John & Bob's Grow Green Smart Soil Solutions - a review

We are fortunate to have good soil in our garden. That is not the case on the property where we hope to retire and build a new home and garden in the future. This is the property where I grew up and the soil there is basically heavy clay. In the winter, during wet periods, it absorbs the moisture, causing a muddy quagmire. During the summer months and frequent prolonged dry spells, it cracks open and looks like this -

Needless to say, gardening there is much more work and often frustrating! A large pasture filled with weeds and grass is where I dream of building a new garden one day. I've planted a few things there already and I've seen many plants promptly die. This is an area that is not easily accessible (unless you want to climb over a barbed-wire fence) so, for now, once I plant there, it is not convenient to keep a check on it. For example, I was sure this poor Cryptomeria was a goner after suffering through last summer but you can see it is making a comeback.

This is Cryptomeria 'Yoshino' and the John & Bob's product has not been applied.

This seemed like the idea spot to test John & Bob's Grow Green Smart Soil Solutions. Last fall I planted some shrubs here and there and used the product to condition the soil. This is an area where I've never conditioned the soil in the past, additional watering if few and far between and no other fertilizer has been applied. These plants get full sun until late in the afternoon and the field is overgrown with weeds and grass.

The product comes in four parts: Optimize, Maximize, Penetrate and Nourish. These products contain no toxins and are derived from organic, recycled materials. They work by providing live microbes to the soil which aereate the soil and make nutrients available to the plant. They can be purchased individually or bought in kits, with specific applications for certain soil conditions such as Clay and Sandy soils.

Optimize is made of humus and adds nutrients and beneficial micro-organisms.

Maximize add vital minerals back into the soil and helps keep bad organisms in check.

Penetrate contains ingredients that help break up hard clay soil and make it easier to work with as well as provide better growing conditions for plants.

Nourish is an organic fertilizer (made from fermented soybean and cottonseed meal) and provides fast nourishment. 

The products are very easy to use. They can be mixed together and sprinkled around a plant (either newly planted or already established) and watered in. All it takes is a few tablespoons to 1/2 cup per plant (depending on the size of the plant) worked into the top few inches of soil. 

So, after applying it to a few plants in the pasture, I have to say I'm impressed so far. 

This is Magnolia "Jane" planted in rocky clay soil in adverse conditions. We haven't had rain in about 2 weeks. This tree was also planted this year so it has not had the benefit of an entire winter to settle in.

Hamamelis 'Arnold's Promise' is doing fine despite the fact that a limb has been broken off (still not sure how that happened but I suspect a cow or horse). I hesitated to put this plant here because I actually paid a lot for it. Most of the other plants in this area are from the bargain tables!

I've also planted a Deodor Cedar, Chokeberry and Weeping Willow in this pasture and they are doing well. As compared to the Cryptomeria (photo near the top of this post), the plants with John & Bob's seem to be healthier and less stressed.

Their products can also be used on indoor plants, container plants and lawns.

I would recommend this product. If you would like more detailed information, please visit their website where you will find studies, scientific analysis, and much more in-depth information!

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Sounds interesting. I have sandy and clay soils in our garden. It all depends upon where the fill dirt was shoved around when they built the house.

    It will be fun watching your pasture evolve into a garden. I hope you never tire of blogging so we can watch the progress.

  2. Phillip, Thank you for recommending this.I must try it. I garden under mature trees that suck everything out of the soil so I am constantly shoveling compost & manure and frankly its getting old!

    Good luck with the retirement property. Planning and planting the bones now is an excellent idea. Watching the progress

  3. I added their fertilizer to my garden last fall and have seen a big improvement. I really love the liquid Penetrate. I added it last fall to my driest, most heinous clay and it really transformed it. I even bought more and applied it to my lawn. I'm definitely buying it again. It's awesome stuff!!

  4. Phillip, my 3.5 acres of our former dairy farm was like that, nothing but red clay from years of pasture and part of an old plantation. I've been on my utility company wood chip list for over 10 years and compost it and whatever stable sawdust I can get. I've slowly gone from red to dark & loose soil over the years.

  5. You are so brave to plant in the middle of a pasture with little supervision! It will be fun to create a new garden but will you be able to pull yourself away from your paradise you currently call home? Yikes, that is a scary thought. But exciting to think of the new paradise on the horizon....


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