If you did not prepare your flower beds or vegetable garden in February, now is the time to do it. If you have not been adding compost or soil amendments to your beds, you might need to do a complete do over. Putting insecticides on the area around the garden to deter ants and other insects that live in the soil is one of your first steps. Diatomaceous earth insecticides are a safe deterrent. It is important to use a food grade amorphous silica freshwater type of diatomaceous earth insecticide. Never use Diatomaceous earth produced for use in filtration or swimming pools. That type has been heated and the amorphous silica has been heated to create crystalline silica and larger particle sizes that are dangerous to breath and are useless as an insecticide.

Food Grade diatomaceous earth can be added to the soil when mixing in your amendments to assist plants in drought resistance and insect resistance. DE high in amorphous silica content increases the mineral uptake by the roots of the plants. The plants are healthier and pass those minerals on to you when you eat them. Remember if you have been planting in the same soil year after year without amending it with compost or minerals then you must do that now to continue to produce a healthy yield of vegetables worth eating. The same is true for flowers and lawns. Don’t waste your water on grass or flowers that don’t have enough nutrition in the soil to produce and look nice. In fact, you will need less water if you amend your soil for the type plants you wish to plant.

Earth worms are very beneficial to the soil and your plants. They mix nutrients and aerate the soil. Diatomaceous earth mixed into the soil is not harmful to earth worms. They thrive in soil with DE. Earth worm producers add it to the soil of their worm beds. Silica makes minerals more available in soil. Earth worms produce rich worm castings which improves microbial health of the soil.

Texas March weather is expected to swing from 6 to 7 degrees below normal to 3 to 5 degrees above normal. There should be some rain but not a lot. If you did not plant your garden in February you should plant the first week of March if you can. Texas has a short spring so cool season vegetables need time to produce before the weather gets too hot. If you want lettuce, Swiss chards and broccoli you should plans as soon as possible. The soil should be warm enough to plant okra, beans, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers now, depending on what part of Texas you are in. There will still be a late freeze possibility and you need to be prepared to cover your tomatoes and new leafy above ground plants.

Fire ants and crazy ants are quite a problem in Texas. There are Diatomaceous earth insecticides that are formulated with other natural ingredients that are stronger. Folks from all over Texas have had great success with for formulated DE products. These are best when you

have an infestation of ants, fleas or roaches. If you live in an area that commonly has fleas I would spread the DE on the lawn now. You can also use the Crawling Insect Control DE products on your pets to protect them. I never use a flea collar or the flea drops or any other flea control on my dog. I dust her after she has a bath. She travels with me and stops in many different fields along the way and never gets fleas. Scorpions have been an issue in south central Texas the last few years. I have been told by many people that non formulated DE alleviated their invasion of scorpions. 

by Patricia Byrne