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I planted some kale and hot peppers in containers in my garden. A couple of days after filling out the containers I realized the soil I bought wasn't an organic soil, just a Triple Mix type, Vigoro brand.

I'm wondering how safe it is to keep them, is non-organic soil suitable for growing plants I intend to eat (do they contain pesticides or other chemicals) ? I'm looking for MSDS or some kind of hazardous product DB to check what exactly is in them or at least some objective information that there isn't adverse health effects from eating anything grown in it.

I don't know if it makes a difference but the roots were only in contact with the soil for a couple of days until I switched them to an organic soil.

  • If you believe that a reputable company will sell poisoned soil products via a national store chain, then you should probably panic and assume you are about to die. Otherwise, don't worry about it. BTW there is no such thing as "organic soil", and all soil contains "chemicals"! – alephzero Jun 11 '19 at 12:39
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    @alephzero of course everything has chemicals, but not all of them are safe for consumption. You also seem to have too much faith in "reputable" companies and chain stores – user26022 Jun 14 '19 at 0:09
  • What's the barcode of your Vigoro mix? (We should be able to look that up to find the exact product you have.) – Brōtsyorfuzthrāx Jun 14 '19 at 10:48
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Since anyone can set up their own triple mix business without regulation and there are no controls over what can actually be in it there is no such thing as a strict database of scientific information for this product; MSDS depends on the fact that the products listed are very narrowly defined and consistent.

There have been some efforts to define what triple mix is (see for example this website where the author claims a background in chemistry) but that of course only takes us so far. Once you identify primary ingredients such as topsoil, compost and other materials you then start asking well where did the compost come from? While it might sound organic we bear in mind that some of it might have come from street side pickup from Joe Blow's yard where he insists on zero weeds and indulges in a chemo blitz to ensure that fact. Municipalities are trying hard to recycle stuff, and while they can effectively provide a big machine to chew up and turn the inputs they rely heavily on soil organisms to provide a good end product but in effect just throw it out the door once the hot fermentation is over.

A good source of information is reviews of widely sold products. When you see observations such as a "bag of dirty wet twigs" you are forewarned, and can take comfort when you see warmer reviews flattering the producer.

In my area there is a seasonal business which starts up each spring specializing in bulk soil, manure, peats, compost, stone and so on for landscapers and gardeners. It will probably be easier and more reliable to talk to them than to corporations. They may know the farmer who supplied the manure and a word from him might ease your mind about the quality.

The final word might be that root hairs do the final selection of what goes into a plant. Living things are pretty selective about what they allow to pass that barrier. See this treatment for a detailed discussion of how root hairs work. If you do not have your own garden and only require small quantities, find a gardener who will be willing to supply you directly with soil and insists on taking it back once you are finished with it.

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I don't know how many Vigoro triple mixes exist, if more than one, but the Vigoro triple mix that I've read about online since seeing your question is advertised as being usable for vegetables. So, the company at least seems to think we should think it's safe. However, it's supposed to be used more as a soil amendment or mulch than anything, as I understand it. I don't think it's a full potting mix (and it may be lacking in nutrients), nor to use it for the entire soil for your plants (vegetables or not).

The mix doesn't seem to have very good reviews. People complain about its composition, weeds being included, pests being included, and such. Of course, that doesn't mean their experience will be yours.

To find out more about this specific mix, you'll probably have to contact the company itself.

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