SG565: Cultivate Happier Plants Using Organic Soil with Mark Highland

Are you an organic gardener? Do you use organic potting soil? Back in 2006, the idea of organic potting soil would have been an emerging area in the world of horticulture - but it was a question and a concept that Mark Highland had been thinking about for a while. Mark Highland is known as The Organic Mechanic and produces some fantastic organic products, with his first product being organic potting soil. Today, I’m thrilled to share my chat with entrepreneur Mark Highland, who was an early innovator in developing environmentally sustainable gardening products.

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“Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”
― Robert Louis Stevenson.

Ingredients to Look for When Shopping for Organic Soil with Mark Highland
Ingredients to Look for When Shopping for Organic Soil with Mark Highland
Ingredients to Look for When Shopping for Organic Soil with Mark Highland

Interview Questions

Tell us a little bit about yourself, Mark!

Time Stamp: 11:20

Education played a big part on how you got people to buy your organic products, right?

Time Stamp 18:35

When you went to Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania, was organic a big focus of your training there?

Time Stamp 21:45

When you went to Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania, was organic a big focus of your training there?

Time Stamp 21:45

Now, every entrepreneur has a story of the naysayers they faced when they started their business. Do you have any examples? What did your friends and family think?

Time Stamp 23:30

Do you feel an intense amount of pressure to get going to be first in the market before someone else beat you to it?

Time Stamp 32:30

You created a relationship with Wholefoods and that was a massive turning point for you, correct?

Time Stamp 37:35

For folks who are in the gardening space and have a new gardening product they want to sell, you would probably advocate getting into the trade show circuit. How did you handle the tradeshow grind, as it were?

Time Stamp 40:40

Is there an ingredient in your potting soil that maybe since 2006 you have a different perspective on and has since evolved in the last decade?

Time Stamp 46:55

Let’s do a little primer for folks about some of the ingredients you do have in your potting soil. First, let’s start with Pine bark, what so great about it?

Time Stamp 51:45

Coconut coir

Time Stamp 53:35

Rice haul

Time Stamp 59:15

What are your thoughts on worm castings?

Time Stamp 1:07:10

You have compost listed in some of your products. What is compost to you and how do you define it?

Time Stamp 1:08:45

Well, one of the ingredients that’s not in your products is peat, help listeners understand why that is.

Time Stamp 1:14:30

Can you please walk us through your product line.

Time Stamp 1:19:10

How do you manage quality control on your products?

Time Stamp 1:29:30

How about your remaining products? I know you have teabags, plant foods, walk us through those.

Time Stamp 1:32:00

I read online your company went through a terrible flood a couple of years ago. What happened exactly?

Time Stamp 1:34:20

Do you have any parting words of wisdom you’d like to share with folks about going organic this year?

Time Stamp 1:42:10

Ingredients to Look for When Shopping for Organic Soil with Mark Highland


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What listeners are saying...

I never write reviews but this is the best gardening podcast out there. Jennifer has interesting topics and guests and is not one bit annoying like some others are. I love that she involves her kids at the end of the podcast - usually with poetry or music. Really good podcast.

- Barbcfc, Mar 23, 2016

Still Growing is one of the reliably informative gardening podcasts from North America. The format consists of an intro (personal gardening status chat, seasonal remarks), an extended interview with a guest, and an outro with funny outtakes, side remarks, and some chatter (poems, readings) from the host's children. The podcast is focused on reliable knowledge - the guests are typically experts like academics, master gardeners, gardening entrepreneurs or public garden leaders. The intro and especially the outro give it a homey feel. Given I live in the high northern region, just a little below the Polar Circle, I'm always looking for more cold-weather oriented gardening information. Jennifer Ebeling is in Minnesota, so that's helpful to me! Vegetable gardening (my main interest) gets a good share, but is not predominant. Most topics transcend your specific gardening interest and are applicable to many styles: landscaping principles, vermicomposting, greenhouses. The episodes are typically an hour long, which is just fine for me.

- cwaigl, May 29, 2014

Best gardening podcast out there. Her preparedness leads to a good interaction with the guests and brings out the best in them. Very informative and yet personable.

- Corn bug, June 15, 2016

This is a great podcast. Really well produced and organized with good sound quality. I love the mix of information and personal touches. Jennifer has great guests and asks the best questions. You can tell she really does her homework. I listen to several gardening podcasts and this is my absolute favorite!

- So Cal Gardengirl, June 19,2016

Jennifer Ebeling
Jennifer Ebeling is a proud Minnesotan and U of MN alumni. Gooooooo Gophers! Each week, Jennifer produces and hosts Still Growing - a gardening podcast dedicated to helping you and your garden grow. The show is an in-depth interview format. Guests featured on the show share a passion for gardening and include authors, bloggers, professional gardeners, etc. Listeners and guests of the show can join the Still Growing community on Facebook. It's a place to ask questions, share garden stories, interact with great guests featured on the show, and continue to grow and learn. Jennifer and her husband Philip have four children, a big golden lab named Sonny, and live in lovely Maple Grove, Minnesota. P.S. When she's not teaching her four kids a new card game - or teaching them how to drive a car - Jennifer loves inspiring individuals and groups to maximize and personalize their home & garden.
Jennifer Ebeling
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