True organic purists view soil differently than most conventional horticulturists. For an organic purist, the soil itself is alive. In other words, soil is made not only of rock and mineral particles, but also living microorganisms. These microorganisms are responsible for breaking down organic matter and converting it into soluble or usable nutrients for the plants.
Today many organic gardeners understand the various advantages of supplementing a soil with additional beneficial microorganisms. However, how and when inoculated soils and soil amendments were first introduced to the gardening marketplace is a mystery to most organic gardeners. Like most industry revolutionizing products, biotic soils and biotic soil amendments started with a vision and a visionary.
In 1992, a 25-year-old named Milo Shammas filed paperwork to make Dr. Earth, Inc. an official company. However, long before that time, Milo’s love of gardening began in the backyard of his parents’ L.A. home. Milo and his mother spent countless hours gardening together. His mother encouraged him to experiment and even allowed him to bury fish remains in the garden as a soil amendment. Milo was only seven years old, but he remembered learning about the Native Americans burying fish carcasses under their corn plants as fertilizer. That spring Milo collected fish remains from local fishermen and buried them in their garden. As the summer progressed, the family’s garden went gangbusters and impressed neighbors and family members. Later in life, Milo would remember that moment as the beginning of his passion for organic horticulture and the birth of Dr. Earth.
Milo enjoyed botany because he found it interesting and it came to him naturally. He made it his elective in school and was getting his hands dirty in the family garden as much as he could. In his early 20s, Milo was continuously experimenting in the garden. Back then, sourcing pure organic ingredients was difficult. Because of the scarce availability of quality organic ingredients, Milo had to mail order organic products from all over the country.
One of Milo’s organic amendment connections in Florida provided him with a product that would be the foundation for his future company and literally change the game of organic horticulture. Of course, neither of them knew this at the time. During one of their regular conversations, they were discussing a microorganism product for cows. This product was designed to better break down a cow’s feed so the cow could receive all of the available nutrients. Milo’s intuition and experience in horticulture led him to believe that if this product could break down organic matter for cows, it could do the same for plants.
He was right. He knew if he could incorporate microbes into soils and fertilizers, the organic matter would be broken down faster and speed up plant growth. At the time, one of the biggest complaints about organic gardening was that it took too long for organic matter to become available to the plants. In other words, plants did not grow as fast as they did when chemical fertilizers were used. Milo believed that if added microbes could accelerate the breaking down of organic matter, he would be able to convince more gardeners to use organic products. For the next few years Milo experimented and refined his products until his biotic soils and biotic soil amendments were ready to be introduced to the gardening industry. Dr. Earth products were the first biotic soils and biotic amendments to hit that market and they changed the face of organic horticulture forever.
The Dr. Earth product line has been improved and expanded since its inception. Today, the Dr. Earth Company offers an extensive line of premium organic soils, fertilizers, amendments and pest control products. Following the company’s commitment to a mission of healing, all Dr. Earth products are certified organic and only come from certified organic sources. To my knowledge, Dr. Earth is the only manufacturer to have exclusively certified organic products within every category, including insecticides and herbicides.
A high quality living soil is the foundation for success in organic horticulture. Dr. Earth’s premium soil line includes nine different soil blends formulated for everything from seedlings to vegetable gardens. There are even specialty soils for acid loving plants, roses and flowers, and fruit trees. All Dr. Earth potting soils are living. In other words, they all contain a special blend of beneficial microorganisms. One of the most impressive soil mixes in the lineup is Dr. Earth’s Home Grown potting soil.
Home Grown potting soil is Dr. Earth’s most advanced and potent soil. It was designed to outperform any other potting soil on earth. This soil is packed full of nutrient-rich organic matter, including valley grown alfalfa meal, wild caught fish bone meal, and cold water kelp. A variety of certified organic ingredients is not the only thing that makes Home Grown potting soil so great. Home Grown potting soil is also packed with a diverse blend of beneficial soil microbes, including both endo- and ecto-mycorrhizae. These powerful beneficial microorganisms break down organic matter and quickly deliver available nutrients to the plants. Home Grown potting soil is great for indoor horticulturists who need a powerful soil that will provide consistent nutrition for the duration of the plant’s life cycle.
Dry fertilizers are a great way for a horticulturist to amend their soil with specialty blends of organic ingredients. Dr. Earth’s dry fertilizer line includes custom blends for boosting blooms, bulbs, acid lovers and starts and seedlings. As with the premium soils, all dry fertilizers contain a rich blend of beneficial microorganisms. Life, Dr. Earth’s all-purpose fertilizer, is especially popular due to its ability to quickly release balanced nutrients to the plants while also sustaining balanced nutrition for several months. Dry fertilizers can be amended to the soil prior to planting and/or used as a top dress for added nutrition throughout the growing season.
Single ingredient fertilizers are dry fertilizers made from a single ingredient. Dr. Earth’s top shelf single ingredient fertilizers are sourced exclusively from certified organic sources. The single ingredient fertilizer lineup includes fish bone meal, bat guano, alfalfa meal, blood meal, bone meal and kelp meal. One detail that really impressed me about this product line was the inclusion of beneficial microorganisms. Other companies simply do not add beneficial microorganisms to their single ingredient fertilizers. This is just one example of how the Dr. Earth Company goes above and beyond when it comes to providing growers with the highest quality and most advanced organic products.
Another unique feature of Dr. Earth’s product line are the Success Kits. These kits are comprised of various Dr. Earth products which are bundled together for the convenience of the gardener. Some of the available kits include veggie kit, all-purpose kit, fruit kit, planting kit, compost kit, acid lovers kit, flower kit, exotic blend, annual bloom kit and the medicine garden kit. The Success Kits can be used by experienced gardeners and are especially nice for growers who are new to the horticulture game.
Dr. Earth has created an advanced, all organic pest control spray lineup named Final Stop Sprays. The Final Stop lineup includes organic control for various pest insects, pathogenic fungi and weeds. The entire Final Stop line is 100% certified organic. One Final Stop Spray that needs special acknowledgement is the Final Stop Weed Killer. As many gardeners know, a lot of commonly used chemical herbicides have long-lasting, harmful effects on the soil, water, and wildlife. Final Stop Weed Killer is the answer to this dilemma. It is an all organic weed killer which rivals the most popular brands of chemical herbicides without causing damage to the environment. Final Stop Weed Killer is quick to act (it kills weeds in an hour) and is the most effective alternative to chemical sprays on the market. It is a non-selective herbicide capable of killing broadleaf weeds, foxtail and even crabgrass.
After speaking with Milo Shammas about Dr. Earth’s inception, accomplishments over the past 25 years and the future direction of the company, it was obvious to me that this man is in business for more than just the money. Milo truly loves his company because he believes that organic gardening is a safer and healthier way to garden. He believes that organic gardening has the potential to heal, not only individuals, but communities and ultimately, our planet. From childhood Milo has felt a connection to the healing potential of organic gardening as if it was imbedded in him. Milo’s two books, “Home Grown Food” and “Healthy Garden Healthy You”, further display his dedication to healing people and our planet through organic horticulture. His company was named Dr. Earth for a reason. A doctor’s job is to heal and the Dr. Earth Company has made it its mission to heal the world, one garden at a time.
For more information about Milo and Dr. Earth visit DrEarth.com.
Eric Hopper resides in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula where he enjoys gardening and pursuing sustainability. He is a Garden & Greenhouse contributing editor and may be contacted at Ehop@GardenAndGreenhouse.net.