Organic Gardens/Miracle grow to organic garden
I will be revamping my entire garden this spring and need to know what can be done to my soil which was previously "fed" Miracle Grow. I wod love to go organic, but is that possible after a product like this has already been in the soil?
Whether you are contemplating a vegetable garden, a flower border, or both, the benefits of organic culture are drawing more gardeners every day.
In general, commercial growers contemplating Organic Certification must not use pesticides or chemical fertilizers for three years before they harvest.
While chemical fertilizers like Miracle-Gro don't create the food safety risks of pesticides and weedkillers, they have a heavy carbon footprint, pollute water, and reduce fertility by destroying natural microflora and fauna. So far as we can tell now, there is no link between Miracle Gro and, say, Parkinsons Disease, infertility or cancer, something you cannot say about Glyphosate.
The Organica website makes some interesting points on its website with a report it posts, "Why we don't sell Miracle Gro":
Miracle Gro was bought out several years ago by the landscaping supplies behemouth Scotts. They expanded the brand from a pretty blue fertilizer mix to a range of garden chemicals, bringing its customers that much closer to Silent Springs by evading or outright violating pro-Earth laws. As Organica explains:
"Miracle-Gro is mass produced, made with inferior ingredients that are cheap and destructive to the environment. Scotts has been found guilty many times in US Ferderal Court of purposely mislabeling products with carcinogens and using products that are lethal to wildlife and humans."
It is less easy to transition from soil that has been "treated" with chemical pesticides and weedkillers. As you likely know, the aforementioned, apocalyptic Round-Up is particularly dreadful. In Australia, scientists are warning the country, "Glyphosate is chemically very stable and degraded only by bacteria at a snail's pace." They note further: "Increasing levels of glyphosate in soil will initially harm soil fertility and could later lead to an environment too toxic for any plant to grow."
If all you have to worry about is Miracle-Gro, consider yourself lucky.
The success of any mission to convert to organics depends on how good you are at building soil structure. You probably know that I am a big believer in soil testing. But I don't think you're up to that yet. For 6 months to a year, make a point of feeding your soil -- add compost and any organic matter you can dig up. Don't till in the spring -- you'll crash the soil structure by breaking the hyphae of mycorrhizae underground. Simply pressing ashovel in the ground does that. So try not to.
Instead, let your Earthworms do the heavy lifting. Spread a layer of compost, coffee grounds and dead leaves in your garden and cover with a layer of soil. Don't let the soil dry out -- bacteria need moisture to thrive, so "water" the soil even where you don't have anything planted there "yet."
And then a year from now, get a soil test. It will tell you what's there, what's missing, and what you need to do. If you get a soil test now, you'll actually have a benchmark so that you can see progress, which is nice to have. With every day of progress, your tiny piece of Planet Earth makes the world a better place.
Food for thought as we polar vortex our way through winter.
Thanks for writing.