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The Difference Between Organic and Synthetic Gardening

As long as the tools for growing indoors have been available, the advantages between growing organically, or supplementing your garden with synthetic nutrients, have remained a hotly debated topic. While the practices of growing with either organic or synthetic supplements are theoretically different, the ultimate goal, in this case, the goal of producing a clean and heavy harvest, is identical. Whatever your preferences in the garden, the choice between growing with organics or synthetics typically causes growers to commit to a specific medium, one which complements the inert, or mineral-based style of fertilizer. Whether you’re growing organically in soil, or synthetically in peat, coco or rockwool, chances are, GreenPlanet Nutrients has the perfect feeding solution for your garden. 

So What’s the Difference?

The main difference between an organic and synthetic garden lies in the way that essential elements are introduced and broken down in the root-zone. In a classic organic garden, for example, inert elements such as worm casting, oyster shell flour, kelp meal, and other raw materials are pre-amended into a soil or soilless mix and are then left to “cook-off”, or break down into elements which can be readily absorbed by plants. In a synthetically fed garden, plants are placed into a porous medium like peat, coco, or rockwool, and then irrigated with water and chemical plant food. Unlike a traditional organic garden, a synthetic garden can be fed with measured inputs exactly to the gardener’s specifications. This does not mean, however, that feeding synthetically has a specific advantage over an organic garden, as natural ingredients, which contain wellsprings of microbes and living beneficial bacteria and fungi, arguably affect the inputs in positive ways we can’t yet understand.

  • Soil or Soilless.
  • Inert elements are pre- amended into the mix.
  • Allowed to “cook-off” into absorbable elements.
  • Porous Medium.
  • Irrigated with water and chemical plant food.
  • Fed with measured inputs exactly to specifications.

Choosing Your Medium 

One aspect of the garden that growing with either organic or mineral-based compounds will affect, is the medium in which your plants will grow. Most purely organic fertilizers, in short, will not be compatible with certain styles of growing. For example, GreenPlanet Nutrients Medi One is an extremely viscous and concentrated fertilizer, formulated with thick inert ingredients including fish hydrolysate, sea kelp, and specially sourced potassium sulphate; unfortunately, because of the viscosity of this nutrient system, it is not recommended to use Medi One in a hydroponic or water-based garden. So, keep in mind that the medium you’re working with will need to be able to support the living qualities of the organic fertilizer in your feeding arsenal. To find out which media will work best for your synthetic or organic garden, consult the passages below. 

Take a look at the back of a GreenPlanet Nutrients Product or click on the product page to ensure you can grow in your medium of choice.

Mediums Suitable for an Organic Garden: 


The term “soil” is a broad term used to describe a mixture of organic compounds including earth, “top-soil”, and forest fines (a logging industry term for bark and the organics that fall off of logs during the sorting process). While most soils in the industry are amended with organic ingredients, like fish waste, this medium is a perfect candidate for the introduction of other liquid or powered organic nutrients.

Peat Moss

Peat moss is arguably the favourite choice of indoor and outdoor growers in the industry. Being that sphagnum peat moss has an extremely porous nature, meaning that it can absorb and expel water at an amazing rate, peat gardens are in some ways the most reliable for drain to waste systems. Peat moss naturally has a very acidic pH; so, once this medium has been buffer, or limed with pH adjusting compounds, it is a perfectly acceptable medium for an organic garden.

Coco Coir

Made from the discarded husks of the coconut fruit, coco is the halfway point between gardening in a “soil/soilless” medium, and a hydroponic system. Although coco occupies a somewhat contentious grey area on the spectrum of gardening methods, if fed properly, coco mediums will perform with excellent success in an organic garden. 

Mediums Suitable for a Synthetic Garden:


Rockwool is a completely sterile medium made from the action of heating and spinning rock materials like slag or ceramic. Unlike peat moss, rockwool is naturally alkaline, and prior to transplanting into a rockwool medium, gardeners must buffer the pH of this medium to ensure the root-zone remains in an adequate range of acidity. Because of the propensity of rockwool to develop algae growth on the ridges of media which are exposed to light, organic fertilizers, which contain vibrant sources of bacteria, are not recommended for use. 

Water-Based Gardens 

There are countless ways to garden completely in water. Among the most popular in the industry are aeroponic gardens, ebb and flow systems, drip irrigation and deep water culture (DWC). Being that these systems use air and water to churn and circulate water throughout the reservoir, an organic supplement would likely become a mess of bubbling organisms and proteins within a few days, if not a few hours. To ensure your reservoir is sterile and free of any unwanted contaminants, a concentrated and highly soluble liquid nutrient, like GreenPlanet Nutrients Dual Fuel, would be a reliable choice of fertilizer in a water-based garden.

Choosing Your Fertilizer

Now that you know the difference between growing with organic and mineral-based compounds, and that this choice will influence the system in which your plants will grow, choosing a clean and well-rounded nutrient system is sure to be less of a debate, and more of a concise choice. Whether your garden is organic, synthetic, soil-based or hydroponic, GreenPlanet Nutrients has a variety of nutrient systems available to suit your needs. For a detailed list of nutrient programs currently offered by GreenPlanet Nutrients, click below. 

Want to learn more about Medi One? Read our blog titled Medi One: Now Officially OMRI Listed. For all other questions, contact a member of the GreenPlanet sales team, or your local garden supply store for product information and purchasing inquiries. 

Check out our Resource Centre for more product information

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