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Hi Growing Club,

This morning I am getting ready to move my starter plants into our raised bed (3′ x 5′) and what do I find? Termites! AGAIN! When we first built the bed last year and put the soil in they emerged in a swarm after a good spring rain. I think the might have come in with the soil. We bought local topsoil with local river silt compost and I think they might have been in the broken tree pieces. ANYWAY….. I want them gone. I am thinking diatomaceous earth (food grade of course) but wanted to hear your thoughts. And if you think I am heading in the right direction how much for our raised bed? I am in Virginia, zone 7.

Thank you in advance!

Jo Anne

Answer

Hi Jo Anne,

Oh that doesn’t sound too pleasant. We are actually quite unfamiliar with termites here in Southern California, since I believe they prefer moist soil (something we are generally lacking). One easy solution to your problem, however, is to make your raised beds out of something other than wood. Wooden raised beds have their uses in certain cases, but in general, there are plenty of other better materials to make beds out of. You could try using stones, bricks, broken concrete, or any other non-degrading material (just don’t use plastic). These materials are usually available for free on Craigslist and you can make much prettier shaped beds out of them (not just square). You can also just leave your bed unlined and that’s perfectly fine.

Also, I wouldn’t use Diatomaceous Earth (DE) in the soil. DE is a general purpose pesticide and would probably have a damaging effect on both the termites and the beneficial organisms and microorganisms in your soil.

Hope that helps! Good luck!

Rishi