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Question
Hello,

We have recently bought ORGANIC seeds, because I want to go the organic route, as much as we can.  

My husband is going to buy 50/50 and I would like to know if that could have any pesticides in it?  I actually wrote the company, that is going to sell us the soil and asked if their 50/50 was pesticide free.  (They are closed for the weekend, so I won't hear back until next week, hopefully).

After I sent my question, I worried that maybe it would offend them.  I don't want them to think I think their soil is nasty or contaminated. Can this type of soil have pesticides, as a rule?

And is there any type of soil you'd recommend, since we are planting organic seeds?  The 50/50 that we are going to buy (according to the website) has 50% Topsoil, 25% Cow Manure, and  25% Aged Pine Fines.

Thank you for taking the time to read this any advice is very appreciated!  

Beth

Answer
I apologize for not getting back to you sooner.  It is the busy season, and I have too much to do!

If you have put down the 50/50, although it sounds like an expensive route, I can only guess that it has no pesticides or something that would discourage you from using it for an organic garden.

I say that because unlike many other products, this has no fertilizer, which is a common additive in some of the bags you see at Home Depot and Lowes and an excuse to charge more for the soil.

Pesticides being something that would drive up the cost of a product, I believe if they were going to add those, they would brag about it.  And I see no evidence of any such bragging.

I would not worry about hurting the feelings of the company.  They have employees who take care of business and don't take these things personally.

I would like to know why you are adding "Aged Pine Fines" to your soil.  The cow manure makes sense.  The topsoil -- in a bag -- I don't get.  Are you growing these plants in pots?

I would go down to your local Starbucks and make friends with the manager and ask him/her if you can pick up their coffee grounds at 5 in the morning when they open or 11pm at night in when they close.  They will get you a nice big bag of grounds every day.  You can spread these over the top of your garden and Earthworms will come a-knocking at your door.

Dunkin Donuts may have some good grounds, too, but stay away from the flavored coffees.

You may be concerned that the Starbucks coffee grounds are not purely organic.  If there is a principle you are working with, then I would not use them, but it is very hard to replace those beautiful coffee grounds with organic grounds since those are so expensive and not so plentiful.

I am also concerned that the nutritional value of your soil will not be significant enough for your plants to thrive in the 50/50.  Soil needs organic matter -- which you have added with the cow manure, but I am concerned.  Next spring, after the garden is up and running, I recommend you bring a sample down to your local Coop Extension Service and have it tested.  Alternately, you can buy a home kit and do it yourself.

Thank you for your question and let me know if you have any followup responses.

L.I.G.

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There is NO EXCUSE today for a gardener to use chemicals. Perfect Lawns? Pristine Roses? Immaculate Flowers all Summer long? If you live in the Northeast/Atlantic Coast, I'll guide you down the non-toxic road to Organica - and you will not believe how easy it can be. Yes, it can be complicated, but backing off from Ortho and Scotts is not as hard as you think. Your neighbors won't believe their eyes. I have intelligent answers on soil care, bug killing, weed control and fungus-freedom!

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I have college credits in horticulture and botany, and 30 years of gardening for personal pleasure. Plus I am a volunteer docent at the local botanical gardens. But a person's real gardening skills are learned from trial and error. I am strict about not using chemicals in the garden. Always have been. Always will be.

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