Jerry Baker's recipes

leaveswave(.)October 2, 2003

It seems he has a recipe for everything, but he doesn't explain them...information hoarder! ;-)

I'd like to know why a particular ingredient is included in a particular recipe. Anyone have any sources for this type of information to share?

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Rosa(4ish CO Rockie)

Well, the soap and/or oils smother many insects. Beer, molassas and the like are high in sugars and are supposed to feed soil microbes. Ammonia is a form of nitrogen.
Personally, I find that these ingredients in the forms he uses are pretty expensive compared to commercial products. And who would want to waste the beer on plants, lol??

    Bookmark   October 3, 2003 at 7:46AM
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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

I find a lot of his recipes are more-or-less like the common "old-timers' recipes," just with measurements (a teaspoon or a cup or a pint) instead of saying "a handful." The old-timers seemed to base their recipes on cumulative experience, which may or may not be effective in different situations.

On some of items, you probably won't find an explanation for why they work in the garden because there are few or no scientific studies to determine *why* something is effective. Especially when in a garden. Some items do have simplified explanations, like the nitrogen in ammonia or the yeast in beer being effective in certain situations.

It seems to me that we have a tendency to rely on outside sources to determine *why* something is effective when dealing with the plant world. Some of these sources are provided (directly or indirectly) by chemical companies as part of their research andd development programs; some sources of information are provided by universities/colleges as part of, or due to, their agricultural studies; and some are what I think of as 'officially cumulative' such as Wise's Garden Encyclopedia or other published compendiums. None of these are going to be of much use for explanations of anything other than the simplest factors (i.e. nitrogen/ammonia) because A) determining 'why' requires long-term scientific research which takes a great deal of time and care (and, therefore, a lot of money) to determine which element in which item actually causes the looked-for effect; and B) the companies/business which are willing to pay for that type of research are not likely to spend their money discovering 'why' a commonly available household product is effective when they could being finding out something different which would make a profit. You can find many answers through the studies by various universities but you do have to be careful in considering exactly what they were studying as well as what they were expecting to prove or disprove. You can also find many answers in the available reference materials including garden encyclopedias, although you will probably also find that the popularly published references are more inclined to state what works rather than why it works.

In most cases, if you really want to know WHY something works, it will likely be helpful to have a close acquaintance with bio-chemistry!

If you just want to know whether or not it works, I find 'cumulative experience' combined with personal experimentation most helpful. So check with a reference book, aggie study, on-line, a neighbor, or even take a JB recipe and try it out on your lawn or garden, keeping record of all the influencing details (temperature, rainfall, time of year, etc.)... You may not know WHY it works, but you'll learn what is best for *your* garden whether it is conventional or not.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2003 at 2:00PM
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I have one of his books and I use several of his recipes, my favorite being the one for new transplants called "transplant tonic". It works wonders, I have gotten a lot of trades here on GW, and some looked like death warmed over, but I put the plants roots into a pot of his tonic and away they went and are now growing fantastic.
Beer gives them vitamins, as does the ammonia, instant tea granules give them tanic acid, dish soap or baby shampoo helps to soften the roots so they can absorb the nutrients better, etc. I use the generic brands of just about everything and the cost is minimal.
I love his book and his tonics, I don't care how they work as long as they work.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2003 at 7:12PM
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I've used his formula to transplant new roses to the garden, some have flourished, some haven't and I've had the same ratio of luck with those roses I didn't use it on. I've found with any plant, as long as you feed it enough, but not too much and it has plenty of water, but not too much, it will do well. So I pray for an inch of rain a week and put out the food when I feel they need it. And you can't go wrong with neem oil, etc. I really like Jerry Baker's concoctions, to me they're pretty cheap if you don't have acres to treat, but I do sometimes tend toward the lazy gardener... its easier to put one ingredient in and mix with water than 5 or 10.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2004 at 9:39PM
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Juspeachy, I would be so grateful if you could give me the recipe for that 'transplant tonic' since I don't think I can get hold of that book in France.
Good gardening .

