Should I trust Dr. Earth?

Most of us were taught from an early age to trust doctors (I mean the medical kind).  They’re supposed to be smart, committed, and loving, and most of the doctors I’ve had over my life have fit that mold.  And Earth, what an awesome name!  It makes me think of dark, warm, rich soil in the spring.  Damn it makes me feel good!  So it’s no wonder that some clever marketer thought up the name Dr. Earth and slapped it on a bunch of organic products, because hey, if you can’t trust Dr. Earth who can you trust?  When I see a Dr. Earth package I want to buy it!  I mean look at it:

How can you not trust this guy?  But as most wise shoppers have learned over the years, whenever you purchase a product you should look at the ingredients to see what you’re buying.  This product includes Probiotics — microbes which are probably dead when you buy the fertilizer — or which may not even be compatible with your soil.  It is a "balanced" fertilizer meaning it has equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium — which means too much phosphorus and potassium.  And finally, while it does have a number of good renewable ingredients, it also contains bat guano and rock phosphate, two ingredients which are non-renewable and which damage the earth when they are mined.

You can’t judge a book by it’s cover, or, apparently, a fertilizer, by the cute farmer-looking guy on the front of the package.

69 thoughts on “Should I trust Dr. Earth?

  1. To build on Steve’s comment – apparently “farth” refers to “digested food material.” Maybe some truth in advertising here…

  2. Does it really say “certified for LIFE”? I think the marketing team has gone a little overboard and to me the product looks like snake oil. But if it is indeed a substandard product, then I guess they have nothing to lose. I much prefer Scotts “Natural Lawn Food”. No marketing gimmicks on package, just a decent organic-based fertilizer (in this case animal by-product based). And very low in heavy metals from the samples that I’ve seen analyzed, something to consider when picking a fertilizer.

  3. Ha!! @Steve A. and Linda.

    As an aside, was anyone else traumatized when they changed the guy on the Brawny paper towels label? They went from mustachioed mountain man to…HGTV host.

  4. Jeff, why is bat guano considered non-renewable? I mean they are creating it daily. Is it that we are harvesting it quicker than the bats can produce or just the process of obtaining it is more destructive than other methods of fertilizer collections?

  5. Hi Gil, Exactly — they’re harvesting faster than the bats can produce. Plus, guano is actually aged manure, not fresh. And yes, the process of collecting it is destructive.

  6. Bat guano is also the main nutrient in a lightless environment for cave critters (weird blind beetles, e.g.) dependent on it for survival. Harvesting the guano destroys the ecology of the cave.

  7. Deirdre, that’s the old default boilerplate for Office products. I don’t know why this happens wi
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    th the blog sometimes. Try cutting and pasting the first paragraph from Jeff’s post and insert it into the text area instead. Then add a sentence that invites people to click on the link to read more. That’s what I do.

  8. dr earths products are superior to anything out on the market it is fully organic has 14 species of benifical bacteria and probiotics not to mention asw far as quality organic fertilizers go milos dr earths is the best and the best price at only one dollar a pound to the guy useing scotts chicken shit is in your mix talk about all bad it is no longer considered a good source of npk its a cheap source a crappy diseas infested one

  9. Dr. Earth has, in my experience, always been a great product. Many Dr. Earth products contain beneficial bacteria and fungi. Both of which do wonders for your plants. Like prevent seed rot, or disease brought on by transplanting, and make both water and nutrients more available to the host plant. I don’t think you could get a much better over the counter product.

  10. I have personally used many of the Dr Earth products and have had very good success with all of them. Good product. Good marketing. Good for the planet. I think Jeff
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    could be trying to smear the good doctor.

  11. I have been using Dr. Earth for 20 years and have had nothing but the most superlative results. I have seen this small company grow from a few nurseries to a national leader in organics. Milo is one of the most compassionate gardeners and innovators the lawn and garden industry has seen in fifty years. And Jeff Gillman, the guy who started this forum is a dumb ass motivated to sell his own crappy written books. I couldn’t get past the first chapter of his lousy book “The Truth about Organic Gardening”. It’s ironic, a really ugly man who is marketing himself and books accuses a successful and handsome man of being a clever marketer for coming up with a great name and does not claim to be a doctor in any way. Read the package Jeff – the name of the company is Dr. Earth, Inc. I just double checked on the package in my garage before I posted my comment. Bat guano and soft rock phosphate are your gripes! This is the most innovative company in this industry and should not be scrutinized for being successful and making the world a better place. We need more companies to succeed in this really hard economy and employ more Americans like a small company such as Dr. Earth. Your cynicism and dogmatic style is what makes you a total failure. I will continue to buy as much Dr. Earth as I need and I hope all gardeners will be able to see right through the B.S you write. Because your the biggest marketer of all, but a complete failure! Go start writing another book no one will want to finish because you are a total turn off!

  12. Hi Gina. Usually we delete comments that make personal attacks, but we decided to let your post go. I’m sorry you don’t like my writing or my looks, but I’m just calling them as I see them. I do think that Dr. Earth has some good products — but not this one. Yes, bat guano and soft rock phosphate are my gripes — they are not environmentally friendly and, as far as I’m concerned, don’t belong in organic products. The pro-biotic portion of this product is probably also useless. I encourage Dr. Earth to do what’s right for the environment and his buyers and stop using these ingredients. Now that would be innovative!

