Is Jerry Baker Legit?

flowerchild3(z5 MI)July 19, 2005

I was just wondring if Jerry Baker's tonics really work. Also, are they organic? This may sound like a dumb question but I get confused sometimes about what are chemicals and what are organic sources. Synthetic fertilizers like Miracle Grow aren't organic right? I just got Jerry Baker's book from the library and was wanting to try a few things. I'm really wanting to keep things organic, thrifty and simple.

Also, I'm confused about fertilizing my garden. If I add compost to everything each year will that be enough? Is there a really simple approach I can use to feeding my plants? I really love gardeinging but I want to keep it as simple as possible.

Thanks for the help. I'm new to gardening and I'm always loaded with questions! I figured if I read up on gardening enough I would get it all down but I feel like the more I learn, the MORE I need to learn. : )


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Fertilizers are a way of ramping up the activity of the soil microbes. Think of fertilizers as nitro that is used in race cars. Once you increase the activity of the micorbes they feed and bred at a very high rate. The problem with fertilizers comes from fact that those microbes are also eatting your soil 'out of house and home! In other words after this increased population of microbes consume the nutrients in the fertilizer they start on those nutrients in the soil and with a large population consume those soil nutrients fast! Once the nutrients are used up a population crash occurs and you are left with poor soil.
So you simply use more fertilizers right? Sure and the same cycle occurs but with even greater soil nutrient lose.
Also keep in mind that fertilizers are toxic to some the same microbes that you want to keep around. Also some of the chemicals used are limited in avaliablity and like oil once use up there won't be anymore to be had.
So fertilizers cause rapid use of the nutrients stored in the soil by increasing the population of soil microbes leaving you with an even poorer soil and is toxic to many soil microbes.
Stick with the slow but better method of compost and mulch.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 8:20AM
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Jerry Baker is a quack. Oh, yeah, and while some of them might be, most of his tonics are not at all organic.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 8:35AM
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The best way I know of to gauge the health and fertility of your soil is to simply grow things, all kinds of plants, and see how they do. Most of us find that adding compost to the garden is all that is needed to keep the plants happy. It takes longer to study the soil by observing the plants, so, if you need faster answers, you can get a soil test done.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 9:34AM
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byron(4a/5b NH)

Baker never claimed to be organic, back in the 80's about 80% of his methods were organic. Circa 1990 he started adding MG to everything and I left.

I still use a few from the 80's collection.


    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 10:00AM
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flowerchild3(z5 MI)

Thanks for all the help everyone. I knew you would know! : ) Mike, that explanation you gave was especially helpful. I feel like I understand fertilizers a bit better now. I'm more than happy that all I need to do is use compost and mulch. It's much simpler, cheaper and nature friendly! My problem is that I don't have much room for a compost bin so I only have one made of pallets. I feel like I need at least two so that one can be "cooking" and the other in progress but for now I guess I'll have to stick to one. I need to find more OM. It's taking awhile for me to get a good compost supply built up.
So really, is it that simple? Just put compost and mulch down and plant? I grew a lot of flowers from seed this year using the Winter Sowing method. Most of them did great but a few didn't do well. Some of the garden beds I put them in hadn't been prepared at all. All I did was take up the grass and plant. Then I put bark mulch down. Maybe that's why some of them didn't do so well. I've learned so much this summer from all my mistakes. Next year I'm going to try to put down a lot of compost in everything. I'm wondering if all the bark mulch I put down is actually taking away nitrogen from the plants. I've put watered-down urine on a few to see if it helps. Is that a good idea??
I planted my vegetable garden in a raised bed lasagna garden and some of those plants didn't do well. The tomatoes have blossom-end rot even though I put egg-shells in the soil first. And my broccoli was very dry and parts of it tasted like sticks. So, I'm not sure where I went wrong with that. Do you think there wasn't enough greens?
ANYway, I won't bother with the Jerry Baker stuff now. Thanks for helping me to figure it out.


    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 2:10PM
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Dry broccoli? We grow broccoli every year, & we never have that problem. Is your native soil sandy?

