Miracle Gro

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Someone suggested this information be posted in this forum since many new gardeners don't really know organic from conventional and are unsure about MG.

From Organic Gardening magazine, July/August 2000

Miracle-Gro is a synthetic fertilizer that contains ammonium phosphate and several other chemicals that can be toxic to your soil and plants.

It is prohibited from use in certified-organic farming.

Hereís what soil expert Robert Parnes, Ph.D., says in his book Fertile Soil: [Ammonium fertilizer] acidifies the soil, and thus it is probably more harmful to soil organisms than any other nitrogen fertilizer. The application has to be timed carefully and placed properly to avoid burning the leaves and roots.

In addition, ammonium tends to inhibit the release of potassium. Ammonium fertilizers are deliberately manufactured to be spread at high application rates in order to obtain maximum yields with no regard to adverse effects on the soil.

Probably nowhere is the conflict between the mass production of food to feed the world and the preservation of the soil more obvious than in the confrontation over the use of either ammonium fertilizers or liquid ammonia.

And thereís more: long-term studies at the University of Wisconsin have shown that acidic chemical fertilizers are causing serious, permanent damage to our soils. Usually these fertilizers are also highly soluble, so they leach away and pollute our water systems, too.

Soil fertility authority Garn Wallace, Ph.D., of Wallace Laboratories in El Segundo, California, points out that Miracle-Gro contains muriate of potash, which contains excess chlorine that will burn plants and inhibit the uptake of nitrogen.

Dr. Wallace also warns that products such as Miracle-Gro often contain unsafe levels of zinc and copper that will be toxic to soil life.

And if all thatís not enough to convince you to avoid this stuff, consider this: you have to mix Miracle-Gro with water and apply it ever "7 to 14 days."

If you opt to fertilize organically, on the other hand, all you have to do is mix a Ĺ-inch layer of grass clippings into your beds before each crop. As the grass decomposes, it will improve your soilís texture and stimulate microbial life and help prevent disease, all while releasing plenty of nutrients to feed your plants.

(For full details on organic fertilizers, see How to Fertilize Your Garden, Organic Gardening, July/August 2000.)
--KATHY BAUMGARTNER, Fremont, Michigan

"Real Gardeners Grow Without Miracles!"

Fritch, TX(Zone 6b)

WHO KNEW??? -- Thanks for the great info Darius


Knoxville, TN(Zone 7a)

I started out like a lot of folks using Miracle Gro as it was easy and resulted in plants with lots of blooms. However, since going more organic, I have big, healthy plants with lots of blooms. And I are really starting to see a big improvement in the soil in my beds - - looser, darker and full of earthworms. Plus for my plants in containers, I do not have the problem with salt buildup that I used to struggle with.

I used to think of organic gardening as a trendy thing that would require a lot more effort. Instead, I am finding that my efforts are more long lasting and that my plants appear to be much healthier.

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

I read a quote somewhere - if you focus on taking care of your soil, your soil will take care of your plants...

Franklin, NC(Zone 6b)

It looks like Late Blight is hitting us pretty hard in NC. Appalachian Seeds in Flat Rock was going to have some tomato tastings next week, but he's just about lost his crop to it, even with judicious sprays of copper and Serenade (a competitive Bacillus). I've slowed it down a bit in my garden by spraying with milk, but a local grower says that he was having better success with compost tea.

I found a cool link showing Late Blight on the fruit. If you have Quick Time on your machine, you can click and drag the cursor over the picture to get a 3-D view of the symptoms.


So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Yeah, mine here in Hayesville are suffering too.

Winchester, VA(Zone 6b)

here it is hard to find anything else but MG - all other choices are slowly disappearing. - even the potting soil has MG in it

back to the compost pile

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Try alfalfa meal tea, fish emulsion and liquid kelp.

Knoxville, TN(Zone 7a)

And manure - - cow and chicken.

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

I have to agree with roxroe...up until this year I could buy plain seed starting mix at the "big box" stores. This year I had to drive across town to a local specialty garden center and pay a 33% premium ($9 a bag last year vs. $12.99 now) to buy seed starting mix that didn't contain water-soluble fertilizer.