  13. Jeff- You at least have the decency to leave my post up and not delete it for the sake of promoting yourself. For that, I will go out to my recycle bin and retrieve your book, dust it off and put it back on my book shelf. But you are still a hypocrite, you attacked Dr. Earth and Milo first, a company I truly love and believe in. You went as far as posting a picture of this product with its founder on it and called him “cute & a clever marketer”. I was shocked and obviously angry when I stumbled on your forum yesterday because you are clearly attempting to defame a brand and its creator, when you are a professor and should behave accordingly. I am a retired attorney who specialized in patents and trademarks and if Dr. Earth put our firm on retainer I would have had you in litigation long ago. You are a well known person who is a published author and an educator and clearly have an impact of consumer behavior. I am positive that Dr. Earth is not aware of this forum because they would protected themselves long ago or pursued litigation for “defamation” of brand and character.
    Why don’t you go after the real polluters like Miracle Grow, Espoma, Kellogg’s, EB Stone who sell organic products in one division and sell chemicals in another, they deserve your attention much more than Dr. Earth. And the photo on top, really poor taste on your part. However, if you do write another book I will purchase it and give it my best shot. Jeff, be fair and do the right thing! I need to pay attention to more important matters so this my good bye to you.

  14. Hi Gina, I respect your opinion, but I disagree. No matter how good a company is (and, as I have said, I acknowledge that Dr. Earth does make some good products), that doesn’t give them the right to deliver a bad product. What I do is similar to what Consumer Reports does in that I present the best information that I can regarding a product. If that information makes a product look bad then so be it — they produced the product, not me. It is my job to talk about the science behind the products and I will do that irrespective of who produces the products. I have attacked Scotts-Miracle Gro and many other companies both large and small for their products and will continue to do so. If I were running scared of litigious companies I wouldn’t be doing my job.

  15. Jeff – what is your job? you do sell your books for profit don’t you? Or are you running a non profit organization solely and using the university as your platform to disseminate your opinions? you can see how this puts you in a very vulnerable grey area open for scrutiny. It’s obvious we do not agree, and that’s fine. I simply think it’s a matter of time before one of these big companies like Scott’s figures out how you personally make a profit and has litigators on staff, or very deep pockets and make’s your life miserable and gives you the same treatment you give them, by defaming your character!

  16. Dr. Earth is co-packed by Old Castle on the East Coast. They do not have an organic approval by any thrird party organization like OMRI so there is no over sight of what goes in the bag.

  17. Brandon, big deal! OMRI is a paid for organization. You should read the list of allowable ingredients before you comment and try to sound educated, besides, we are talking about fertilizer not soil!

  18. Wow – amazingly sad when seeing all these post with the negativity; after all we are all entitled our own personal opinions. I have been using Dr. Earth for several years and I live in the Midwest where we tend to lag behind with new innovatio
    ns. Compared to other products Dr. Earth base is fish bone meal and not poultry waste like other brands. I am not an expert on longevity of fertilizers but I have seen a longer consistent release of nutrients with the fish bone meal base than the poultry waste. As for the probiotics it is probably the new buzz word. You see it in vitamins, fertilizers and as stand alone products. Healthy soils will have these beneficial microorganisms present already. However, soils that have been abused by traditional products they might be lacking. Do they work, good question and I am sure only a third party validation team will be able to discern this for us. Dr. Earth stands on solid principles of using less instead of more with renewable ingredients. We can all agree that not everything will have the non existent foot print that we like. Oil as we know is a greatly debated topic if it is really a renewable resource, all dependent on who you ask. Plastic is oil based, the fuel in the car that you drove to your favorite garden center is oil based. Nothing is perfect. After all we want products that we can use and feel good about them. If we truly had zero foot print product they will most likely be priced too high that the average gardener would not be able to afford.

    As for the use of the word “Doctor” is it misleading? Yeah it can be perceived that way. The Scotts Company has recently been slapped with fines due to mislabeling of pesticides. All labels need to spell it out for the novice gardener. Stop using words as “complete” if you know anything about plant nutrition we know that this is false.

  19. Thank you to Jeff Gillman for bringing to light the fact that not all “probiotics” are uniformly good, or suited to the particular environment in our gardens. A garden is an ecosystem, and the microorganisms living in our soil have adapted to the conditions there. How does Milo Shamus (aka “Dr Earth”) know that the microbes in his box will thrive equally well in an Arizona dry garden or an east coast bog? How could they? Or that these “champion microbes” are still alive when they come out of the box? I am a Master Gardener and during our training learned that UCSD examined a number of fertilizers which claimed to have “beneficial microbes” in them. They were unable to find any viable organisms in any of the products they tested.