    Bookmark   March 13, 2004 at 7:38AM
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I used to have a collection of Jerry Baker pamphlets that I purchased from public television. I have looked all over for them and think they were accidently disposed of :(
If anyone has his recipe for lawn fertilizer, I would love to have it. (It contains beer and I just can't remember the recipe.) Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2004 at 8:00PM
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Be careful with his recipes. Some of them will kill things you want like earthworms. Others are harmless. Never use the recipes that contain tobacco.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2004 at 4:12PM
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wow, guess I have a lot to learn about plants. Or maybe Mr. Baker full of malarky?

from juspeachy, "Beer gives them vitamins, as does the ammonia, instant tea granules give them tanic acid, dish soap or baby shampoo helps to soften the roots so they can absorb the nutrients better, etc."

I had no idea that plants took vitamins. Can anyone outline what vitamins plants take and how they are absorbed? Or how roots are "softened" by soap to increase nutrient absorption. I would be interested in any botany/horitculture literature that supports these statements.

thank you kindly, TBMG

    Bookmark   August 2, 2004 at 5:11PM
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N-P-K are all vitamins. Some other nutrients plants require include: Calcium,Magnesium, Sulfur, Zinc, Manganese, Iron, Copper, and Boron. I suspect if you knew the chemical composition of beer, ammonia (actually, I believe that one is NH4 - hey, N(itrogen)), etc you'd know better if there was any validity to his ideas. Or you could set up your own experiments, with controls, of course, to see how they work out for you. If you don't care to do that, I'm sure you could find lots of research-based info supporting or disproving his recommendations by doing an advanced google search and limiting your results to sites with an ".edu" extension. Best wishes, and, you're welcome very kindly.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2004 at 9:54PM
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jkw7aj(z8a (Sunset 5))

N, P and K are elements. They, as well as the mineral elements (i.e. sulfur, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, manganese, etc.) are nutrients -- what plants require to grow and thrive (or just survive). Plants don't use vitamins, as such (A, E, C, B-complex), they produce them. Some people use B-1 with the idea that it helps plants avoid, or overcome, transplant shock, but there's little evidence that this is effective, and quite a bit to suggest that it isn't.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2004 at 12:02PM
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well said jkwaj.

so anything used as plant fertilizer is broken down into its constituate elements and then the indiviual elements are absorbed by the plants.

plants to not aborb compounds like vitamins and as a result these compounds do not perform any function for the plant beyond providing the basic elements from which they are comprised

good day all!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2004 at 5:27PM
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Simon_AL(z8 Alabama)

I have a notebook somewhere, likely story right, that has a few tonics in it. I will just have to locate it. Copied them down when Baker had a show on PBS.

One thing I can say is that Soap is used to reduce surface tension. It allows the sprays to hold instead of just beading off plants or soil. If you buy a potting mix and it says it has a Water Tension reducer or something like that, they added a little soap to the mix. Dish Detergent also contains Phosphorus, so it gives plants some fertilizer there too.

Your library should have a book or two on Baker. I know mine has several. Also, some people have posted the tonics on the web, you may be able to find them with a search.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2004 at 9:33AM
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Hummingangel(8b SC)

My fiance' bought me one of Jerry Baker's books. There were 2 different Transplanting Tonics in them.

Transplant Tonic

When dividing perennials, soak the best rooted pieces in this Tonic for about 10 minutes just before replanting them.
1 can of beer
1/4 cup of instant tea granules
2 tbsp. of liquid dish soap
2 gal. of water
When you're finished transplanting, use a small pail to scoop up any leftover Tonic and dribble it around the new transplants.

Tree Transplanting Tonic

1/3 cup of hydrogen peroxide
1/4 cup of instant tea granules
1/4 cup of whiskey
1/4 cup of baby shampoo
2 tbsp. of fish fertilizer
Mix all of these ingredients with 1 gallon of warm water in a bucket, and pour it into the hole when you transplant a tree or a shrub.

