. Not enough of a mineral can cause a host of dysfunctions. Too much of some, if not in balance with others, can do the same. Silica is one I have never heard of having ill effects, but is known to have many benefits to all life on this planet.

Perma-Guard [and Soil Mender] are the purest Food Grade DE on the market. When you use this anti-caking agent in your feeds, you are assured you are adding a product that is 89% silica, and safe. It should be added at a rate not to exceed 2% of the rations fed. We have found in chickens that .75% is adequate in chicken feed. The same would be true for all bird seed. Two percent is the advisable rate for all other mammals.


Best Dirt Additive

Best Dirt Additive Dallas 2012 – Minerals Plus

Dallas Observer

“So you want to plant some posies in the dirt. Well, may we ask something first? What dirt? Because it makes a big difference, especially in the city, especially in this city, where you can get dirt that’s way too hard, like concrete, or dirt in which previous occupants have poisoned off all the creepy-crawlies you need to make your dirt hospitable for your posies. It never hurts to improve your dirt, and the best dirt-improver we know about is Minerals Plus, made by Soil Mender Products and recommended by organic guru Howard Garrett. It contains three kinds of paramagnetic volcanic rock. We have no idea what that is, but it sounds awesome. It also contains lava sand, granite sand, basalt, rock phosphate, humate and montmorillonite. If you don’t have any montmorillonite in your soil, we don’t even know how you can show yourself in public. Good stuff. Really. Your posies will thank you.”



Pick Your Mulch

This year’s mulch becomes next year’s compost! This means as the mulch decomposes it puts valuable organic matter back into the soil that helps keep it loose which promotes root growth. Mulching also protects soil from erosion, reduces compaction from the impact of heavy rains, and retains moisture reducing the need for frequent watering. Mulch even helps the soil to maintain a more even soil temperature by acting as insulation. It suppresses weed growth and germination and adds a more “finished” look to your garden.

An organic mulch can consist of a variety of materials: Grass clippings, leaves, hay, straw, kitchen scraps, shredded bark, whole bark nuggets, sawdust, shells, woodchips, shredded newspaper, cardboard, wool, or cotton burrs to name a few. When choosing which to use, base your decision on what you’re planting. Straw is a great insulator during colder months, composted cotton burrs provide incredible nutrient value for your soil, and wood mulches add that “finished” look mentioned above. Wood mulches can also be a deterrent for digging animals, like cats, in some cases.

Mulch provides an insulating barrier between the soil and the air. When applied in the summer, the soil will stay cooler and when applied in the winter, mulched soils will not freeze as deeply. This insulation effect tends to keep the soil from warming up as quickly in the spring, but keeps the soil warmer longer into the fall and winter. If applied later into the summer when soil temperatures are at their highest, mulch will help to maintain that warmth even further into the colder seasons. For vegetable and flower gardens, apply mulch after the soil has warmed up in the spring. When adding additional layers of mulch to existing perennial beds, wait until the soil has warmed up completely.

Applying mulch in the late fall before the ground has frozen may attract rodents looking for a warm place to stay! So, be sure to wait unless you enjoy a few extra “pets”. Used to protect plants from snow and ice during winter, mulch should be a loose material, like straw, hay, or pine boughs. These materials help keep your soil and plants warm without compacting under the weight of the snow and ice!

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