I generally avoid using quick fix chemical fertilizers in the garden. I prefer to enrich the soil using compost, manure and other organic materials that feed the soil organisms slowly, thereby giving a slow and steady long term boost to the plants.
Building good soil is probably the single most important thing a gardener can do in my opinion. If you take good care of your soil, it will provide for you! I use fish emulsion fertilizer, liquid seaweed or homemade compost tea if I need a faster acting boost for seedlings and other plants.
But now I have yet another good reason to avoid the popular Scotts Miracle-Gro fertilizers. It seems that from 2005 to 2008 Scotts sold birdseed that was coated with an insecticide that is toxic to fish, birds and other wildlife. Scott recently pleaded guilty to federal charges and agreed to pay $4.5 million in fines. You can read about the settlement at Rodale.com and at the Columbus Dispatch .
I don’t know about the rest of you, but personally I am going to add all Scott’s products to my ever-growing list of products and companies to boycott. I mean, if I can’t trust them to sell bird seed that won’t kill the birds, which of their products can I trust? I’m unlikely to be using many of their products anyway. My idea of lawn care is to make it go away, and plant something else!
Rodale has some good tips about how to provide conditions favorable for birds in your backyard, including leaving the stems and seeds of your perennial flowers intact for winter time food and cover. Not cleaning up the flowers is something I can whole-heartedly support!