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 2:22PM
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flowerchild3(z5 MI)

yep. We definately have sandy soil. In a way it's nice (better than clay) but in other ways it's not so nice. We have been having a drought here for awhile so maybe that's why the broccoli was so dry. I've tried to water every other day but maybe that wasn't enough. I've planted the veggies in a raised bed too so maybe that contributed to them being dry.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 2:41PM
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Our soil is high in clay, so I don't have personal experience with sandy soils. From reading this forum, and the "soils & compost" forum, I have learned that it takes repeated applications of large amounts of compost to improve the water retention of sandy soils. Do you have a spot where a compost pile could be located? Shredded tree leaves make great compost.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 4:40PM
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squeeze(z8 BC)

flowerchild - tomato BER has more to do w/ irregular watering than anything, and while the eggshells are a good calcium source, it takes time for it to become available, even if the watering isn't erratic - just try to ensure you never overwater or let'em get super dry, the problem is usually temporary

for the fertilizing, Mike is a little off - compost feeds the soil organisms, and having a healthy micro population is what converts the organic nutrients [compost] you add into mineral nutrients which are then available to the plants - use of chem fertilizers bypasses soil chemistry/biology, supplying the nutrients in a plant-available form so the microbes are bypassed and 'starve' or are outright killed by the imbalances created [think hydroponic, all chemical, no soil] - you can have a healthy garden by relying entirely on compost, but some of the plants we want to be best require higher amounts of one thing or another at different points in their cycle in order to be as productive as we'd like

for instance adding a bit of bone meal before planting veggies will give a boost to the initial root development, which make the later fruit production more likely, as well as boosting calcium and aiding foliage growth because it also has nitrogen - potassium is important for blooming and fruit set, so some greensand or kelp can be useful if that's lagging

the main difference to keep in mind is organic amendments are made of things that were alive or occur naturally - chemical amendments are synthetically manufactured from other materials, frequently petroleum


    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 6:35PM
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byron(4a/5b NH)

After 20 something years of trying some of the Baker stuff the only ones I still use in the Tobacco tea and dishsoap bug spray

Human urine around the outside perimeter works as a deer repellant

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 9:50PM
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flowerchild3(z5 MI)

Thanks Bill. That makes a lot of sense. I guess the trick is finding out which plants need an extra ammendment and remembering to give it to them. Do certain plants need more because they aren't native to the area? Like, if I grew all native plants, would none of them need amendments?
Also, what would be the organic amendments?
Bone meal, blood meal, lime, urine etc?
What would be the synthetic amendments?
Beer, Amonia, Miracle Grow etc?


    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 9:59PM
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byron(4a/5b NH)



Mike McGrath will not accept organicaly grown tobacco as organic


    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 10:36PM
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Tobacco, like Arsenic, is no longer considered an acceptable organic spray for anything. Simply because something was used 100 years ago to control pests does not mean as we learn more about that product it should still be used. Rotenone is not acceptable today because of its toxicity, pyrethrin based products are really questionable, because of toxicity, many of the other old stand buy products are being questioned today for those reasons.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2005 at 7:18AM
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byron(4a/5b NH)


