Hi MG! I have some neighbours at my cottage on Lake Huron. They have container gardens and are addicted to using Miracle Gro concentrated ‘Liquafeed’ that is sprayed with water onto growing plants. I am trying to find an organic substitute for them. We are so close to the lake, I have concerns about it getting into the aquatic system and causing algae blooms etc. Can you suggest a substitute- ideally sprayed in the same way. One friend has low vision and finds it is very easy for her to feed her plants this way. Thank you!
Miracle-Gro is a synthetic fertilizer. Synthetic fertilizers are made from human-made compounds like ammonium nitrate, ammonium phosphate, and potassium sulphate. At the most basic level, synthetic fertilizers feed the plant, and organic fertilizers feed the soil. When exposed to the air, these compounds can create a green house gas the damages human lungs. Nitrogen in excess can be a poison when it can’t be detoxified fast enough by the liver. Synthetic fertilizer can also contain heavy metals such as iron, zinc, manganese, boron and molybdenum.
Your neighbours could use liquid kelp or fish emulsion. They are liquid products that are diluted in water and then used to water the plants – ideal for containers. Fish emulsion has a bit of a smell when you’re mixing it up, but when it is absorbed by the soil, you don’t smell anything. I have used it for houseplants. There may be other products, but these two are pretty mainstream now and you can probably find them in the nursery areas of big box stores and if not there, nurseries will definitely have them. Another possibility might be slow release organic granular fertilizers. You sprinkle them on the top of the soil and as you water they slowly dissolve. It’s also an easy way to fertilize.
With more than $2 billion in worldwide sales and more than 6,000 associates, The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, through its wholly-owned subsidiary, The Scotts Company, LLC, is the world’s largest marketer of branded consumer products for lawn and garden care, with products for professional horticulture as well. This following link is the Miracle-Gro Safety Data Sheet written by the manufacturer. It’s a bit frightening even though, according to them, a lot of information is unavailable.
This next link describes the horrors of Miracle-gro. It’s not the type of scientific resource that Master Gardeners should provide but it is easily understandable. The link after that is written by the United Nations Environment Program and it says more or less the same thing.
Good luck with your neighbours.