How to Be a Better Gardener

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I found this photo from a 2009 blog post. This garden is about 2 or 3 years old here. See the same garden below, how it looks today. Click in to see what Hinoki Cypress are available now.

How to Be a Better Gardener

Every so often, when I jump on my high horse about NOT using fortified soil for miniature gardening, I feel like I am shouting in a vacuum. I mean, what’s a miniature gardener sitting at her desk in Seattle to do when we come up against a behemoth like Scott’s Miracle Gro’s and their crummy Potting Soil that kills our miniature garden plants and discourages people from gardening? They have to know that new gardeners will blame themselves for killing plants and may not try to grow anything ever again. It’s shameful.

So, I do what I normally do, I asked the Internet. Of course, I found out I wasn’t alone:

Consumer affairs gives Scott’s Miracle Gro Potting Soil 1 1/4 stars (out of 5) with 141 complaints to date.

Consumer reviews on Amazon.com for Miracle Grow Moisture Control Potting Mix, 87% of the reviews gives it one star out of five, probably because they can’t give it zero stars.

Good things come in small packages.The forums are full of way more complaints than not. Heartbreaking stories include using Miracle Gro Potting Soil to repot grandma’s 35-year-old plants and killing them within a couple of days. Other tragic tales include the new bags being filled with gnats and infesting homes and gardens. Scotts used to be a brand name that we can trust and it’s interesting to notice the more popular they get, the more complaints they get. And yet, they are advertising more, they are in more stores than ever AND they are in the back pockets of industry professionals, sponsoring them so they’ll be quiet, I bet.

It truly is the number one killer of our miniature garden trees and plants. I constantly get emails about dead or dying plants only to find out that they used Miracle Gro Potting Soil. It’s maddening to be able to offer the best quality plant material, only to have the customer use the wrong soil and kill them within days.

Did you know that fresh organic soil contains enough nutrients to sustain a miniature garden for at least 3 years? No need to fertilize so spend your money on a better-quality soil instead.

Now, if you do hear of any good reviews, it’s probably because it has been used for heavy-feeders, like annuals and vegetables. You will also noticed that the “good” reviews are only on the big-box-store websites, interestingly enough, like Walmart, Ace Hardware and Home Depot. Funny, huh?

But I would be very wary of using any chemicals on my veggies. And no, Miracle Gro Potting Soil is not organic. Here’s a page from the website listing the ingredients that go into “the perfect mix.” Once you click in, hit Command F to search the page for the keyword “organic.” You’ll find two at the bottom of the page directing you to their “organic and natural potting mix,” under the brand name Nature’s Care. (Ironically, I first read the website name as NatureScare.com.) BUT this soil STILL has the water-retaining polymers so how can it be completely organic and natural? Hmmm?

JeanIseliHinoki - 1

The same Hinoki in the same pot, 7 years later. While some conifer lovers would think this appealing, for us miniature gardeners, it’s a great tree for a tire swing, birdhouse or treehouse. The patio is from a stone sheet and our Mini Patio Mix Kit – both are available in our online store. Click the pic to get visit!

We are being duped by their advertising and marketing claiming all these benefits. The professional Garden Writers Association has always been sponsored by Scotts (which is owned by Monsanto, btw) – which is why you won’t hear many other garden writers writing about this. My publisher strongly advised that I join this group, but I just couldn’t because it goes against my principles and I’ve since taken the hit professionally too. I’m still baffled by this lack of activism within the garden world. Heck, Hollywood celebrities are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in for our planet.

Miniature Gardening with Janit Calvo

So please ignore the huge Scotts promotions this season in the big-box-stores despite the rock-bottom prices. Walk past the pallets of Miracle Gro Potting Soil and look for an established organic alternative like Cedar Grove’s line of soils, for example

urlHere is a link to the USDA’s organic integrity database if you want to do any research for yourself.  There’s a search bar under the word operation that you can use to make it fast and easy.  Also look for the USDA organic status symbol on any packaging. Now there is a concern about anything being completely 100% organic, but at least this is a step in the right direction.

As with anything these days the more stuff it has in it, the more chemicals it’s “fortified” with, is not better.  Simplicity is better and organic is more in-tune with our beings and our souls, not to mention our health and the health of the planet – now isn’t that worth a couple of extra dollars?

If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for everything.

I’ll get off my soapbox now, thank you for reading.

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3 Comments »

  1. Peta said

    I just read this article and everything in it doesn’t surprise except you talk about fresh organic soil. I’m in Australia and where do I get this from or do you have some kind of recipe for it.

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  2. zooplies.com

    How to Be a Better Gardener | The Mini Garden Guru – Your Miniature Garden Source

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