I have a major problem with the toxic data listed

Calmly, and clearly, my problems with Mr. Baker are   
> that:   
> 1. None of his concoctions (and many of his   
> cultural practices) have   
> been proven to be effective by University research.   
> That alone means   
> that we, as Extension people and Master Gardeners,   
> may not use his   
> materials and concoctions for our recommendations.   
> May I remind you: as representatives of your   
> University, you MAY NOT   
> legally recommend any pesticide or cultural practice   
> unless it is   
> backed up by literature from your University. I   
> won't get into the   
> debate about whether practice A or mixture B works   
> \-\- if your   
> University does not recommend it, neither may you.   
> 2. Some of his concoctions are dangerous. His   
> "tobacco tea" is simply   
> a way of extracting nicotine for use as an   
> insecticide. Nicotine's   
> LD\-50 is about 50 mg/kg, which makes it nearly as   
> toxic as strychnine   
> (LD\-50 of 30 mg/kg). To be spraying this over the   
> entire yard/garden,   
> as a general "tonic", without checking a) to see if   
> there are pests   
> present, and b) without checking to see if there are   
> beneficials   
> present, and c) without warnings to kids, barefoot   
> gardeners, and pets   
> that a highly toxic (though natural) product has   
> been sprayed \-\- all   
> of this is reckless. I wouldn't spray malathion   
> this recklessly. I   
> hope no one else would spray nicotine that   
> recklessly.   
> 3. Some of his concoctions are (technically)   
> illegal. OK, class, what   
> are the 3 words we must all say when we recommend a   
> pesticide? READ   
> THE LABEL! Now, what does the label say for dish   
> detergent? Use it   
> for washing dishes. Where does it say which crops   
> it's safe for?   
> Where does it say how much to use for your crops, or   
> which pests it   
> will control? Where are the environmental cautions   
> for using it   
> outdoors? They don't exist, because the label   
> doesn't give you the   
> legal right to use it outdoors as a pesticide.   
> Again, I won't get into the debate about whether it   
> works (although,   
> anecdotally, I've seen severe plant burn from   
> dishwashing detergent).   
> It isn't on the label, and the label is federal law.   
> Period.   
> Will you go to jail if you use dish detergent in   
> your garden? No, Big   
> Brother isn't watching us that closely. But, as a   
> Master Gardener, can   
> you get into trouble with your University for making   
> illegal   
> recommendations? You bet! Just imagine the   
> embarassment when a   
> gardener kills 40 tomato plants, following your   
> advice to use dish   
> detergent. You are sued, and so is your University.   
> Chances are, your   
> University will not cover you, because you violated   
> their directives   
> and recommended an off\-label use of a product. It's   
> happened, folks.   
> 4. He's not a Master Gardener. No University   
> claims him, to my   
> knowledge.   
> I've got a lot of other picky problems with his   
> recommendations, but I   
> won't bother with them here. I don't want to see   
> this debate continue   
> to rage. We have to face it: he's charismatic,   
> he's popular, and he   
> sells advertising space (or garners donations to   
> PBS). He's here to   
> stay, and we need to have FACTS at our finger tips   
> to discourage our   
> clientele from blindly following his advice.   
> Does he have good points? Sure! He does get people   
> enthused about   
> gardening, and some of his recommendations are   
> actually beneficial to   
> our gardens. However, we need to examine specific   
> recommendations, and   
> refute them on a point by point basis.   
> And please: we are all Master Gardeners (we are,   
> aren't we?) Let's   
> keep the discussion PLEASANT and COURTEOUS, please.   
> NO name calling,   
> no snide remarks. Just the facts, folks, just the   
> facts.   
> \-\-Flame\-proof suit being zipped on \-\-   
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~   
> Larry Caplan, Extension Educator \-\- Horticulture   
> Purdue Univ. Cooperative Extension Service,   
> Vanderburgh Co.   
> \-\- Southwest Indiana, USDA Zone 6   
> Certified Arborist \-\- International Society   
> of Arboriculture 


This guy couldn't find the LD 50 of Pipe/cigar/chewing/cigarette tobacco's so he assumes that they have the same LD 50 as Manufactured Concentrate. 

My guess that if these tobaccos had the same LD 50 we wouldn't have tobacco users because they would all be dead. 

Just a little common sense 

  1. Some of his concoctions are (technically)
    > illegal. OK, class, what
    > are the 3 words we must all say when we recommend a
    > pesticide? READ
    > THE LABEL!

If you follow this rule, you can not garden organicaly 

How much does it cost to get a label? Do you think someone is going to pay a U several $1M's to get a label on cow flop. Are you going to pay for a label to use your grass clippings or hay, I doubt it.

I don't care if you use tobacco or not. The way I look at it, I start with some tobacco, that is labeled fit for consumption (not nicotine sulphate) And I reduce that concentration by about 100,000 times. I fail to see how this becomes more deadly than strychnine 

Asprin has an LD 50 of 1000, why doesn't it have a label? 


