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Monday, September 3, 2012

Which is Better? Miracle Gro or Compost?

Q. Compost or Miracle Gro? Which is better?

A. No question that good quality compost is usually the best choice. Problem is finding a good quality compost and using it appropriately. Good quality composts are expensive.
            There are potential problems with compost. These include unwanted salts that can come with the compost, its potential problem with food safety issues like E. coli and other microorganisms that accompany the use of manures, the development of some insect problems such as fungus gnats and grubs and potential weed problems if the compost was not handled properly.
Yellowish brown leachate (liquid) from the compost.
A compost tea full of lots of stuff.
            High quality agricultural fertilizers can be big help in our landscapes. They can be applied to the soil and usually to the foliage as well. They can supplement a good fertilizer program whether you use compost or not. I will talk more about this on my blog.


fecal matter safety compost -


  1. I am posting this for a reader who emailed me this comment. RLLM.

    Thank you for your weekly articles in the Summerlin View community newspaper. However I was a little disappointed that your answer to the question "Compost or Miracle Gro?" did not offer the suggestion to use compost tea. I live in a normal subdivision with not much yard but have a simple compost pile on the side of the house out of view made of wire fencing formed in a circle. Since I am vegetarian I have lots of watermelon rinds, banana peels, etc. that go in the pile. I add leaves occasionally but otherwise don't do much to it and it decomposes rapidly and is filled with worms. Any household could do this without much trouble. Making the tea is simple with a 5 gallon bucket and our sun and is an excellent fertilizer as you can see from the photo of my backyard attached. The tea is a balanced fertilizer containing many more micronutrients than the Miracle Gro has I'm sure. Also it is unlikely to "burn" any plants even in the heat of summer. I can't really use much of the actual compost in my landscape with so many roots and underground irrigation hoses that might be damaged if I try to dig in it and also the rock mulch that covers it but I do use it when transplanting or in pots. Also this keeps a lot of waste out of the waste stream being trucked to landfills. Since I also recycle every scrap of paper, plastic, or glass that comes into my house I barely have any trash for pickup. In addition I keep a plastic tub/bowl in my sink to catch the rinse water from dishes, vegetables, etc and pour it on my plants.
    I hope that you make these and more sustainable suggestions in the future as we all have a responsibility to take care of the resources that are being used and wasted at an alarming rate.
    Thank you very much.

  2. I appreciated your article on good quality composts which I saw on lne in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

    I agree that bacteria are of concern and you can read this recent paper of mine about the issues in the industry.


    William Brinton, Ph.D.
    Woods End Labs

    I have posted Dr. Brinton's journal article in the body of the blog above. RLLM