Sigh. I guess I'm going to have to start making my own, assuming I can find vermiculite. (Perlite and peat are still pretty easy to come by from any garden center.)

Port Lavaca, TX(Zone 9a)

Is the alfalfa meal tea, fish emulsion and liquid kelp what you use to fertilize with? How do you make the tea and how and when do you use the items? Do you mix them together? I'm beginning to mend my ways but don't know enough to decide what to do. I'll appreciate any info or web site.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

barbur, yes, that's my fertilizer. If you look under the tab above for Garden Terms and do a search, you should find what I posted for those items. I'm in the throes of moving for the next 2-3 weeks and very short of time, or I'd post them here myself.

Port Lavaca, TX(Zone 9a)

Darius, I found it, thanks. Good luck on the moving.

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

Roxroe and Terry, look for coir rather than peat moss. I've been using it in a starter mix for a couple of years now and have had good results. Peat moss has been overharvested in many areas which may account for cost increases and some questions re quality. Coir is processed from the rough exterior of coconuts. The mix I'm using is from a company in Indiana and I ordered from Gurney's. Mixed half with potting soil it has done wonders for houseplants. This brand is a tad pricey, so I'm shopping to see if I can make my own - thus far I've located several online sources and am putting out inquiries locally.
Zone 8b - Heat zone 9

Burlington, MA(Zone 6a)

What about LIME? Is it organic approved? Never mind answer is: pH Adjusting
Organic Soil Amendments it was on the bag.

This message was edited Oct 24, 2004 1:42 AM

Burlington, MA(Zone 6a)

Careful with "green" grass clippings. They can burn crops. It is better to mix them in a compost of soil and then apply them after a few weeks. I like adding leaves too as it really genrates the micro organisms and attracts worms. I lime my new compost at winter time as the worms go deep so I don't worry if too much lime is used, I won't hurt the worms during that time. Just watch the PH levels as it is nice to keep them between 5.0 and 6.5 for most organic veg. gardens.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Bumping by request.

Richmond, VA(Zone 7a)

thank you, real good info in here. I too remember when it was easy to get a good potting mix without chemicals in and how one year it suddenly became a very rare item!

Agree with Terry 's post, take care of the soil and the soil takes care of the plants. "Healthy" looking plants on chemical ground are kinda like "healthy" looking athletes on steroids, IMO. Nourishment is key, not big fat stuff going on, lol!

Houston, TX

I found some stuff that seems to make the plants really happy. I don't know if it counts as officially organic or not, but since I'm not trying to get certified, I don't worry about it so much. I just want to take care of the soil in my beds.

My Home Depot sells some stuff called MooNure. It's cow manure mixed with humus. I tried some as a cover for my peas and beans when I planted them on top of hay bales and they are thriving. It has a nice rich texture, doesn't have a strong smell, and seems to make the plants happy. I'm kind of curious where they get he manure from, but until I make friends with a farmer that will let me borrow a truck and go harvest his field, this is what I can get for in the city.

Hahira, GA(Zone 8b)

Darius - Thanks for bumping this! This answers unequivocally the question - why NOT MG? Now, we know! Samantha

San Clemente, CA(Zone 10a)

what about grow power plus? I have been told it is organic. is it harmful?

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

If it's organic it should be fine...but don't just go off of what someone told you, look at the package and see if it has the OMRI seal on it. If it does then it's organic and you can feel fine about using it, but if that logo isn't there then it isn't organic.

San Clemente, CA(Zone 10a)

thank you i will look for the OMRI stamp

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

MiracleGro sells potting soil that it calls organic, but there's no OMRI seal on it, unless I don't know what I'm looking for. Can you call a product organic that doesn't pass muster?

Richmond, VA(Zone 7a)

I have chosen to avoid the Miracle Gro brand potting soil that is labeled organic because I feel buying it supports both confusion about what organic really is, and supports a company, Miracle Gro, that I feel is marketing damaging things to an unaware public.

Just my personal stance there.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Good points, both of them. The problem is that that's all I can find in potting soil that calls itself organic!

Richmond, VA(Zone 7a)

Yeah I hear that!