    My biggest objection to Dr Earth is their claim that their products are “People and Pet Safe”. It’s not true. When my dog was a puppy, I left a box of his All Purpose Fertilizer on the lawn when the phone rang, only to return and find it tipped over and half gone. Since I didn’t know how much he had eaten, or what it would do to him, I called the company for advice. The receptionist, a young man, assured me that I had nothing to worry about. He said, “It’s totally safe, nothing in there can hurt him”. And I especially remember this: “You don’t even have to call the vet”. That turned out to be very bad advice. It was one of those blazing hot days, and the fertilizer snack had left my dog with no appetite for food or water. He wouldn’t touch anything, and by day’s end was so lethargic that I did take him to the vet. He had become severly dehydrated and they said would not have made it if I hadn’t brought him in for sub q fluids.

    In the meantime, I also checked the label and saw that the product was registered in Oregon. I called Oregon to find out what the heavy metals were, and discovered that, in fact, my product was not registered with them. Only one of Dr Earth’s products was, but they claimed on all their boxes that all of their products were registered in Oregon. I also called Dr Earth back to tell them what had happened with my dog, and asked that they stop advising people that their products were “Pet Safe”. This time Milo Shamus spoke to me, and asked if my dog was old or a puppy. I said he was a puppy and his response was “Well, we’ve had a few problems, but one was a dog who was really old, and the others were puppies, you can’t always predict how much they’ll eat, or how it will affect them”. I emphasized that that’s why you don’t make blanket statements claiming, in bold letters, that your products is “People and Pet Safe”. Or tell folks on the phone not to call the vet. He promised me that he would change the label, and, obviously, he hasn’t honored his word (this was about 10 years ago).

    I have also noticed that while Milo Shamus claims to have done extensive research to come up with his products, he never mentions what kind of degree he has, or whether he actually graduated from college.

    I think he is a great marketer, and he has captivated his audience who would be wise to examine his claims a little more carefully.

  20. I don’t mean to belabor this, but I couldn’t help but wonder if Gina Z is aware of the relationship between Kellog’s and Dr Earth. She said “Why don’t you go after the real polluters like Miracle Grow, Espoma, Kellogg’s, EB Stone who sell organic products in one division and sell chemicals in another, they deserve your attention much more than Dr. Earth. ” Dr Earth used Kellog’s as their distributor for some time: “Dr. Earth announced on June 1st that they are discontinuing their long standing exclusive marketing and distribution relationship with Kellogg Garden Products. Dr. Earth and Kellogg’s have worked together since 1999, developing the organic products market here on the west coast. Dr. Earth has announced a new national relationship with Commerce Corporation based in Baltimore, MD. Commerce will be the nationwide distributor for Dr. Earth products and should have the product stocked in all Commerce warehouses as of July 1st.
    Kellogg Garden Products announced at the same time that effective July 1st they will no longer be distributing the Dr. Earth line and instead will be marketing a complete line of organic products under the Gardner & Bloome label to replace the Dr. Earth line”. http://www.nnba.info/node/372
    As for E.B. Stone, in my humble opinion, their approach to advising customers on the pet safety of their products is more honest and useful than Dr Earth’s: “Caution: Keep organic fertilizers out of the reach of pets. Many of the ingredients contained in organic fertilizers are attractive to animals. Ingestion in small doses should not be harmful, but because of the addition of beneficial microbial inoculants which care should be taken to prevent exposure to pets. Follow the label directions, and thoroughly mix the product into the soil. Water well immediately following fertilizer application to help incorporate and activate the fertilizer” http://www.ebstone.org/petsafety.php
    And no, I do not work for E.B. Stone, or any other fertilizer company. I am a stay at home mom and a botany student.

  21. Gina and Mike, I’ve removed your comments. Our one rule about commenting is no personal attacks. If you can repost your comments in a respectful manner without insulting either the author of this post or other commenters, that’s fine.

  22. Linda,
    I noticed you also removed Laura’s post from last night. You have removed three peoples posts because you don’t like what you see…the truth! This whole blog is a sham and Jeff and who ever you are are have no credibility. I will buy even more Dr. Earth and go out of my way to make sure everyone is aware that Jeff is on someones payroll to discredit Dr. Earth. I will also make sure to go out of my way to shame his books. Lisa is obviously working with you two. I am going on F.B next and Twtter to disseminate this message, and you can delete what I wrote, but I took a snapshot last night of the screen and I am taking another now since nobody can trust this blog. Please remove this post so I can prove to all readers that you guys are a scam.

  23. Umm, Gina, are you sure you are ok? Your postings smack of religious ranting, not measured thinking. I haven’t seen this product in Canada, but really, pro-biotics in fertilizer? If it were even scientifically possible, my question would have to be WHY? The label on this product appears to be full of marketing mumbo-jumbo, useless additives, and inaccurate information, at best.

    I am a master gardener, and would feel ridiculous espousing such guff. “Chacun a son gout”, as we say in the french language – translation – to each their own taste. You can believe what you like; I find Jeff’s postings thought provoking, worthy of consideration, and more reliable than the marketing gibberish proffered by the product you are defending.

    Rant on folks, you seem to be suffering from a typical American malady – paranoia and persecution complex. That goes for you too, Mike; I can see the posts just fine. Hopefully gardening season starts soon and you can channel your energies to something productive again, with or without the crazy fertilizer you seem to like so much.