Hope this helps you out, Arina!


    Bookmark   August 26, 2004 at 10:53AM
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weebus(Z8 Sunset 5 WA)

ammoniacal nitrogen Vs. Urea Nitrogen VS. Nitrate Nitrogen. Which nitrogen is it? Not all nitrogen is created equal. Just because it is nitrogen, doesn't mean it is good for your plants. Ammoniacal nitrogen will make them grow fast, but then are you giving them enough calcium? It's all a balance. How much urea is in his recipes? Is there enough minors? Some of his recipes work, some do not.

Funny thing is, I find that those who think they really work have the least amount of horticulural knowledge compared to those don't think they work.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2004 at 12:17AM
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One of his little formulae brought be some profit one year. NO....I didn't put it on my plants, but I got to sell a lot of replacement plants to a greenhouse who did. rofl. I think it was one with listerine in it. I had a few indignant women come for replacement plants their spouses had murdered using it. Lots of red faces. Thanks for the memories.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2004 at 12:25AM
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jannie(z7 LI NY)

I watched Jerry Baker on public TV, talking about all his recipes allegedly learned from his grandmother. I was all set to order his books, but a very experienced gardener who I respect told me his stuff is just a lot of malarkey. She told me the best plants come from enriched natural soil,not a lot of chemicals you pour on. The best fertilizer is aged horse manure. Pouring shampoo,beer, and other products on your soil is just a waste. my $.02

    Bookmark   August 28, 2004 at 1:13PM
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Hummingangel(8b SC)

Thanks for the follow-ups to the tonic recipes, Gang! I think I will follow your advice and NOT use his recipes on my plants! I guess my fiance' just wasted his money. :(


    Bookmark   September 1, 2004 at 8:26AM
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Your fiance' was just thinking of his love and what she loves :-). I too purchased one of Jerry Bakers books. Even though I wouldn't go with all of the tonics, there is still some good information between the covers that would help and also give you some good ideas. Use your discretion.


    Bookmark   September 2, 2004 at 1:20PM
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byron(4a/5b NH)


My guess that 99% of the failed JB recipies are from users failure to read and follow instructions.

IE Using soap, the old fashioned dishsoap or baby shampoo, Folks had made their plants sick using Ultra or Anti bacterial soap, or PT409, NOT Bakers fault.

I know one that is supposed to be 1 TBSP of clorox in 5 gal of water, the user used half clorox and half water, That is not Bakers fault.

He had a mole control in essence was 1 cup of castor oil in a 20 gal hose end jar with 3 cups of water. ( 1 qt) apply every 2 weeks, One person used 1 qt of castor oil in the hose end sprayer, applied daily, then complained her lawn stunk. This is not Bakers fault.

One gal complained that her 7 year old brother drank some tobacco juice, Baker did not leave the Tobacco juice where her brother could reach it, her parents did, Take personal responsiblity for your own mistakes. ( be thankful it wasn't Sevin)

I have seen about 50 of these, each problem was the user mix.

So before I condem it, I want to know what's his formula, and exactly what you used and how often did you use it.


    Bookmark   September 17, 2004 at 7:49PM
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weebus(Z8 Sunset 5 WA)

Sorry Byron, but if you use dishsoap on your plants, you are running the risk of burning the leaves. Period. Castor oil mixed 1:19 isn't going to drive moles out of your yard. Coke on a plant will spread fungus and give it food to grow on. Do I need to go on?

    Bookmark   September 17, 2004 at 9:22PM
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byron(4a/5b NH)


I have been using Bakers Tobacco Juice, Dishsoap bug spray for over 10 years. My average cost is $1 per year. It works and IMHO the safest bug spray out there.

This formula I have traced back over 70 years..

Dish detergent will burn your plants, However, if you apply, wait 5 min and then rinse your plants you can use it.

I have used the clorox and sprite solution for many years on P.M. It works.

I have used the weak tea formula for seed starting, for about 10 years, 10 years ago I talked to a gal in our local
feed dealers, she ( about 50 ish) said her grandmother used tea for seed starting.