    Bookmark   July 21, 2005 at 12:32PM
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No tobacco is labled "fit for consumption" today. It is all a known human carcinogen. Nicotine sulfate is a broad spectrum poison that is simply unaccetable in the organic garden today, just as Arsenic and strycnine are.

Jerry Baker is not a good gardening example to emulate. He will tell you that you can use many of the very broad spectrum pesticides at half strength, along with his concoctions that are supposed to make them more potent and don't, and the target pests then get a better chance of developing immunity to them so the manufacturers will have to find even more problematic poisons for people to use. Carbaryl, for example, has been used so much in some places to control the Colorado Potato Beetle that they are no longer affected by it at all and those growers today are using Bacillus thuringiensis - San Diego to control them.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2005 at 4:48PM
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I was told that Mr. Baker's persona benefitted his families large mail-order business; garden products and publications etc.

My purchase of a compost bin from the business left me a bit grumpy -- the bin was not large enough to retain heat!. He does not seem to emphasize compost much.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 2:19PM
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finnbiker(Z 5 PA)

I will say, in Jerry's defense, however, that his deer repllant WORKS! and also seems to help my roses!
Eggs, garlic, cayenne pepper, Tabasco sauce, water-- that is as much as I remember. I love it. And I hate deer.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 9:00AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Oh, flowerchild, flowerchild, flowerchild. If you aren't confused yet, I'm sure there will be more to come.

In my opinion Jerry Baker is a harmless old huckster. You won't do much damage following his advice, but I doubt you will have a prize winning garden either.

In my opinion Mike (first reply above) oversimplified the situation. Fertilizer is not fertilizer is not fertilizer. If he had distinguished between organic fertilizer and synthetic chemical fertilizer, I probably would have gone along with him. I hope he was talking about synthetic chemical fertilizers because none of what he said applies to organic fertilizers.

Okay, what is an organic fertilizer? First of all consider what you are feeding when you are on an organic program. You are feeding the beneficial microbes in the soil and on the plant surfaces. What do they eat? They eat protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, as well as other microbes. (corollary question: what is a microbe? The microbes we are concerned about are bacteria (like germs only beneficial), fungi (like the stuff growing in the grout in your shower or the green stuff on your week old bread), protozoa (like amoeba), and microarthropods (really tiny insects).) All these things eat regular food. When you leave food out to "spoil," it is the bacteria and fungi that "cause" the spoilage. They are eating the food you left out. So what is good food for the soil microbes? The exact same food you eat. Meat, milk, flour, veggies, etc. are all on the diet for the beneficial microbes out in the garden. If you feed milk to your soil, you will improve the health of the microbes. If you feed soy bean meal to them, they get healthier. Same for feeding wheat flour, spoiled fish, corn boiling water, and anything else you normally pour or toss in the disposal. Anything you eat, or the discards from the stuff you eat, is good for the soil.

So how do you apply all that stuff? Most of us settle for a few things that are easy, inexpensive, and don't smell bad. My favorite organic fertilizer material is ordinary whole ground corn meal. I also use corn GLUTEN meal. Many really prefer to use soy bean meal because it is less expensive in their neighborhood and they can't find corn meal. Used coffee grounds make a great fertilizer for the soil microbes as do the alfalfa pellets used for rabbit food.

Notice that I haven't mentioned compost. I guess I should express my opinion. I think compost is overrated. Yes it provides some food for the soil microbes, and in fact, compost is FULL of beneficial soil microbes. IF you think you need a dose of fresh beneficial soil microbes, then compost is the way to get them. But do you need it every year, or twice a year? I don't think you need it even a second time once you get the microbes into your soil. There is nothing you can do to keep the microbes away from your soil. Look at bread...inside a bakery sealed bag it will get moldy in a week. How could you keep the microbes away from the wide open spaces with birds (and their droppings), insects (and their droppings), worms (and their droppings), etc. You can't. But you can stunt their growth and health by NOT feeding them a variety of food. The ingredients of compost are, by and large, low food grade materials. If the ingredients of compost made great food, we would eat it. So what I do is I visit my local feed store, find an inexpensive bag (50 pounds) of ground up seeds, beans, or nuts, and spread that on my soil at a rate of 10-20 pounds per 1,000 square feet. For shrubs I scatter a heaping handful under the dripline of the shrubs every month.

