Monday, April 10, 2006

Miracle-Gro... Friend or Foe?

Amy Stewart started an interesting thread on her Dirt blog about Scotts Miracle-Gro's aquisition of Whitney Farms. .. which got me thinking... which got her thinking... anyway, just jump in wherever you want.

What does all this mean for organic gardeners?

Thickening the plot, Miracle-Gro now has a line of organic fertilizers and soil amendments called Organic Choice. I'd love to hear what gardeners think about all this. Have you seen Miracle-Gro's organic products at local independent nurseries? Box stores? So far, I've only spotted 1 cu. ft. bags of Miracle-Gro organic soil conditioner at Target. If you spy Miracle-Gro's Organic Choice products anywhere, let us know! At the same time, where are you seeing Whitney Farms products and other "smaller" organic brands?

Amy's response to my comment: Dirt: Miracle-Gro's Organic Choice


  1. I will sheepishly amidt to buying the Miracle Gro Organic Choice Blood Meal at Lowe's. I felt like Faust and recognize the immediate false gratification brings with it future problems. I was desperate. It is too bad small authentic companies never seem to be around when you are desperate.

  2. Most independent nurseries don’t carry Scott’s products as they are widely viewed as chain or box store products. To differentiate ourselves we carry brands that are generally not found in the chains. Our garden center carries “E.B. Stone” brand of organic fertilizers as well as “Foxfarm” brand. All of “E.B.Stones” organic line is just that, organic. Foxfarm carries organic products as well as synthetic types. Don’t assume that all of Foxfarms products are organic.

    Organic products tend to feed more slowly and for a longer period than synthetics. Organic gardeners have to be more aware of their gardens and what they need as these products don’t produce results overnight.

    The comment from Ellen spells out just why you need to think ahead when organic gardening. “Authentic” companies are authentic for the very reason they are not found in chain stores. Just like Mc Donald’s or any other fast food place, you pay for convenience by accepting a product that is not as good as that special restaurant you have to make reservations for. Authentic means thinking ahead and not becoming desperate. Organic gardening is very forgivable if you don’t over do things.

    Did you know that Scott’s owns “Osmacote”, “Ortho’, Smith & Hawken”, “Whitney Farms” and are the exclusive distributor of “Round-Up” herbicide? Nothing wrong with that, I just don’t know if I would want to eat at Mc Donald’s everyday.

  3. Thanks for commenting on this very interesting topic, Ellen and Trey. The subject bears further research. I just did a little poking around on the web and discovered that Peaceful Valley Farm Supply
    and Harmony Farm Supply both sell a line of boxed fertilizers from Down to Earth Distributors, Inc.. Not only does this Eugene, Oregon company claim to use only high-quality ingredients with no fillers, their boxes are safe to compost.

    Is Down to Earth any better than Whitney Farms, E.B. Stone or Foxfarm? I don't know, but I'd sure like to find out. Rather than looking at where my organic fertilizers come from, I'd like to know what's in them. I checked Organic Gardening magazine to see if they've done any comparisons on organic fertilizer quality by brand, but found nothing.

    If you're a gardener who's adamant about gardening organically, you should check out the complete list of OMRI certified products. OMRI stands for Organic Materials Review Institute and is an independent organization that reviews products for use in certified organic production. This certification program caters to the farming industry, but it does list products home gardeners can buy. Unfortunately, there are bound to be some good companies that haven't applied for OMRI certification and won't be on the list. Somebody still needs to evaluate home gardening products more closely. Any UC Davis grad students need a fun thesis project?