Almost every time I have mentioned a company or product on this blog—like Hort Couture or video game makers iwin.com (to choose two wildly disparate examples)—the subject of my wrath, praise, or mild derision has never failed to find my post. Hort Couture left a very nice, good-humored comment, for example, and the makers of the video game Garden Defense quite understandably called me out for not have played it. (Hey! No Mac version!)
It’s not surprising. Many of us use Google alerts to follow mentions of our names or blogs on the web, and probably some companies have even more sophisticated digital monitoring strategies in place. But I have to admit I was surprised when I received a letter from Scotts Miracle-Gro just a few days after the May issue of Buffalo Spree, the city/regional magazine I edit, hit the streets. In it, an article by gardening author Sally Jean Cunningham on vegetable growing said, among many other things,
Plants don’t need Miracle Gro or other synthetic fertilizers to grow, and the synthetics set back your progress if the goal is rich, lively, organic soil. Trust compost.
The letter from Scotts was addressed to Sally and offered a basic defense of their organic line, concluding,
I would be happy to put you in touch with an expert in our organic research department, who would be able to discuss the science behind our organic products, or refer you to any of our lawn care scientists at ScottsMiracle-Gro as sources for future stories on organic or conventional lawn and garden care.
I wasn’t surprised by what they said, but was surprised to hear from them so quickly, because we don’t put all our content on line, and this article isn’t available on the website. [ADDENDUM: It now is, for your benefit.]
I don’t question the right of a company to defend their product—if they don’t care, who will—but it kind of creeps me out just a bit to see how closely these discussions are followed. Indeed, quite a number of companies follow members of the gardening community on Twitter, as I am sure many of you have noticed. What do you think about it? Welcome addition to the conversation or just a little too close for comfort?