  24. If I may comment from a garden retailers point of view.
    Before starting my retail gardening caree
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    r, I was employed in the landscape construction sector in northern Nevada as a designer /estimator. During the 14 years of working for responsible* landscape construction companies, I started using a mychorrizae fert product made by M Roots at the time of install on many of my projects.
    In the region we worked in, the soils were uniformly pretty poor unless we were doing a job at a McMansion down by a river/riparian area or former pastureland, then it just tended to have cobble but decent nutritious silty-loam. Whatever, the damage caused by construction and laughable site prep, inevitably left a sterile ‘surface of the moon’ to work with. ( Previous to MRoots we were using the hard PlantTabs, which we soon discovered did not break down very well, if at all.)
    With the introduction of the MRoots, plants actually showed growth, even in mid spring/early summer when it was still quite chilly and most plants just sat in their holes – seemingly for years. The warranty replacement work was actually tracked on our jobs and the savings became significant. I became sold on this stuff. It did work.
    Flash forward to 6 years ago when I made the transition into retail gardening and selling the Dr Earth line. It was easy to order as we also sold Kellogg’s bagged products. I did think the packaging was a bit hokey, and the line was too big, I mean there is a fert for every plant it seems! Personally I like (and still order in) the ‘Starter Fert’ which is a 2-4-2, great for everything IMO. 2 years ago after the corporate owner closed our garden center, myself and one other employee now lease it. We have discared the Dr Earth line (except for the 2-4-2) and now bring in a more local product w/ mychorrizae and other microbes sold under the Concentrates label, Concentrates Organic All-Purpose 5-5-3. (http://www.concentratesnw.com/products/Retail%20products.htm) We sell this by the # in our bulk amendment section. I am pretty sure this is made by St Paul / Marion Ag Fertilizer company (http://www.marionag.com/organic.htm). Anyways, good stuff. We are getting some wonderful feedback about it from our home gardeners…many of whom regularly take home blue ribbons at the county fair for their produce.
    * Responsible, as in we actually gave a shit about our work. Many folks in management had hort degrees, and the companies spent dollars on training up the staff in proper planting, pruning etc; it wasn’t all big trucks + rakin’ in the bucks as id often the perception out there.
    Lastly, re. the sick puppy: I have lived on a farm most of my adult life (25+ years) Dogs eat weird stuff. Dogs get sick. Take some responsibility for the situation and don’t leave stuff out puppies will want to “try”. Not flaming, just saying…dogs are dogs and will eat anything, esp. poopy-dead stinky stuff.

  25. Heidi,
    I hear you loud and clear and I totally agree with you, we are ranting and raving and yes, I am of sound body and mind, but I am also offended that these people post things and hurt good companies reputation recklessly. How would you like it if this Linda lady removed your post because she did not like the French remark, which I think is brilliant! and Karen above, has great perspective about the whole matter. This blog has become better than a soap opera and I will continue to monitor it regularly to make sure Jeff, Lisa and Linda do not post things that are reckless. Mike- great idea about taking a snapshot of the page, I will do that after every post to keep these people honest. You must all admit though that it really seems like they are being paid by Kellogg’s to disseminate this information! This platform is not fair, they pick and choose what fits them and their intentions well, and the others they remove because they do not like the sound of it…we are in America! we have freedom of speech, Jeff started this blog and when the water gets hot he gets this Linda lady in to remove the posts because he is probably running from a legal accusation that he is using federal funds from the university to promote his books and I suspect Linda is involved to a certain degree. Why would she remove 3 posts unless it is financially motivated? Thank you Karen for calling Lisa what she really is…its absurd to blame a company because her puppy ate the fertilizer…these poor people at Dr. earth are being accused of ruining the world because they use some bat guano and a puppy ate some fertilizer and got sick….Please all readers; read Lisa’s post and tell me it seems like a home owner to you! She has more details about contracts between Dr. Earth and Kellogg’s than any one of us can ever have access to…she is obviously on the payroll of Kellogg’s! And Heidi, Mike is mad because she removed his posts from last night, what you see now is not what was on the blog last night. Probiotic(tm) is a trade mark that represents the living components in the Dr. earth products and used to break down the organic materials. Dr. earth does not claim that these microbes or myccorhizae will live forever and adapt to every soils type for perpetuity, they claim that these microbes break down the organic fertilizers they are infused with, and then, many will survive the native environment, and many will expire after the organic food source has been exhausted, so yes, probiotic for soils and fertilizers do work, if they did not, why does every fertilizer and soil manufacturer in America use them now after Milo of Dr. earth came up with the invention in the early nineties. just FYI.

  26. Mike and Gina – you both need to just calm down. Here’s the reality of the situation:

    1) You are welcome to repost your deleted comments if you remove the attacks you made on other commenters and the post author. (You’ll note I told you the same thing on the 16th.)

    2) It’s really easy to find out who we are. All you have to do is click on the link on the right-hand “Browse by category” menu that says “Who we are.”

    3) It’s *our* blog. So yes, we get to decide what gets deleted. We have one rule – no personal attacks. If you break the rule, then we will delete your comment.