As someone above said, he also had some very unusual tips that no one else offers.

Example tying up pole beans in a garden ~ Put a coffee can under each step ladder leg.

Got a bunch of potted flowers, not exactly sure of how to arrange them, Almost bury the pots in the soil, then stand back and look..

Do you do annuals? Leave them in pots, almost burry the
pots, When the earlies die, replace with mid season, then replace with fall

I used his Knox gelatin mix for Gardenia, It worked, the the plant bloomed, but after 2 weeks the mix really stunk.


There are too many good tips to tottaly ignore him.

BUT I havn't followed his stuff since he sold out to Mircale Gro and placing human urine in almost everything.

The reason for coke, is to add a small amount of phosphours
Read the preservative..

Tea, check the available micronutrients
Dog food, check amount of calcium available
Beer, find micronutients in beer. A homebrew is better, dregs (trub) from a homebrew is the best.

Diazinon works to kill grubs in the lawn, so that moles will move on, BUT you also take a chance of killing a small child or pet.


    Bookmark   September 18, 2004 at 11:43AM
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Rosa(4ish CO Rockie)

Anything containing nicotine is not exactly "safe". It is a powerful and lethal poison to both bugs and humans. Period. Yes I use soap and water spray for aphids and other bugs but not dish detergent per se-I still use ivory soap (no perfunes, not an anti-bacterial soap). It works without the nicotine and is safer. If you want to get right down to it, the only safe bug killers are plain water or hand picking.

Dog food is hardly a cheap source of calcium, and neither is coke a cheap source of phosphorus. Either nutrient/element can be released for absorption by maintaining proper pH levels, and feeding the soil with compost/mulch.

Tea?? Well it can hurt. But I've never had serious germination problems and no problems with damping off. My seedling/plants are stocky and healthy. They bloom just fine.

Beer?? Why waste the stuff on plants??

Btw, the sprite has nothing to do with keeping PM in check, it's the clorox.

He does have some unusual tips for sure, but many can be found in old almanacs, gardening books and talking to old timers. No fee necessary!!

    Bookmark   September 18, 2004 at 7:49PM
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byron(4a/5b NH)


The amount of nicotine used in that bug spray is a minimum of 1/98,307th of that deemed fit for human consumption, Whats the toxic level?

If your only going to grow 6 tomato plants, 6 cups of dry dog food is cheaper than a bag of lime (plus finding dry storage) plus gas to go get it. Using dog food in potted plants, where normal sources of calcium are not available.

Yup pre 1990 something the Baker collection of formula's were just that, a collection of hand-me-downs that worked.
BTW in 1990 you could get his books at K-Mart for $1.95

In a small garden, a couple cans of coke, consider amount kids waste, is cheap. You can even use what they waste.

Beer, save the left overs, but I only used a couple cans a year.

Using sprite with the clorox appears to work better, I tried it both ways. Pole beans don't like clorox only.

Just my experience


    Bookmark   September 18, 2004 at 10:29PM
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Rosa(4ish CO Rockie)

LOL, Byron!

There is absolutely no exposure to nicotine in any form that is considered safe and there is absolutely no level of nicotine that is deemed fit for human consumption.

safe is relative. Using LD50 numbers, nicotine with an LD 50 of 55 is far less safe than Sevin with an LD50 of 866.
Would i use Sevin? NO, just like I would not use home brew nicotine spray (ironic since i do smoke).

Is Sevin safer than a home brew nicotine spray?? Depends.
But it is not the safest bug killer as you state. That would be plain water or hand picking.

Baker neglects any science beind his remedies, offers it out as if all need it regardless of their situatuion (I have alkaline soil so do I need lime or dog food for my tomato plants? According to Baker I do). And he seems to neglect other bonifide remedies for simple problems like compost, mulch, good sanitation, proper air circulation, hand picking of insects, proper watering, etc., etc...