Have you tried ordering online? I know it seems ridiculous to order potting soil, but it is one way to go.

Also, if there is any kind of nursery supplier or landscape supplier around where you live, they usually sell bulk soils and other substances, you might check that out.

If you make compost, you can mix compost and vermiculite or perlite, and some other things if you want too, coir or peatmoss -- and create your own! This is what I prefer to do but currently do not have a good compost going so cannot.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Yes, and no in the case of the word 'organic'. An organic compound as described in Wikipedia: "Organic compound, a compound that contains carbon (although some carbon-containing compounds are excluded)."

So we have the word 'organic' in a chemical sense, and it is technically 'correct'... however: "Organic agriculture is agriculture using only naturally produced fertilizers and non-chemical pest control."

So their bagged soil is technically correct on the label and they could not be sued for false advertising, but what they are really 'selling' is the implied safety of the product by using an ambiguous word. FWIW, most people don't really understand the use of the word anyway.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

All of my compost, plus the contents of my chicken coop, is now neatly lying on my garden rows awaiting seeds, so I have nothing left that I can use for potting soil. I hate the idea of buying something as inexpensive and bulky as potting soil on the web, though.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

To me unless it has an OMRI seal on it (or it's something you made yourself and you know what went in it) you can't be sure it's organic. But I'll admit that I cheat a bit on the organic thing with my containers...unless you're willing to buy all the individual components and make your own potting mix it is hard to find organic container mix.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

I buy from this guy, and lots has the OMRI seal... He also operates an organic CSA, and his 'store' is just a big building on his farm way out in the country. Nice man, trustworthy and knowledgeable, and does a decent mail-order business. I make a trip over there about twice a year because I get enough (by weight) that my gas is cheaper than shipping, and because I pick up stuff for 2-3 friends, too.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

The shipping costs are the problem. I'm not sure where I'd find potting soil with an OMRI seal around here; I'm sure the big box stores don't carry it. I got the MiracleGro bag at Home Depot before I looked at it carefully, but that was all they had, and even the local gardening places don't seem to have anything I could use.

Tonasket, WA(Zone 5a)

I did order on line earlier this spring, Turface ( finally found some), Vermiculite, Perlite ( used up all I had) , Coir blocks, wormcastings, 5 - 1 cu.ft. bags of what I think is really good potting soil for transplanting, Bloodmeal, Calphos sof Rock Phosphate. In this back of beyond area I cannot find any close suppliers of the above items. So I ordered the above from various places. Of course the shipping costs makes it expensive, but I guess if there were any local suppliers the shipping would be added in. The local Co-0p used to carry some of the above but now just food items. Everything I have transplanted so far this spring, tomatoes, etc. look very happy. I do have my own pretty good compost.

Now if the weather would just be cooperative!!! This morning 23 degrees, and very windy for past three days.


So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Donna, I used to make my own potting soil, and seed-starter too, but haven't been starting seeds or planted much in pots since I moved. I bought some new galvanized trash cans, and keet one filled with vermiculite, one with perlite, one with worm castings... these are all fairly light-weight items to ship.

I keep powdery or granular things like CalPhos, Greensand, Azomite in empty kitty-litter pails that have tight lids. Like you, I have nothing nearby for shopping, so I have to plan ahead and stock components in my shed.

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

You might look at Gardens Alive! Last season the catalog had a $20 coupon so I used it for a big bag of worm castings.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Yuska, I just checked their catalogue. Their potting soil looks nice but it doesn't say OMRI anywhere. Thanks, though!

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

The potting soil at 7 Springs doesn't say OMRI either, but it does say "Nat'l list" ... "Natíl List: Ingredients in these products are on the National List of Allowed Substances under the USDAís National Organic Program (NOP)"

North Ridgeville, OH(Zone 5b)

Have you checked Planet Natural?


Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

What about Spray N Grow products, now that I'm thinking about this? The ingredients are all "natural," but are they "organic" according to OMRI standards, and how much does that matter?

Mesquite, NV(Zone 9a)

I hope someone answers this question from greenhouse-gal. I use Spray N Grow products and now I'm concerned - the term "natural" can mean anything!

Hay Darius - what say you?

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