  27. Linda,
    It is your blog, that’s true.
    However, if you want to be viewed as a credible source of information it is not wise to “big bother” the posted contents. Here is how most will view it. Jeff started the atta
    ck on a company. People that love this company defended it. You and Jeff did not like what you read. You deleted it. The very nature of this blog was an “attack”, so why does it surprise you when people put their guards up! Gina, Mike and many others obviously love Dr. Earth and they are entitled to their hostile onions when necessary. Please read the title of Jeff’s blog, “Should I trust Dr. Earth?” and then he goes into a dissertation of why he shouldn’t! He started the mud slinging unprofessionally and should be able to take some of the heat he and you put out. I love Dr. Earth like Gina. I will continue to buy Dr. Earth. I will continue to recommend it to all of my clients because it is the most innovative and effective product line I have ever used. I have never met or heard Milo speak like Gina but he seems like a very smart and compassionate person. How many “evil” people get into the “organic gardening” business! just saying.

  28. Jeff,
    Just my observation.
    Like many others who are merely trying to prove their point and influence their base, you choose to combine negative words and phrases like “This product includes Probiotics — microbes which are probably dead when you buy the fertilizer — or which may not even be compatible with your soil.” We all like to “prove” our points sometimes but I am just wondering if you or Dr. Scott bother to actually test product you obviously have a personal dislike for before posting your negative statements. You do have access to microscopes and other University testing facilities after all. Perhaps side by side trials, accepting anecdotal observations as evidence if you don’t want to spend research funding. Best of luck with your blog but please do some fair research before you defame other products or scientists.

  29. Actually I don’t personally dislike Dr. Earth products — just this one — and the reason is primarily because of the use of the non-renewable resources rock phosphate and bat guano. Furthermore, the application of equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (in other words a balanced fertilizer) is not usually recommended because it adds too much phosphorus to soils possibly creating eutrophication problems. These are my major problems with this product, though the use of microbes is, as I pointed out, questionable (and there is plenty of research out there supporting this, some of which Dr. Chalker -Scott has reviewed in other articles). Please tell me why I shouldn’t voice my concerns when a manufacturer does something that is inappropriate for the consumer and the environment.

  30. I have tested Dr. Earth against other organic fertilizers (E.B. Stone, Gardner & Bloome, Foxfarm, Espoma, Whitney Farms,and Jobe’s and it compares quite favorably. The criticisms seem like petty quibbles.

  31. Dan, Dr. Gillman’s points have to do with environmental degradation and unsustainable practices, not fertilizer trials. His concerns are hardly “petty quibbles.”

  32. Jeff,
    I wonder what you do to the companies you actually don’t like if you like this one.
    20-20-20 and other equally balanced fertilizers have been on the market for decades. Dr. Earth has over 25 formulas from what I can gather in their website so we consumers have a choice to buy a product with little phosphorous if we choose. Some of us want a balanced product and do really well with it such as the Life fertilizer. Also, I would agree with your argument if it was a water soluble fertilizer like miracle grow that released all primary nutrients at one time, but these are totally 100% water “insoluble” which means the P2O5 will not wash away into the water table. The Probiotic component breaks the materials down and releases it slowly at a rate the actively growing roots can absorb the majority of it. They are talking about breaking down “fish bones” for phosphorous and that is not a danger to our water, so your argument is really inaccurate and weak.

  33. I wonder how Jeff would feel if we started a blog and titled it “can I trust Jeff Gillman?” and then gave every reason under the sun of why we did not like him or his books, I bet he would have a better perspective of what its like to attack companies and people. And Dan, unless he is using his personal equipment to test products I don’t think its an ethical practice. He is obviously benefiting from State and federal funding that is allocated to the university to promote himself and his books. As I have stated before, it is only a matter of time before a big company like Scott’s figures this out and goes after the university and him for fraud.

  34. Hi Gina and Mike, Thank you so much for your thoughts and for being polite. Obviously we have different values as regards the environment. I refuse to say that a product is a good organic fertilizer when it uses nonrenewable ingredients. Obviously you think I should overlook this. Sorry, I can’t.

  35. Jeff,
    Lets start another 8 blogs please. I think that you should be fair to all. Kellogg’s, Whitney Farms,E.B. Stone, Gardner & Bloome, Espoma, Fox Farms, Down To Earth, Jobe’s and probably 50 more companies use “bat Guano” and “rock phosphate” as ingredients, yet you make no mention of them. If you are a fair and balanced person you will perform your due diligence and academic ethical obligations and post a lateral and fair platform of opinions. The Monsanto guy above will start growing a third eye soon so I take his comment with little gravity.

  36. Hi Laura, All I can say to that is that you must not follow my writing or speaking very much. I’ve complained about these things before.

  37. Jeff,
    You said above “these things”, I am asking about specific brands and companies that utilize bat guano and rock phosphates. Have you created a blog about them? If so, please post the direct link for us to find them so we can confirm for ourselves. I want to see Kellogg’s, E.B.Stone, Espoma etc…mentioned by name as you did with Dr. Earth. Then, do the negative heading like “Should I trust Kellogg’s?” and get into your dissertation of why you cant. How do you feel about bio-solids? You know Kellogg’s is one of the largest sellers of bio-solids on the west coast. They label their products as “organic since 1925″ and the bag is loaded with human waste! talk about misleading consumers!! This is totally disgusting and deserves a blog from Jeff Gillman.