To me what I have described makes a lot of sense. Compared to what Jerry Baker talks about, we're in different galaxies.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 8:20PM
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adirondackgardener(Western Maine)

Interesting that after a full year this thread revives. I wonder if it has anything to do with the timing of the summer PBS fundraising during which they broadcast this old snake-oil salesman's programs?

He may be harmeless as dchall says, but his drenching the soil with Roundup, household ammonia, tobacco juice and a number of chemical poisons now band for use makes me wonder. Harmless I guess, if no one takes him seriously. I just wish the PBS fundraising hosts would stop saying how environmentally friendly this old coot is. He's no friend of ours.

See you back at this thread in July, 2007!


    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 10:25PM
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gumby_ct(CT it says Z5)

In Baker's defense...
A few years back, I tried one of his 'formulas'. It had, I think, coke, mouthwash, maybe some dishsoap or baby shampoo, plus I think there was one more ingredient. Of course I forget what he called it but I do remember he said it would make the plants 'jump' out of the ground.

I had to go away for a couple weeks after I sprayed it, so I asked the ex to water the garden. A simple soaker hose setup with a timer (in a row garden), so all she had to do was turn it on. We had thunderstorms a couple nights before I returned.

I will never forget the look on her face. She said I don't know what happened they were not like this a couple days ago. Everything had simply, well, jumped outta the ground. They were all doin very well. Of course I was embarassed to tell anyone I had even tried it.

Sure wish I could remember what it was. They need a boost this year.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 10:48PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Ammonia was the other ingredient.

When I want plants to jump out of the ground, I scatter a handful of corn gluten meal under the dripline of each plant. Do that weekly and you should recreate the jumping effect.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 6:31PM
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While doing a Google search, I accidentally came across this site. To my surprise, I came across some character named Byron defaming me on a couple of places in this forum because I dared to "ASSume" that nicotine was as toxic as nicotine sulfate. I don't know how that article got to be posted on the internet...I thought I sent that out several years ago as a private message (yes, I admit to being the "ID 10 T" that wrote it, Byron).
I noticed that while it was easy to ridicule me as an ignoramus, no "correct" LD50 values were provided, either. Allow me to suggest, for your information, that you look up the following links about nicotine:

MSDS for Nicotine (from UNSW Embryology -- ):

LD50 (IPR-MOUSE)(MG/KG) - 5.9
LD50 (IV-MOUSE) (MG/KG) - 0.81


Nicotine (Wikipedia):

"The LD50 of nicotine is 50 mg/kg for rats and 3 mg/kg for mice. 4060 mg can be a lethal dosage for adult human beings. This makes it an extremely deadly poison. It is more toxic than many other alkaloids such as cocaine, which has a lethal dose of 1000 mg."


From the Center of Disease Control (CDC):

(You'll need to go to the site, I can't print the table in plain text format)


MSDS of Nicotine -- from the Physical and Theoretical Chemistry Lab of Oxford University:

ORL-RAT LD50 50 mg kg-1
IPR-MUS LD50 5.9 mg kg-1
SKN-RBT LD50 50 mg kg-1
IVN-MUS LD50 0.8 mg kg-1
SKN-RAT LD50 140 mg kg-1


I am not in the employ of any chemical company, and most of my educational programming is directed toward reducing pesticide usage by both commercial and consumer horticulturists. I don't know everything and I don't claim to be perfect, but I don't appreciate people taking cheap shots at me, especially when they've obviously not done their own homework.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2006 at 12:30AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

larry_c_purdue: Welcome to the GardenWeb forums. I am by no means any kind of official greeter, but I sincerely appreciate new blood breathing life into the forums. Please look around the forum list and see what else you're interested in. Since 2001 I have not found a better place for gardening questions on the Internet.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2006 at 12:02PM
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In my not so humble opinion, he shares many very legitimate, reliable and scientifically sound gargening *principles* in his shows and books. You can learn as much or more from him than from anyone on Gardenweb. Some of his recipes tho give marginal results and have expensive ingredients. The items in his sales catalogs are generally overpriced.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2006 at 8:47AM
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My experience has been that Jerry Baker's presentations were thought provoking. Seeing them made me more open to the possibility that something other than commercial fertilizer could benefit my lawn and garden. There is certainly more to this than Jerry Baker presents, but he may be one point of beginning in other people's journey.


