The bully in the garden

There’s gardening news to share, and also, it’s my Mom’s birthday today (Happy Birthday, Mom!), so I had myriad other plans for today’s installment of gardening fun and frivolity.

But one of my legacies from Mom (and from Dad, but it’s not his birthday…) is that I am quick to anger and subsequent action when injustice is present. Mom’s fostered that, and lives it herself — after all, as she’ll tell you, she’s an Oberlin graduate.  So instead of a sappy birthday post, or a chatty update about what’s happening in my yard, I ask you to bear with me as I raise a little awareness.

It seems that The Man has infringed in the gardening world. The good women of Garden Rant brought to my attention that Scotts Miracle-Gro Company has sued TerraCycle, a company that I believe I also discovered through Garden Rant. TerraCycle may be one of the world’s only negative-impact companies: they create eco-friendly garden products by letting worms munch on garbage, then selling the worm poop in a variety of different incarnations (seed starter, fertilizer, etc.). They package their product in recycled plastic bottles gleaned from the abundance of soda ingested in this country every day. They even help charities raise money by collecting said bottles, which TerraCycle then reuses to hold their fine product.

Scotts is apparently claiming that the TerraCycle product packaging could confuse consumers who might mistake WORM POOP on a label for TOXIC CHEMICALS. Scotts thinks consumers are stupid, and so they’re taking TerraCycle to the mat.

I remember thinking, when I learned about the company last year, that TerraCycle had a brilliant concept and what seemed to be a fabulous product. I meant to locate some locally to use on the garden this year, but hadn’t managed to do it yet. Now, I’m resolved — I’ll find some this weekend, and if no one carries it locally, I’m ordering it instead. This is a business model and a company worth supporting, and I’d hate to see them brought down by The Man.

So…check out TerraCycle’s blog about the lawsuit, and if you’re moved to action, I encourage you to buy some of their product to use on your garden. Think of it as a birthday present to all the Moms out there (but especially to mine) — you’ll be saving the planet, supporting something cool, fostering justice in our society AND sticking it to a bully, all at the same time.

15 Responses to “The bully in the garden”

  1. 1 Rick May 4, 2007 at 8:10 am

    Dear Inadvertent Gardener,

    Thank you for your support. TerraCycle Products can be found at Home Depot (broadest selection of products – US and CA), Wal-Mart (US and CA), Target, and other fine stores (including many CVS). Check our store locator in the upper right corner of our (non-lawsuit) home page at

    See for other actions you can take to support TerraCycle.

    The TerraCycle Team

    PS: Happy Birthday Mom!! And many happy returns.

  2. 2 steven May 4, 2007 at 4:09 pm

    I sincerely hope that Miracle-Gro loses this suit and is slapped with a countersuit if TerraCycle can prove damages.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, overuse of Miracle-Gro causes accelerated growth that leaves a plant vulnerable to insects which then needs to be treated with insecticides. It’s a vicious circle.

    I’m going to buy some Worm Poop just to spite Scott’s and I hope this suit costs Miracle-Gro untold millions in sales and good will. Stupid lawyers.

  3. 3 Amy Stewart May 4, 2007 at 9:51 pm

    Dude, how did you rate a comment from TerraCycle??? Cool!

  4. 4 kate May 4, 2007 at 11:39 pm

    This is such an outrageous story – it boggles the mind that Scotts would have seen Terra-Cycle as a threat. The negative publicity they’ve received will do far more damage to them, than Terra-Cycle ever would have!

    Good post.

  5. 5 Sally May 5, 2007 at 7:54 am

    Actually, it brought Terra-Cycle to my attention, as I imagine as did others. So, in the short run at least, it will do wonders for Terra-Cycle’s bottom line. I know I’m getting some.

  6. 6 jenjen May 5, 2007 at 10:02 am

    I had never even heard of terra-cycle before the gardenblog community exploded with this news. Its literally everywhere, and in a twisted way might be a good thing because lots of people like you are going to buy it, and people like me who might never have heard of it are going to look for it. Scotts must be incredibly stupid. Go Terra-cycle!

  7. 7 Ruth May 6, 2007 at 1:37 am

    Happy Birthday! I couldn’t help but smile at your mishaps; I’ve had many a moment like that myself.

  8. 8 inadvertentgardener May 6, 2007 at 4:51 pm

    Rick, thanks so much for stopping by and for the helpful info on how to find your products. I hope this case does wonders for your bottom line as more and more gardeners learn about your products!

    Steven, I think your response is highly appropriate. Buy more worm poop!

    Amy, I was a little flabbergasted…and honored! I’m always happy to have the TerraCycle peeps drop by. :-)

    Kate, thanks for the comment — I’m hoping all the publicity helps TerraCycle out — they deserve it.

    Sally, I hope the bottom line assistance helps longer than just in the short-term. Of course, the proof is in how the product works. I can’t wait to try it!

    JenJen, I’m definitely not holding out much hope for Scotts in the public relations battle on this one. Nor would I want to. They make no sense…

    Ruth, thanks for stopping by and for the blog-birthday wishes!

  9. 9 jre May 24, 2007 at 11:19 pm

    I’m with you. This whole thing annoys me. I started a website to vent. I think I’ll send back the miracle gro products I have. BTW I live in MA and put my tomatoes in 2 weeks ago. They don’t look so hot, kind of yellowish leaves. Did I put them in to early?


  10. 10 inadvertentgardener May 25, 2007 at 8:15 am

    JRE, I’m going to check out your site right now — thanks for pointing it out to me. As for the tomatoes, it shouldn’t be too early, but yellowish leaves don’t sound good. Is it possible that they’re getting too much water? I just ask…I don’t really have any good theories…

  11. 11 TerraCycle June 12, 2007 at 10:20 am

    Here’s a link to TerraCycle’s appearance on BBC World News regarding the lawsuit with Miracle-Gro.. check it out!

  12. 12 inadvertentgardener June 12, 2007 at 11:20 am

    Thanks for posting that link, Terracycle Folks! (Tip for visitors: To get to the YouTube clip, just click on the linked name in the comment from TerraCycle just above this comment.

    Or, just click here.

  1. 1 » David and Goliath Trackback on May 4, 2007 at 3:56 pm
  2. 2 Business travel shorts « The Inadvertent Gardener Trackback on July 16, 2007 at 11:04 pm
  3. 3 Quoted through clenched teeth « The Inadvertent Gardener Trackback on September 22, 2007 at 12:13 am

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