  38. Ummmm….Actually I’m in favor of reusing human waste….with some caveats of course, we need to insure that heavy metals are below certain thresholds, etc.

  39. Unbelievable!!! so you would grow your food in human waste? Jeff, I can see that any sound thinking organic consumer will be more willing to use rock powders and bat manure than agree with your perspective. I need to remind myself sometimes of how universities get their funding. Its all good my friend!!the blog makes complete sense now, and I am crystal clear on why Dr. Earth is being abused and singled out.

  40. Laura and Mike, here is some information from the University of Georgia on biosolids. (I chose them because they aren’t associated with the blog, but nearly every agricultural university has a similar research program.) Here’s the first paragraph:
    “Farmers have known for centuries that animal manures spread on pastures and cropland can improve soil fertility. In the 1920s, farmers began to use sludge from municipal wastewater treatment plants as a fertilizer. Through decades of research, the scientific and agricultural communities have come to understand that municipal sludge or “biosolids” contain valuable nutrients and organic matter that improve the soil in a way similar to animal manures. It is important to understand that biosolids are not raw sewage. Biosolids are organic solids that have been treated to stabilize organic matter and reduce disease-causing organisms or pathogens.” You can read more at http://www.caes.uga.edu/publications/pubDetail.cfm?pk_id=6978.

  41. Linda,
    Please let Jeff answer Laura’s question before you jump in with articles of justification produced by your like minded peers . I want to know too if Jeff would grow his food in human waste? Jeff, you would serve your kids a salad grown in human waste right? that’s what you implied above. also, you have still not provided any links to articles you have written naming any other companies that use bat guano and rock phosphates…you keep diffusing and d
    19e0
    eflecting the direct questions we are asking you.

  42. Hi Gina, I’m sorry that you see my posts as deflecting and diffusing. In terms of the human waste, I do use milorganite in the turf bordering my vegetable garden from which my children eat.

  43. Gina, just for the record: I have never had the pleasure of meeting either Jeff Gilman or Linda Chalker-Scott, and while I am flattered that you think so, I do not work with them. The information about Kellog’s I found on the internet, and you will see the weblinks in my post-it’s not proprietary information. I don’t work for them either. Karen, I agree 100% – dogs will eat all kinds of strange things! My point exactly. I do not blame Dr Earth for my own stupidity in rushing off and leaving the fertilizer where my dog could get it. (I don’t remember what happened, the phone rang or somebody fell down). I do blame them though, for encouraging people to take a casual approach by printing “People and Pet Safe” at the top of every product label, including their insecticides and fungicides. I think that’s irresponsible and misleading – especially when they followed that with advice not to worry or call the vet. Milo Shammus ruined his credibility with me when he promised to take it off the label and then didn’t. (Twice: when I called some months later and asked him why it was still on there he said those were products that had been in the pipeline and that it would be gone from their label once they were sold). As for the microbes, I agree that they are an important part of any garden, but I think you are more likely to find viable organisms in a shovel of compost or a handful of dirt – at a much better price. Just my humble homeowner opinion.

  44. I have some questions that perhaps some of you can help me with. I try to take an approach to gardening that is the most healthful to me and my family and the least damaging to the environment. I sometimes have trouble figuring out which products to buy. The words “mycorrhizae, beneficial microbes, probiotic, natural & organic” seem to be following the word “green” as a great way to get people to buy something. I’m trying to separate the snake oil from the ‘real thing’.

    I know that mycorrhizae refers to an association between a fungus and the roots of a vascular plant, and that the relationship is beneficial to both of them in many ways. But there seem to be almost as many types of mycorrhizal fungi as there are plants, how do the manufacturers know which ones to package? Are they host specific?

    If they are selected because they’re stronger, smarter, faster, can introducing these new fungi disrupt the balance between the microorganisms that are already in my soil? Will they outcompete the native microbes in some way, and does that matter?

    Is there any way for a homeowner without a microscope to tell if the microorganisms they are buying are still alive?

    How do I know if I need to add mycorrhizae to my garden?

    How do I know if a fertilizer that claims to be “natural and organic” is really organic, and does that matter?

    That’s probably too much to answer here, but any light you can shed would be much appreciated. Thank you for the time and effort you put into this blog, and for all of the articles, books, studies and lectures you offer to the gardening public. The information is interesting, science based and very helpful to me.