    Bookmark   December 22, 2006 at 6:53PM
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I'm with you, Byron. A little bit of common sense goes a long way. And the recipes you use are also the only one's of Baker's that I have found to have any value.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2006 at 8:46PM
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Note that in his concoctions he will tell you that you can use 1/2 the recommended amount poison to achieve the same results, but what he does not tell you is that lower dose will allow the pests to develop immunities to those poisons easier and that will then require stronger, more toxic poisons later to control the same insects.
The "formulas" for plant growth may well give short term better growth but long term they will do more harm than doing nothing at all. What in his "formulas" is there that promotes long term soil health?

    Bookmark   January 1, 2007 at 7:03AM
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I think the solution you used was the Flower Feeder Tonic. I gave it to my miniature roses and they did indeed jump out of the ground. And bloomed like crazy. I don't have the book in front of me right now but the ingredients that come to mind are hydrogen peroxide, whisky, corn syrup, dish soap, fish emulsion, a can of beer, and instant tea granules.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2007 at 3:29PM
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My husband and I have used two off Jerry's tonics for years with great success. One is the weed killer with gin in it. The other is the fertilizer mix for flowers with gypsum, lime, sugar, oatmeal, cat food and pet repellent. It's the best. The weed killer works great without killing the grass and does a wonderful job on dandelions. Our yard is the only one in the spring that is not covered with yellow dots everywhere. I am getting ready to try the deer repellent on the flowers. I'll let you know if that works. I guess you need to try for yourself and not listen to say these things don't work.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2008 at 11:33AM
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adirondackgardener(Western Maine)

What is in the "pet repellent?" Is it organic? After all, whether it works or not, this is an Organic Gardening forum.

Again, watch for the disclaimers on his PBS programs that come around this time of year announcing that chemical poisons he recommends in his videos have been banned for use and you'll see why there is resistance to him on this forum.


    Bookmark   June 16, 2008 at 8:38PM
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i think if you follow the directions, and DONT substitute, his stuff works just great! i have one of his books and i have used a few of his potions, the ones for the tomatoes, the different flowers food, and the rose food. they work great, never been disappointed yet. i think it just depends on who the person is and what their expectations are. what do YOU think is poison?? i'm used to making homemade things, i make homemade laundry soap, i prefer it this way!! so to me, i know exactly what is in this, i feel MUCH safer!! i'm at ease when i'm spraying these on my plants, i don't have to wonder, hmmm what's REALLY in this?? is it gonna hurt my babies?? what is this big word?? i always look up homemade repellants, homemade this and that, so to me, this is right at home!!! its not the person i like (although he is personable) its the recipes that work!! Medo :'))

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 1:03AM
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Jerry Baker and organic gardening are oxymorons.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 6:49AM
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i'm cool with that, but explain your self as in what is your meaning in the word oxymoron??? what does your definition of it mean?? not the dictionary's. i want to know what you are calling me. i don't mind being called a contradiction in terms. so please explain that to me so i can change that, i do not want to be non organic, geez i'm just learning this!! he** i don't wanta be all screwed up on it!! thank you medo

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 4:05PM
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Wow and I got into gardening to lose the drama!

After reading this thread, just for fun I made up one of Jerry's summer feedings... liquid lawn food, ammonia, dish soap, beer and coke. (I think I like the beer best, maybe my garden will have the fragrance of some of the frat parties I went to in college. Hummm on second thought maybe that isn't a good idea, I might start throwing up every time I'm picking my veggies. On third thought based on what Jerry keeps around his house, namely beer, whiskey, gin, tobacco, I think if the timing was better (namely 40 yrs we could have been good friends :) )

Anyway back to my garden fun, I then applied this tonic to only half of my veggie and shrub gardens. I guess I'll see for myself what happens as I compare the two halves. Send me an e-mail if you want to hear what happens.

