How will you celebrate Earth Day?

Earth Day is April 22, and I’ve been invited to participate in a blogging event hosted by Jan Huston Doble’s blog Thanks For 2 Day, where garden bloggers are writing about ways in which we’re making ‘greener gardens’.

I’ve decided to write about two of my very favorite organic garden products:  Haven’s Authentic Brand Soil Conditioning Tea and John & Bob’s Soil Optimizer.



1) Haven’s Authentic Brand Soil Conditioning Tea

The first is one that I lovingly call Moo Poo Tea.  It’s really called Haven’s Authentic Brand soil conditioning tea.  But Moo Poo Tea is definitely more fun to say.

What is it?  It’s the by-product of natural grass-fed cows raised free of antibiotics, growth hormones and pesticides.  The rancher who created this product, Annie Haven, was kind enough to send me some samples which I said I’d gladly test for her.

When I opened the envelope, I was amazed at how darn cute these oversized tea bags were (yes, they’re intentionally oversized to avoid any possible mix-up with your regular Earl Grey tea bag! Ewwww….)

I must admit that due to it’s simplicity, I was a bit skeptical.  It seemed simple enough to do – just brew a teabag in a 5-gallon bucket for several hours.  Then over the course of about 3 days, use what you need directly on your houseplants or outside plants.  There’s no smell whatsoever, and all you need to do is cover the bucket when you’re not using it.

I had been wanting to start some nasturtiums from seed, so I figured the timing was perfect!  I split the seeds into 2 categories:  1 fertilized twice with the product, and 1 without any additional fertilizer.

This is the ‘before’ photo.  Both sets of seedlings have been given only water, and both sets look the same.


It’s now been about 10 days and I’ve given the batch on the right-hand side 2 doses of ‘tea’.

While the plants aren’t blooming yet, you can clearly see the difference in growth habits!  One has thicker, lush growth on sturdier stems, while the other is lanky with sparse foliage.

This is a ‘test in progress’ as I only planted them in the ground about 3 weeks ago.  I’ll keep you all up to date with the progress of my test batch, as I’m sure the results will be dramatic!

Click here to read some amazing history about Haven’s ranch – makes you proud to be using their tea bags, that’s for sure!

2)  John & Bob’s Soil Optimizer

warfare3As some of you may know, Fine Gardening magazine came to my home a year ago to photograph one of my client’s gardens.  I had about 5 months notice, and was NOT going to be caught with my OWN garden looking sub-par.  So, I asked around at my local nursery (Yamagami’s – one of the BEST in the Bay Area) and was told about a product that’s been showing amazing results in conditioning the soil.  It’s not cheap but I figured I’d give it a try.  All I can say is HOLY COW THIS STUFF IS AMAZING!

Because I’m the furthest thing from a scientist, I’ll just quote the back of the package: “…this true humus is mined from a unique deposit of leonardite in New Mexico.  This deposit has been composting for thousands of years, making it far more concentrated and richer than surface-decomposed humus…while particially decomposed humus products still have to continue composting after application, John & Bob’s Soil Optimizer begins to recondition at the molecular level as soon as it is watered into your soil.  After treatment, your soil will store and release nutrients and water to plant life much more efficiently.”

I used it ONCE in January (taking advantage of our Winter rains to thoroughly soak it into the ground) and 3 months later noticed a huge jump in the growth of my garden.  After 9 months, my garden was still going strong – with plants that are typically pale and needing food by now, looking vibrant.  I plan on using this product only twice a year (their recommendations), versus the ‘other’ man-made products which recommend using their products every few weeks.

Another bonus?  It couldn’t be easier to use – just fill a rotary spreader, set it to the recommended setting, and you’re done in just minutes.

Won’t you consider trying something different in your own garden to make a difference this Earth Day? I encourage you to visit the link above to see what other folks around the country are doing to make a difference….


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  • I didn’t ask Annie for a contribution for this project as you suggested because I’d already announced the number of prizes and didn’t feel it should be changed at the last minute. But I’ll keep it in mind for myself, and if I do this again next year, I’ll know where to look;-) Sorry you didn’t win anything but your contribution was great, and I thank you for supporting the project!

  • I just got a package of Moo Poo Tea yesterday! I used my first batch on my container plants about a month ago and am going to follow the suggestion to use 4 times a year. Encouraging to see the results of your seedling test.

  • Hi, love the moo poo tea! Have used it a couple of years now and — IT REALLY WORKS!
    Annie did a fantastic job of producing such an earth friendly functional product.

  • Wonderful aricle Rebecca, I am so proud to be producing a product line of Pure Manure Teas (Moo Poo Teas) from my Moo’s to You I’m pleased to have them in your gardens.

    It’s a Haven Family thing we Love the Soil…and your words show it.

    Thank You,

    Annie Haven
    Woman Rancher/Eco Garden Product Business Owner

  • Proud of you girl.

    Earth Day-we’ll be in Boston teaching kids how to plant seeds, decorating pots, teaching nature poetry, and more. A perfect day for us.



  • Hi Rebecca, I actually noticed that and put it on my list with this correct link…I didn’t even mention it to you, but thanks for adding that in a comment! This is a wonderful contribution and I really appreciate your participation! Thanks so much for sharing these products. I DID see the wonderful video that Susan made of your garden and just adored it. It must be heavenly being in your garden, Rebecca;-) Thanks, Jan

  • That moo poo tea really made a big difference. A much better name for sure. I came over from Jan’s blog but the link you left was not working. Just thought I’d let you know. Which issue of FG was your client’s garden in? I’d love to look it up. A garden featured in FG in January is near me and I can’t wait to see it. So exciting for the gardeners. His name is Jimmy Williams.

    • Hi Tina – so glad to hear from you! I’ll check on that link asap….my client’s garden was in the latest FG issue (April 2010). And yes, it’s VERY exciting for both the designer AND the client!


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