Flash Player 6 is required to view this component of the site.


What the Miracle-Gro commercials
don't tell you...

You've probably seen TV commercials for Miracle-Gro in which a commentator or gardeners tell you about producing prize-winning flowers or big tomatoes using Miracle-Gro soluble fertilizers.

That's true.

But what the commercials don't tell you is that soluble fertilizers such as Miracle-Gro will do nothing to build up your soil and, depending what you use, may not be providing all the healthful micro-nutrients to your vegetables.

In fact, using only soluble fertilizer salts will deplete your soil over time of its beneficial qualities and you'll need more and more soluble fertilizers to sustain your plants. That's why a common complaint from gardeners is that their lawn will green up nicely after an application of soluble fertilizer, but then start to look sickly two or three weeks later. That's because there's nothing in the soil to sustain the lawn's beauty. Once the fertilizers are used up or washed away, you need more and more.

Also, a vegetable--no matter how beautiful and healthful it looks--will only be as healthful as the nutrients it takes in during growth. Tests on tomatoes have shown wide differences in micro-nutrients depending where and how they're grown. The United Nations, in fact, has expressed concern about people not getting proper nutrition from vegetables because farmers over-use nitrogen to promote faster, lusher growth at the expense of minor elements people also need in their diets.

So what's the answer? Not to rely solely on soluble fertilizers for plant growth and do something to build up your soil so you don't need solubles.

Sure, solubles are great for container growing because your plants' roots are confined and it's difficult to keep adding beneficial "organic" materials to the soil. However, even here, some gardeners prefer to use liquid fish fertilizer or seaweed or manure "tea" (manure stewed in water) instead of harsh salts.

I know a herb grower--who provides herbs to nurseries in the area--who uses nothing but seaweed solution throughout the plant's early growth. And I couldn't believe how his plants looked healthier and more robust than a competitor whom I had always praised as the best plant grower in these parts. (The competitor uses soluble crystals.)

Your garden soil will be the best it can be and grow the best crops, if you do what gardeners and farmers did before the invention of quick crystal fixes: add compost and manures to your soil. That will keep the tiny munchkin microbes happy as they break it down into wonderfully nutritious stuff.

If each shovelful of your garden soil has a handful of earthworms, you've got happy soil that will grow happy crops and make your body happy. Uh, better use a fork to turn over your soil instead; you want to keep those worms happy by not slicing them up!

That's not to say that solubles such as Miracle-Gro can't be used from time to time to achieve a certain growth objective. But understand how it works and its limitations.

Back to top

Kozy Coats, Sea Magic, Bonadea Gardens and the Bonadea Gardens Logo are registered trademarks of Bonadea Gardens, Inc. in the U.S. and Canada.