Miracle Grow Use On Cannabis?

Mon Mar 21, 2011 8:31 pm
Miracle grow is formulated for flowers and vegetables with a shorter life-span than Cannabis... and Cannabis has special needs NOT found in Miracle grow... it is do-able ONLY if nothing else is available...
again, We are trying to get the best quality from our plants, and max-out the quantity for it's size/age/grow method...
why go to the trouble of growing if you don't want to learn to do it in a way that you get the best possible results?
Another great question on the Portland Backyard Farmers group. Because I can’t answer anything without writing a book, I’m going to give my opinion here.

Disclaimer: I am dumb.

The question was basically this (paraphrased a bit):

“As a kid I my mom used Miracle Gro in her garden. Everything she had grew so well and HUGE! I want my plants to be safe for my kids and for the world, so is Miracle Gro good or bad? I read the ingredients and didn’t see anything crazy in it. I assume the problems with it are on the larger environmental scale. Thoughts?â€

Very interesting question, I think. I put up a poll on the group early on to ask where people landed in the “organic->conventional†spectrum. While we only got 18 responses, they were 2/3 totally organic, 1/3 mostly organic, and nothing else.

I’d, personally, fall into the “mostly organic†column. I have some Miracle Gro in my greenhouse. When I have a plant, usually a seedling, that’s not doing well or that I want to give a boost for whatever reason, I’ll foliar feed with some dilute MG. It seems to be one of the fastest ways to get some quick nutrients in to the plant, and it’s very soluble, dissolves quickly, doesn’t gunk up spray bottles, etc. I rarely, if ever, use it after the weather warms. I’ll buy a small box every few years. (Incidentally, I also have an I-don’t-know-how-old, still-unopened can of Sevin insecticide and a mostly full bottle of Round Up. They’re sort of like that cigarette in a glass case for someone who quit smoking.)

Now, that said, MG is made from by-products of the petroleum/energy industry. It’s pretty much the antithesis of the concept of “organic†in every way. It’s made to feed the plant directly rather than the organic concept of feeding the soil. The analogy in my mind is antibiotics.

Ideally, I’ll eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep to stay healthy and fend off disease. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, that doesn’t work, and I get sick. I’m not going to suffer and die on principle when I can use readily available products in a responsible way to get me back on the right track.

I’m also not going to make prophylactic antibiotic use part of my diet. Same goes for MG. Firstly, if your garden’s healthy, you don’t really need it. In my opinion, it’s TOO available. Better to feed your soil with slow release organic sources that promote the soil’s flora and fauna– ultimately providing the whole range of necessary components and micronutrients your plant needs to thrive and produce healthy, delicious output. Hitting it over the head with MG is, probably, going to give you large, leafy plants (I seem to recall that urea is the main ingredient– basically straight up nitrogen), but that’s an illusion of health. Your soil is likely to go all out of whack and you, like the guy with antibiotic laced breakfast cereal, are going to be on a nasty spiral of dependency.

Use MG, soil gets out of balance, plants grow too vegetatively attracting pests and diseases, veggies don’t taste good for lack of micronutrients… The solution for many? More Miracle Gro!

I won’t even touch on the political ramifications. It’s a petroleum product (but I drive a car sometimes, too). Runoff, carbon footprint, inefficient packaging, etc. They’re all valid points of discussion but have a tendency to quickly devolve into a religious shouting match.

“You’re a poseur buying insanely expensive designer fish emulsion!â€
“You’re a corporate sycophant who hates the earth mother!â€
“Farmers grow food for the world and they use chemical fertilizers!â€
“Farmers are oppressed by Monsanto and destroying the earth in a bid to survive economically!â€
So, your original question, if I remember right after babbling this long, was sort of “what are the larger ramifications of using MG?†To that, see the comments about petroleum products, etc. However, I really think that the bigger issue (if only because of scale of impact– you’re not going to cause significant environmental anything using a little MG in your garden; they sell many tons of the stuff whether you use it or not) is one of defining “grows so well†and “safe for my kidsâ€. If you mean, plants get tall, leafy, and crazy green, MG is great for that (ignoring the pests that that will attract). Likewise, if you mean it won’t directly poison your kids used properly, I’d agree that it’s safe (ignoring the pesticides that you’ll want to use).

However, if you mean that your plants grow strong, disease-resistant, and according to their environment (thereby helping you maintain a healthy soil for more resilient garden), or if you mean that the tomatoes that you pick have that whole, rich range of flavors that the micronutrient-rich soil provides, I’d recommend staying away from chemical ferts for the most part– unless it’s seen as a component of a much larger soil management plan (i.e., compost, minerals, flora and fauna). It’s too direct for me, though. You have to be really careful not to overdo it. It’s pretty hard to screw up seed meal or compost.

If you mean “safe for your kids†in the sense that they are given access to fruits and vegetables the way nature intended– with all the flavor and nutrition that they can have– I’d go primarily organic. It’s not just about inputs and outputs, either. In my opinion, for your children to understand how nature works– the plants themselves, the pollinators, the pests, the soil cycle, etc.– teaching them that veggies come from this magic blue powder isn’t exactly “safe†in the larger sense. And how many people explain “son, the blue powder comes from the combination of ammonia and carbon dioxide produced in the extraction of zombies from uranium†(that’s maybe not right; I really don’t know) when they dump this stuff on their plants? I can tell my kids “this is chicken poop… it comes out the backside of a chicken… this is compost… it comes from over there (pointing)…†Everyone gets it.

So, is Miracle Gro good or bad? I’m sorry; I don’t think that’s a valid question. Should you use it? Only you can answer that, but I hope I’ve presented reasons you’d steer clear. Unfortunately, for millions of people, the promise of just sticking something in the dirt, pouring magic water on it, and having giant fluorescent green plants pop up is much more attractive than the process required to establish and maintain an organic garden– analyzing and amending soils, learning about nutrients and deficiencies, allowing the soil and predator balance to develop and stabilize over time, etc.