Diatomaceous Earth and Living Soil

Has anyone used diatomaceous earth in a living soil set up? I want to set up another barrier for aphid and fungus gnat control, but I’m worried about disrupting my beneficials (worms, ladybugs, lacewings).

Thanks in advance!

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I tried it many times throughout the years… it never worked well or the way people assume for keeping bugs away.

That being said I never noticed any negative effects for my soil and I always made sure it was living and had mycos!


I have a living soil setup and hugelkulture beds. They work really well. Alot of work to keep them up.


Thanks! Yeah, I think people don’t realize you need about a full centimeter on top of the soil to really obstruct the life cycle. I think when applied properly it can really help- with aphids at least.


I use my spent w1 and quicksand DE from @Waxplug1

Not sure if its been effective

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Woah I’m surrounded by permaculture-types and I haven’t seen this before. I won’t ever replace growing in a cloth pot outside with this method, but holy shit the vegetables and fruit trees would be great in certain circumstances.

Thanks for the rabbithole.

Edit: I want to add that DE is great for borders of the garden: Walls, rafters, tops of lights, the floor, edges of tables, and every other nook and cranny. This is usually accomplished by using a shopvac filled with DE (no filter) with the hose in the exhaust port. You dry spray the room with DE before each round of plants (after cleaning and allowing the environment to dry for a few hours or a day if you can spare it (nobody can…).


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That is really unhealthy to be in a room with that much air .movement and de dust. That would probably lead to health issues???

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Full face mask and disposable coveralls when working with DE, perlite, etc.

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The whole three months you’re on a room?


Yea but the room is covered in dust and de particles that saturate the air with movement from time to time. De has market dust issues.

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It’s an indoor garden. Fans, HVAC, gardeners using filtered shopvacs. It’s really quite clean. Y’all have seen the garden pics.

Hi Natesaysdoless, we work in the wine industry as well as this one and for a period of time some wineries opted to put there spent DE in the vineyard as a way of getting of rid of it. In some wine counties you have to haul the spent DE away which is expensive. They stopped doing this because as you point out, it interrupts the beneficial worms, ladybugs etc. Especially the worms. DE is very abrasive and literally cuts the worms up. They all died off so they went back to hauling the DE away.



Thanks for this info- this is exactly what I needed (and exactly what I was worried about…)


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You have to invest in it with time. I cut down and used a bunch of dead logs. Approx 16 trees I think I cut up into 20-24" logs and lined the beds with them. It uses half the soil on top and the roots dig into the decomposing logs and the plants are very healthy. If you want to grow the nharliest buds, fruits, or vegitables you want to use hugelkulture methods. If the box doesn’t have dead logs in it it’s not thriving. Especially the worm food the logs act as is insane. Every several years you do have to remove the soil and replace the logs so there’s that fucking nightmare task everyone avoids and the beds just turn to soil eventually.


DE won’t harm your worms and actually helps condition soil and improve moisture retention. In living soil it also acts as a time released form of silica and calcium and magnesium.

I use it as a barrier around my perimeter. I don’t like how dusty it is and I’ve heard it really can mess up your lungs since it’s similar to glass particles, but I just be careful not to disturb it and it doesn’t pose any threat that way.

As a repellant the stuff is very effective. If a crawling insect happens into to venture into my layers they get frozen and just can’t move. It’s pretty crazy to watch.

I haven’t seen anything negative in the last 5 years of using living soil/ notill methods.


Top dress with neem meal and water in, works a lot better. Top dress about every other week