Miracle-Gro’s Organic Choice

Thanks to Sacramento Gardening for pointing out that Scotts now makes a line of Miracle-Gro organic products. Now, you might think that I’d jump on my high horse and rail against the corporate organic model, in which a smattering of organic products are wrapped around a giant, environmentally-unfriendly behemouth in the name of making a few extra bucks off do-gooder consumers.

Or you might think I’d complain, as many have, that when large corporations finally jump on the organic bandwagon, they drive small, dedicated producers (or farms, or cooperatives, or shops) out of business, even though those were the very people who created this market in the first place. Not to mention the fact that the “corporate organic” version of the product might satisfy only some minimal standards, might use cheap ingredients from dubious sources, or otherwise deliver an inferior product that causes customers new to organics to be disappointed and go back to the blue stuff.

But no. Believe it or not, I’m not going to take that stand. Getting what we ask for is not an occasion for complaints. It’s a cause for celebration. Garden chemicals are a disaster for the environment and the people applying them. Americans spray90 million pounds of pesticides on their lawns and gardens every year, and fertilizer runoff is a serious problem for streams, lakes, and groundwater. It’s astonishing to me that professional landscapers and contractors need training and a license to apply some of the same chemicals that any idiot (like me) could walk into a nursery and purchase for themselves, and use in whatever way they see fit with little understanding of the consequences.

So to Scotts I say: Yes! Organic products are a HUGE step forward, and now they’ll be in major mainstream retailers, including all the big box stores, around the country where customers can make a choice. Great!

There is an interesting little footnote to this story, however. Scotts recently bought the Rod McLellan company, which owns Supersoil, Black Magic, and Whitney Farms. There was some speculation in the industry that Scotts intended all along to shut these companies down and replace their products with a Miracle-Gro brand. While Whitney Farms organic fertilizers are still available in stores, I wonder if this is in fact the next step. Whitney has always been sold in independent nurseries, where Scotts products are not always welcome with open arms. If Whitney goes, will independent nurseries stock Miracle-Gro’s organic line, or will they turn to other companies like Dr. Earth or Fox Farm to fill the gap?

Stay tuned, folks. As for me? I’m glad Scotts is rolling out better, safer products, but I’ll continue to support the little guys.

Miracle-Gro: Organic Choice Products