Does anyone have the formula and application instructions for his rose food?

Hey everybody, start being nice, this is supposed to be the relaxing part of life right?


    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 4:04PM
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adirondackgardener(Western Maine)

I think you've seen that some people love the guy and do not like to have the old huckster maligned. Oh, well. This is an organic gardening forum and Baker never has had any history that I'm aware of promoting organic agriculture, from the early days of reportedly supporting the use of DDT to his promotion of Sevin and Roundup, to his recipe for killing tree suckers: any good weed killer with dish soap, vinegar and gin.

Mexican Bean Beetles: his website recommends that "to treat for these pests, you can use commercial controls such as Rotenone or Carbaryl (also known as Sevin)."

He's criticized for recommending using controlled or dangerous substances for which they are not registered for use. He's concocted recipes that include birth control pills.

His website recommends the fungicide thiram or mothballs to control moles, as well as rodenticides containing zinc phosphide. You can "control" your cats with those mothballs also.

The weed killer he was touting ("Only Available Through Jerry Baker") was shown to be a common chemical herbicide containing 2-4 D. The "unique formula" in his dog and cat repellent was found to be the same chemical as other repellants.

He's been severly criticized by the California State EPA not only regarding his formulas but the way he recommends you mix them, in food containers. (He does tell you to label them. So when you mix up one of his poison concoctions in a coke bottle, make sure your pre-schooler knows how to read the label carefully.)

Researchers, and horticulturalists have found his claims to be ridiculous and governmental regulators have found them to be unproven and at least once he has been ordered to change the claims he makes on some of his products.

More than one State Extension Service has noted that the guy who bills himself as "America's Master Gardener © is not part of any university program that runs the USDA's Master Gardener program. While thousands of people have earned the right to be called a Master Gardener through their study and hard work, Jerry Baker simply copyrighted the term.

He modestly describes is gardening knowledge on his website: "I eventually became Americaâs #1 expert on lawn, garden, and plant care."

Yeah, right.

If by directing us to "start being nice" you mean don't malign Jerry Baker on this forum, you're too late. America's Master Huckster © is no friend of organic gardeners. Never has been.


    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 10:48PM
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Ahh Wayne, I think you missed my point completely. My call to start being nice had nothing to do with Jerry or his honor but with the reputation of the person doing the maligning. I was more concerned with the demeanor of those doing the maligning and the affect this demeanor would have on others that are trying to enjoy their love of gardening. Hence my original comment about drama (see above).

Do we really want our reputation to be known as "one that maligns"? Or filling in the definition for the word malign... "one that makes evil, harmful, and often untrue statements about or speaks evil of.

Am I proud to be:
1. Evil in disposition, nature, or intent?
2. Evil in influence; injurious?
3. Having or showing malice or ill will; malevolent?"

I would hope our response is "No!"

Anyway I'll get off my soapbox now (cause I have to mix up another one of Jerry's tonics, and I need the soap :) jk

29 hrs after feeding half my garden, the applied half does in fact look cleaner... Tomorrow I'm going to rinse off the other half of the garden with just water to see if it is only the dirt removal that makes it look better.

One IDK what caused it note: Mr. Kringle, one of my 7" koi died last night (along with 3 goldfish). I hope it wasn't from over-spray of the feeding tonic. I wasn't very careful spraying around the pond since I didn't think it had any insecticides in it. Does anyone have any thoughts regarding fish and the ingredients I listed in my prior post?

Anyway it is fun making things grow.


    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 7:42PM
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galcho(z8 Northwest)

how your garden and pond are doing now?
Do you see difference on part where you have applied tonic?
I was using some tonics (being careful what goes in them) and like them. Actually i saved tomato this spring by using tonic with listerene and it worked against virus i had.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 4:13PM
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Too bad that the site below is closed for comments. I used to write something there, once a year or so.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2010 at 9:00PM
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Is Jerry Baker's recipe for lawn aerator (beer, soap + ammonia) useful? Somebody tried it?
Is it organic?