  45. Thank you Linda! I read your article and it was really helpful. If you wouldn’t mind posting links to Jeff’s articles on packaged mycorrhizal products, I would like to read them too. Thanks

  46. if the mycorrhizae in the blend is so dormant, then I suggest using their POTTING SOIL along with molasses to brew a compost tea and you will find it works well. they use yucca and aloe vera as a soil conditioner that improves the retention of moisture whilst in the bag. this helps preserve beneficial microbes. As far as guano is concerned, it is a far better source than ammoniacal nitrogen or rather than a super phosphate. which can salinate soil and kill the earth. if you get hung up on the mining practice of every organic source than you might as well not buy kelp either. it’s not like they’re using mountain top removal to get to the batcave. you should go outside and disconnect the power to your house because odds are the power company is using natural gas as a part of their fuel source. Fracking is not a good thing. As far as heavy metals are concerned for example “Arsenic” This is a heavy metal that a plant will use, if it’s not used as a chelator then the plant will use what it needs. go ahead and look in a chemistry book and you will see that there are plenty of heavy metals that are trace minerals in your soil. The imbalance or excessive pressence of certain elements but what do you do about Barium, uranium, Radium? all radioactive. so what now. the main reason your soil does what it does is because of Electro conductivity. Or Cation exchange. if you want to get real technical you can refer to the second law of chemistry “The law of definite composition”. which states that a chemical compound, no matter what its origin or method of preparation always has the same composition, that is the same proportions by weight or its contituent elements. If myco’s are abundant and thriving in a good living soil they will make use of higher levels of phosphates no matter the origin! this is why we have pseudo organics. as long as the chemistry is correct then mycos still thrive ammonia is probably most detrimental to early stages of endo myco and other forms of mycos actually use ammonical nitrate which is a by-product of other myco’s hence “N” fixing bacteria. back to guano though, no it is not a long term source of nutes and it is most beneficial
    for 4 weeks, and is fast acting and readily available. Traces minerals are most likely still available. if you are really bent on knowing purchase Organic gardening Encyclopedia Rodale press written by the whole staff of organic gardening magazine. Then take a chemistry class or buy and old textbook along with a biology book. There you have it. you cannot believe sound bites that tell you what they want to sell you. however the cellular integrity of a healthy organically dominant grown plant is super to the expanded cellular structure of a synthetically grown plant. if you do feel the need to use synthetics use in moderation like a steriod booster and always follow up with good myco innoculation to keep your soil balanced. Also avoid chelators because this is one of the real killers to the soil as it is a true synthetic that mimics the function of a good humic acid. if u r experiencing a deficiency in say iron or manganese which r heavy metals! perhaps foliar with a chelator will correct it. and you will still preserve the integrity of your soil. AVOID CHELATORS IN SOIL! Believe what you will bats will continue to poop and we will keep going into their caves with buckets to mine it. If you don’t want to buy it then build some bat houses and protect these creatures but the mexicans and south americans have been mining bat poop for ages! everything else we are doing to our evironment is the problem. Stop eating fast food stop buying processed and GMO food which by the way you’ve been eating for the last 30 yrs unless u eat from your own garden. hell what do I know I’m a HS DROP OUT! BUT I CAN READ! DON’T LET SCHOOL INTERFERE WITH YOU EDUCATION-MARK TWAIN. they just want to sell you the tools build your own!

  47. one more thing, so what if it has a balanced # of 5-5-5? doesn’t it depend on the type of plant u r growing? and that without higher levels of potassium as long as they are appropriate to the plant like for instance basil that K facilates the transfer of carbohydrates in a plants system as well as metabolism? and that the exhaustion of nitrogen through the use of K increases oil production in any herb. and of course S is necessary for increased production of terpenes, and for the up take of nitrogen or the use of it in a plant system. TRANSLOCATION? this is basic. Look up Dr. Cliff Snyder i don’t recall which state he is in but there is a pdf floating around on proper nutrient use and function. which is also addressed in any intro biology book. I am guessing whoever wrote this up has their agriculture department funded by scotts or monsanto. you preach for who pays you and they teach what they want you to endorse. no one endorses me. good luck to all you truth seekers out there and may truth reveal itseld to you through rigorous application and trial and error. and for you potted organic gardens if you want to reuse you soil make sure to ammend with adequate organic matter or u will end up with S deficiency which looks like N deficiency because they go hand in hand. and if you want to treat a S deficiency foliar mgso2 (epsom salt) and apply rock phosphate you should see a recovery with in 3-5 days. mgso2= 1tbs per gal, rock phosphate 1tsp per gal of soil topped with peat or coco. peas and carrots yo

  48. Roland – I really enjoyed reading your post. It is honest and an educated common sense approach to the real world. You sound twice as smart as Jeff and Linda.

    I do not believe Lisa about the Kellogg’s information regarding distribution. I tried to Google it and nothing shows up. I even emailed Dr. Earth and they were shocked that I asked this question. They questioned me and why I would even ask this. The reply I received from them was “we have a confidentiality and ethical obligation to Kellogg’s and can not share this information”, which is why I do not believe you are not a part of someones payroll!

    Lisa- Where did you find this information?

    It is obvious that this blog is financially motivated to discredit a great innovative company and a great leader in the organic movement. I have read Milo’s book and he really gets it! His book has changed my life, I lost 40lbs and have almost eliminated diabetes from my system.

    I think you are being ridiculous by saying he has lost his credibility because he did not change the company packaging after you called twice. Like he has to cater to you and your personal needs, I can read, I can decide what to buy, why should I bash Ford auto for not making a rear view camera in every car? You are either really ignorant or so idealistic that you have blinders on. You are living an unrealistic life.

