Dead as a Doornail

Dead plants
I killed these pansies by using too much of a good thing!

Last week, I bought some pansies to fill my new-to-me wooden planters from the Habitat ReStore. To an outside observer, it looked like a perfect day of fall sprucing-up: new planters, new fall flowers, lawn clean-up, new mulch – the curb appeal was sparkling by the end of that day! But in my excitement about the new planters and flowers, I made a fatal mistake.

You see, during my yard clean-up, I found – hidden behind the bushes next to the outdoor spigot – a jug of Worm Poop. Yes, they put worm poop in a jug, and yes, I bought it. It’s an organic liquid fertilizer made by TerraCycle, packaged in recycled plastic drink bottles with a spray nozzle that attaches to your garden hose to dilute the food and spray it onto your lawn.

Anyway, the jug was really old, and my lawn is already pretty much dormant for the winter, and my new flowers needed a boost, and surely worm poop is pretty harmless, and do you see where this is going?

In my overconfidence, I unscrewed the cap and poured that worm poop straight onto my pansies. Within 48 hours, they were dead. And I don’t mean sorta dead, I mean completely dead, goners, well on their way to becoming compost themselves.

Organic fertilizer bottle
Organic fertilizer can be stronger than you think!

I tell this embarrassing story not only so that you can avoid looking like a doofus, but also to illustrate the power of nature and organic gardening. Popular marketing ploys make organic fertilizers out to be the wussies of the gardening world, inferior to the chemical sprays that promise to boost, blast, green-up, and otherwise artificially inflate your plants to the high heavens while creating a dependency that requires you to – you guessed it – buy more fertilizer.

Organic products don’t promise quite the instant results, but they’re no less potent. This simple tea made from water and the natural castings of lowly little earthworms was powerful enough to burn my pansies faster than an earthworm can cross the sidewalk.

And in addition to being powerful, it’s made of composted natural organic material that will break down to improve soil’s texture and contribute to a healthier garden over time, a garden that requires LESS fertilizer, rather than more.

I won’t make the same mistake next time with my pansies, but I sure will go for the Worm Poop again, and next time, I’ll apply it according to package instructions!


  1. True compost tea is small amount of compost steeped in water which is then aerated with oxygen (fish tank bubbler). That increases the microbes that are so beneficial to plants and soil; however, without oxygenation, you will end up with a nasty anaerobic liquid that will damage, if not kill, plants. Don’t know what was in that bottle, but even following the directions, I don’t see how it could be healthful to plants.


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