Hey All - I realize this will be a hot topic. I adhere to the organic spirit 99% of the time, but I try to keep an open mind and don't follow the letter of the law rigidly. Some will undoubtedly want to answer, "you can't, the end" to my question, and I totally support you on that!
So my wife's grandpa passed a while back; he was an avid, although very conventional, gardener. When we were cleaning out his garage, I came across his giant box of miracle grow and thought to myself that, although I would never have bought it myself, surely it would be adding insult to injury for those nutrients to just be thrown away and wasted. So, I took the box home.
I'm reading Phil Nauta's book, Building Soils Naturally, at the moment, and I just read about what the typical synthetic NPK fertilizers do in the soil. So what I'm wondering is, how can I incorporate those nutrients into my soil while minimizing the nasty stuff Phil describes? My thought was just to dilute it a ton and spray it in tiny doses onto an active compost pile over time. Thoughts? I may not be able to bring myself to use it at all, haha...2 warring sides in my brain! Thanks all.
I would also not purchase it, but I would use it if I had it. Synthetic fertilizers build up salts in the soil with continued use. Also the production methods of these substances are not very environmentally ethical...
Also these products are produced by big bad corporations or so I've heard.
Using up that miracle grow? I would use it till it runs out with no problem. Potted plants would be my first choice because nutrients wash through so fast, but You could also do some foliar feeding on your crops with it.
If I were going to change my eating habits and become a vegan I would finish the bacon in the refrigerator first....
I definitely would not put it on any compost pile, as it will likely kill off the beneficial microbes. I'd simply follow the directions on the box, maybe diluting it a bit, and have a designated (hungry) plant or plants to put it on over time. Preferably this would be a potted plant or tree, away from any natural water systems. For instance, a potted indoor lemon tree, or a flowerbox on a porch. Maybe your wife could use it to plant a few trees in her granpa's honor?
Another option is to give it away to another gardener, or just hold onto it in a dry and safe area in case things ever really go south and you're planting and trying to make a yield out of true necessity. The latter is what I would probably do.
Frankly, I'm not too concerned. I would use it for container gardening, such as the half barrels our tomatoes grow in. They are heavy feeders, and we have not as yet succeeded in meeting their needs with natural methods.
Or, get cash: put it on Craigslist/Kijiji and sell it to somebody for use on their indoor houseplants or flower pots.
I believe those water soluble petroleum derived plant fertilizers have no business being used in any soil. There is no benefit to be gained, and much harm to occur. As an analogy, it's like humans eating processed junk food like cheetos, Burger King and washing it down with mountain dew. It'll make a person feel full, but the substances do not nourish and only deteriorate a persons health. The same thing happens in a soil and the plants.
"Study books and observe nature; if they do not agree, throw away the books." ~ William A. Albrecht
I would be in the camp of not using it personally. However, what to do with it is a conundrum. Selling it or giving it away just ensures that it will.be put into the environment in a likely harmful way (and depending on your world view, may make you complicit in that harm). Throwing it away just compounds the environmental harm done in its creation.
This is what I would do. Use it on ornamental plants in containers and eliminate/minimize run off from those containers. Then make compost out of those ornamentals. If you wanted to make use of it quickly you could set up some large containers and use the miracle grow to produce fast growing cover crop type stuff to use for a big compost pile.
Thanks for your thoughts everyone! I appreciate the thoughtful and measured responses. It was also cool to see the spectrum straight from "no way" to "no worries" without anyone getting heated. I feel like we need more of that in the world!
Anyway - trying to synthesize as many responses as possible - I think what I'll do is not actively look for a way to incorporate the nutrients into my garden ecosystem (e.g., I won't just add it to my compost), but I'll keep it on hand and use light applications on potted plants as a last-ditch option if they seem to be struggling and my normal strategies aren't helping.
I have a similar dilemma, only I bought the miracle grow once upon a time. I know better now , and didn't know what to do with it, so it sits in the barn getting older and older. I thought about giving it to my sister-in-law, because she uses crap like that, but I decided it would be hypocritical because I try to get everyone to only use natural organic stuff. I have thought about using it on my flowers, but just didn't want it in my yard. So it sits. Good luck to you what ever you decide to do.
“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” — Abraham Lincoln