  49. Jeff & Linda, I think you should read this blog about bio-solds and their health benefits. I hope Jeff’s kids are reading the blog so they can thank him when they are adults and can look back and say, “wow, my dad was so great, he believed so much in the university funding, that he was even willing to sacrifice our health for it” please follow this link from a respected author in Washington. This is good reading if you want the truth.

    http://goodlifenw.blogspot.com/2011/05/from-toilet-to-table-sit-down-and-have.html

  50. Gina – oh my god! I read the blog about bio-solids by Candace Brown from the Washington Post. This is the most disgusting behavior that a company can use to mislead us consumers. There package says “organic since 1925″ and the bag is full of human waste loaded with toxic and persistent heavy metals, hormones, drugs, both legal and prescription, fire retardants, pathogens you wouldn’t even want within a mile of your home! and a plethora of crap that can make us sick, Kellogg’s ais a very dangerous company and should be shut down immediately. If the label said “bio-solids” on it, then I would have no problem as I can read and make my own decisions, but the fact that they mask it by claiming “composted organic material” is what worries me and is totally unethical.

    E.B. Stone is probably the worst company in the lawn and garden industry. They have figured out a way to fly under the radar when their ingredients are a waste stream from the neighboring cities that they also label as “E.B. Stone Organics” note the word “organics” in the name of the company, not a claim for the product! talk about clever!! these guys and Kellogg’s are criminals and should be shut down and forced to change their packaging. I hihhly urge all readers to read Candace Browns blog Gina posted above, it will give all of us a new perspective on what the EPA and Kellogg’s and E.B. Stone are doing to mislead us gardeners and make millions doing it, they make Dr. Earth seem like girl scouts.

  51. I have just returned from a nursery, and was shown DrEarth products when I asked for certified organic dirt. But.. the front said it contained soybean meal- so I walked off in a huff. Probably GMO content, so I couldnt risk buying it.

  52. Hello:
    It is difficult to find good sustainable products. I recently bought Dr. Earth, then decided to search to web to see if the product I bought was any good. Most of the topsoil in my raised garden was bought from an organic farm about two hours away, but it is a long trip to make for some last-,minute window boxes we have for growing herbs. I remember during the 1970s there was a big push on the airwaves for 0 population growth because every person living must use a certain minimal amount of resources to exist. In countries like the U.S. that per capita use is dramatically higher. F
    or some reason you never hear about population growth and its relationship to sustainability anymore. Instead, we squabble over bat guano, etc. I sometimes think we dwell on minutia and miss the big picture. I do, however, appreciate the blogger’s attempt to dispassionately evaluate products. Every little bit helps.

  53. I agree with Mr. Williams, without an OMRI Listing, they could add whatever chemicals they wish. If Dr. Earth is so committed to being a true upright organic product why not have the OMRI Listing? If they are too lazy to do it, then I, along with many others, don’t have the time to investigate the true value of their product and will purchase a product from a company that has shown the commitment and dedication to offering a valid product. I appreciate a company that has taken the time, and the extra steps, for the benefit of their customers, and I spend my money in that direction to show my appreciation as well.

  54. Just in case anyone’s loosing faith in humanity: the average consumer (like me) can easily tell the difference between self-serving fiction and reproducible facts.

  55. Just for the record. Dr. Earth was in business 7 years before OMRI was even conceived. Why are they hiding something if they choose not to pay a certification agency that came around after them. Ignorant consumers are falling for Kellogg’s Gardner & Bloome soils and fertilizers because they bear the OMRI mark (paid for by the way – NOT FREE) thinking its truly organic. Their products are chicken manure based, (not sea based like Dr. Earth), from inhumane chicken factory farms laden with hormones and antibiotics, I don’t care how many certifications a company has, OMRI is not god, nor are they the law! They are being abused and not even knowing it. Call Kellogg’s and ask them where their chicken waste comes from! Dr. Earth is a gourmet company full of life and compassion for the environment and humanity. Remember, Dr. Earth started the whole organic movement and made organics cool to use, then Kellogg’s, Scott’s Miracle Gro, EB Stone, Espoma and the others jumped on the “organic” band wagon for profits! now people are bashing Dr. Earth when they have done more good for mankind than all others combined…lets all be reasonable and have true perspective. Jeff is obviously an intelligent man, but I think this blog is a complete misrepresentation of the truth.

  56. Look up biodynamics, do some research. And then argue about it… Ha ha lol, biodynamics could save the world, all of these companies you stress over access and include questionable organic ingredients. biodynamics has been around since the late 1920s and estimated our gardening and agricultural troubles leading to human health problems in 1929 just before the agricultural revolution.

  57. Thank you to those who responded with first hand experience, comments about ingredients and comparisons to other brands. I think I will give the doctor a try. I have been looking for a good organic fertilizer company. I have not had great results with miracle grow, scotts or any other “home depot” brand fertilizer. As for the others who choose to fight about politics, religion and legalese in a “scientific” gardening forum save your manure for your own gardens.

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