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  • Organic Potting Soil

    [align=left]I am experimenting with container gardening this year. I bought eight bags of potting soil to fill the containers and plant some tomatoes. But there was something about the aroma the bags of potting soil emitted in my station wagon on the drive home that has me wondering: will these tomatoes be organically grown in that soil?

    Hereís the ingredients list: composted bark fines, organic humus, compost, pumice, peat moss, sand, perlite.

    So, what item on that list made the bags cast a chemical aroma? Could the compost be treated with some chemical?

    Iím stumped. I donít want to*eat tomatoes (or give them to friends) in soil that has toxic chemicals. But thereís nothing on the ingredients list that shouldnít be in an organic system that I can see.

    Any idea what the source of the chemical-ish smell could be?
    [/align]

  • #2
    Hi Judith,

    Could some chemical in the manufacture of the bags be giving off the smell?* I would suggest you call the company listed on the bags and see what they have to say.* I'd love to know too.

    Newt

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    • #3
      [align=left]What a good idea to call the company. Funny how something so obvious and simple never even occurred to me. I'll get the phone number and check into this, and let you know what I discover. [/align]
      [align=left]- Judith[/align]

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      • #4
        Judith, I hope they have an explanation.*

        Newt

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        • #5
          [align=left]An update. The company that produced my potting soil is Rexius. I've left a phone message with the "Director of Potting Soils," but have had no reply just yet.[/align]
          [align=left]- Judith[/align]

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          • #6
            Judith, thanks for the update.* Btw, I had a conversation with a poster on a board and I can't find the post.* I'm wondering if it was you.* They mentioned that their hostas were looking very poorly and I just learned about a newly discovered virus that could be to blame.* Was it you?

            Newt

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            • #7
              [align=left]Hi Newt - [/align]

              [align=left]*[/align]

              [align=left]Still no word from the "Director of Potting Soil." I'll leave another phone message with him tomorrow. [/align]


              [align=left]Nope, sorry. It wasn't me about the hostas. I tried a quick search to see if one of the twenty results would pop out at me, but none did. It'll come to you, eventually. [/align]


              [align=left]- Judith[/align]


              [align=left]~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~[/align]

              [align=left]Judith at A to Z Gardening is Talking Dirt:*blogging true confessions of an organic gardener. [/align]

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              • #8
                [align=left]All right. The short answer is that the potting soil I used is not organic, despite the organic-ness of the list of ingredients. [/align]

                [align=left]After a bit of phone tag, a*very nice man at Rexius explained that in the potting soil business, producers are allowed to use synthetic fertilizers in the compost to break it down quicker. The potting soil brand name I bought was Nutra-Grow, (which in retrospect might have been my first clue that synthetics were afoot), and*he informed me that product*does indeed have synthetic*fertilizer in the compost -*hence the chemical smell it emitted in the closed environ of my car. *[/align]

                [align=left]This company (and others, too, I am sure) does produce a certified organic potting soil called Filthy Rich, but it wasn't on the scene when I bought my in-organic ;)*potting soil.[/align]

                [align=left]So, now I know. My container tomatoes are not organically grown after all. Kind of bugs me, but there it is, a done deed.[/align]

                [align=left]- Judith[/align]

                [align=left]~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~[/align]

                [align=left]Judith at A to Z Gardening is Talking Dirt: blogging true confessions of an organic gardener. [/align]

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                • #9
                  Gosh, Judith.* That's a real bummer!* I think it's crimina! what manufacturers are allowed to get away with.* So sorry this happened to you.

                  Thanks for letting us know.
                  Newt

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                  • #10
                    [align=left]Thanks for commiserating, Newt. It might not seem like a big deal to some that there are chemicals in the potting soil, but my whole schtick is about organic, sustainable, healthy gardening practices. In more than a decade of gardening, I've never used a single synthetic (to my knowledge). And now, I have these containers buried to their rims in my garden for the summer (the plan being to move them into my greenhouse when the weather turned cold in September). They are doubtless*leaching chemicals into*the garden*soil, and growing the sickliest seven tomatoes*plants you never want to see.*They have fruit on them, I've grown them from seed, and I just can't bring myself to uproot them as if they weren't living things - which they are!*[/align]

                    [align=left]The big lesson: if it doesn't say, "Organic," then it ain't. I was*taking shortcuts by just reading the ingredients list, rather than leaving that garden center and going to find one that had Certified Organic soil.*[/align]

                    [align=left]I've had some issues with the Organic Food Production Law and all the smaller market*growers that can't*keep up with the paperwork and expense of*compliance being forced out. On the other hand, I can see the value of regulations and standards. [/align]

                    [align=left]Anyway, this year's experiment in container gardening has been an eye opener. I've learned lots that will make it better next year. [/align]

                    [align=left]- Judith[/align]

                    [align=left]~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~[/align]

                    [align=left]Judith at A to Z Gardening is Talking Dirt: blogging true confessions of an organic gardener. [/align]

                    [align=left]**[/align]

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                    • #11
                      Judith, I do understand.* We rented this house for 13 years before we purchased it 5 years ago.* During that time I NEVER used chemicals in the garden. I still don't.* We have a great diversity of bird life, squirrels, a woodchuck that has visited once, butterflies galore, hummingbirds and toads.* All on 1/10th of an acre. We also have 4 dogs and 2 cats.*

                      Unfortunately the home inspection found carpenter ants.* I begged the exterminator to use the least toxic chemicals.* Within a week I found 6 dead toads.* It was heartbreaking.* I also have chemical sensitivities, so I really do understand.

                      Newt

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                      • #12
                        [align=left]Whoa, that's not good. Six dead toads after fumigation is just not a coincidence. And you know, (since you have chemical sensitivities), that there should be no playing around with chemicals. At best, they're toxic - at worst, deadly. That's one of the reasons I always wonder about the reasons home gardeners use synthetic fertilizers... I mean, if it's in the soil, it's in the food! No matter how many extra big old tomatoes I might get from using synthetics (and I'm not convinced I would even get more), who cares? I don't want to eat what's in them. [/align]
                        [align=left]Sorry. A little rant there. [/align]
                        [align=left]Newt, I'm also sorry about the effect the*exterminator's work*had on your animal friends and beyond. Take heart, nature will rebalance itself given time. [/align]
                        [align=left]~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                        Judith at A to Z Gardening is Talking Dirt: blogging true confessions of an organic gardener. [/align]

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                        • #13
                          Judith, fortunately mother nature has gotten back in balance and we have toads again this year.* I just love to listen to them.* One we've named Tommy lives just off the front porch and loves to hide behind the flower pots there.

                          Newt

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                          • #14
                            [align=left]Oh, Tommy is gorgeously fat! Think of all the little insects that have rounded his belly and aren't messing with your plants... not that his good work is the only reason to admire and appreciate him. [/align]
                            [align=left]We have western tree frogs by our*creek that sing loudly enough to make you think they were as big as Tommy, but actually they are much smaller, and I never see them - only get to hear their song during mating season. [/align]
                            [align=left]- Judith[/align]
                            [align=left]~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                            Judith at A to Z Gardening is Talking Dirt: blogging true confessions of an organic gardener. [/align]

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                            • #15
                              Glad you like Tommy too.* I think he's so cute and chubby!* What a face!

                              Here's a giant 25# snapping turtle we found on a very busy road.* The Maryland Department of Natural Resources let us release him in a closed Wildlife area.* I can only post one pic at a time so I'll have to do multiple posts so you can see him go!

                              Newt

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