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 11:01AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

briergardener, there are two products on the market that mimic his recipe. One is Aerify which uses enzymes like those found in beer. The other is ... having a senior moment here... is it Nitron???, which uses soap. So yes, that recipe for that purpose may have some benefit.

If you are certified organic, then that is probably certifiable. But if you are just trying to use less chemicals in your garden, then it is relatively harmless to the soil microbes when compared to other things people use.

I simply use water to soften my soil. I use a soaker hose stretched out at least 75 feet. Then I turn the water on at the faucet at a drip rate of 1 cup per minute. That is very slow drip. I leave that on for a week all day and night. What that does is provide steady moisture under the soaker that will also allow air in. This is an ideal condition for beneficial fungi to grow. Those are the critters which soften your soil for you. Beer might help with that. Soap will only reduce the water surface tension and allow water to drift deeper into the soil. Ammonia is just nitrogen in very small doses.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 4:09PM
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This is why I am embracing Biodynamic Techniques a lot less comericalism and a lot more peace of mind.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 3:51AM
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What that Baker concoction does is stimlates the Soil Food Web you have in your soil so they more rapidly depelete the organic matter in your soil to feed the plants today. ie. it causes you to rob tomorrows fertility for small benefit today, unless you generously replace that organic matter.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2010 at 8:30AM
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As a young teen I remember Kmart offering black & white folders with Jerry's suggestions as they used him as a spokes
person for their Lawn & Garden dept. I've used many of his
concoctions and in my Opinion his ideas were good for those times. The eighties and on.

Organic as we have it today wasn't that common except for those who subscribed to Organic Gardening magazine and followed those suggestions they published.

I use the Public Library collection of Gardening Books and
can tell you that there are several well worn Jerry Baker
Books in the collections. His distractors can say what they
will about him being a quack and not ligit, but I'll speak
for what his attempt to show beginner gardeners and fruit orchard growers that they could do with common chemicals for pennies. My Grand Mother used to read her women's magazines when I was a little kid and get similar tips
for using common soda in water to "sweeten" soil, (adjust the PH) or using left over Alum disolved in water from the canning season to acidify the soil of the house plants.

Before Baker I was buying so much stuff from Chevron/Ortho,
and Rapid Gro, Virgo, and other such chemical fertilizer
or insecticide vendors. Then again, I don't walk around my place with a badge on my shirt that states that I'm a "Master Gardener". I just don't take this stuff that seriously.

In my orchard of 30 trees I've been buying "beneficial incects" which prey on pest insects. Lacewings, Trichogramma wasp, Lady Bugs, Praying Mantis, etc.
I have bat boxes in the maple trees & Purple Martin boxes
to keep those beneficial birds around my place so I don't have to use a fogger or any more chemicals than necessary.

But thinking this way all goes back to my having read Jerry Baker's stuff.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2010 at 11:33PM
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Since Bakers concoctions use materials unacceptable to organic gardeners he cannot be thought of as a source of information for any organic gardener. No matter haow many people read his books, no matter how many people use his concoctions, his advise is not acceptables to any organic gardener. If you use synthetic fertilizers or pesticides at all you are not an organic gardener/farmer.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 6:44AM
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Dan Staley

So, folks looking for ideas can't read Baker because some of his mixtures contain petrochemicals? Would-be organic gardeners can't use his organic concoctions because others are not? Srsly?



    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 9:29AM
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Some of us didn't drink the Kool-Aid.

I agree with Dan. If you refuse to read information which might contain something you won't choose to do, then you seriously limit your ability to learn.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 2:06PM
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novice_2009(zone 6b)

Some of suggestions in the book I bought for waaaaay too much money are helpful and economical. I said some.
Using coffe grounds, leftover coffee, vingegar, baking soda, aluminum foil to help deflect more light to plants started inside from seed, leftover aluminum and baking soda to clean birdbath, etc. have been good for me. Not all suggestions I'd use, but many were great to a novice on a budget. Just don't BUY the book. Get it from your library, mine didn't have it.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 2:57PM
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Dan Staley

Just don't BUY the book. Get it from your library

Perfect encapsulation.


    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 4:13PM
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