The moral: answers that appear to be too simple and too good, probably are.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2004 at 8:56AM
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Amen. I don't worry about the LD50 of home brew tobacco pesticides, I worry about the very high probability that they'll infect a score of plants with tobacco mosaic virus. It's like asking the wolf to watch the flock of sheep.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2004 at 2:35PM
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byron(4a/5b NH)


If you use Chewing, cigar or pipe tobacco, Every plant grown is TMV resistant, Burliegh tobacco has been TMV free for over 40 years. ( RE Plant Pathologist, UKY, NCSU, UMASS and Phillip Morris)

In Cigarette tobacco, is 0.237% contains TMV
(One 640 acre farm in NC)

US Crop.


    Bookmark   September 19, 2004 at 6:25PM
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weebus(Z8 Sunset 5 WA)

But tobacco isn't necessarily a US crop anymore, and both smokers at work must wash their hands after smoking a cigarette just becasue of MTV

    Bookmark   September 19, 2004 at 6:31PM
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byron(4a/5b NH)


That warning was issued in 1896 over 100 years ago when 80% of the worlds tobacco crop was infected and smokers rolled their own.

I know folks that have smoked and handled crops for over 3 generations with no problem

Dr Male and I have smoked and handled crops for over 1/2 century with no problems.

Oregon reports an "recent outbreak" of TMV in a greenhouse from a smoker, guess what, that happened in 1949, Before most of you were born. Of course Oregon is 2000 miles + away from tobacco growing.

NMSU, major info center for Chile Peppers says that TMV is no longer a disease on concern.

BTW there are over 36 strains of TMV affecting over 2,500 species of plants. TMV is a rod cell.

TMV can be spread by sucking and chewing insects like aphids

TMV can live in plant debris for over 50 years.

TMV can be stopped by burying infected plants

Geraniums can host 3 different strains of TMV

The paper on a cig butt is enough isolation to prevent transfer of TMV. To tranfer TMV you must handle the tobacco like in rolling your own cig's

Insects will not transfer TMV from a cig butt to plants, Those inscets only live on live plants, not dead ones

BUT if you have a live plant with TMV like horse nettle or datura, you can transfer that on your hands, clothes, tools or even your dogs tail

And as Jerry Baker once wrote, change your shoes and clothes before walking in your neighbors garden and your own. Do not use your neighbors garden tools. This was to prevent the spread of TMV. It's a 100 year old hand-me-down

One of my fav. sayings by Jerry Baker was

"If it works, use it: If it don't, try something else"

Odds are if you have TMV its from seed borne disease from the SE section of the US


    Bookmark   September 19, 2004 at 8:29PM
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weebus(Z8 Sunset 5 WA)

First you are assuming they don't roll their own. I know one does, the other I have no idea. I am tired of arguing the point.

The point is, the person qwho asked the original question, long ago had his question answered.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2004 at 10:18PM
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byron(4a/5b NH)


Just trying to correct 2 very common misunderstandings
about using tobacco as a bug spray.


    Bookmark   September 20, 2004 at 10:36AM
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nckvilledudes(7a NC)

Just as a point of information, there are safe levels of nicotine. If there weren't, the FDA wouldn't allow the sale of tomatoes, potatoes, black teas, and instant teas since they contain measureable concentrations of nicotine.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2004 at 12:39PM
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Hello Jerry
My name is Don and I am into making compost and And would like to ask you for your help, Some were i read that if you mix beer ammonia and 1 gallon of water is a good compost acceilerator. Is this ok to do . and then after to keep compost going to use coke dish soap and other things I cant rember . So if you could help me . Send me the recipes please

    Bookmark   November 7, 2004 at 1:45PM
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I think the recipe in his book for compost accelerator was
1/4 cup beer, 1/4 cup ammonia in a 5 gallon bucket filled
with water.


    Bookmark   November 10, 2004 at 8:30PM
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I've been using the mixture of 4 tbs. baking soda and 2 tbs. murphy's oil soap to one gallon of water to spray on my plants with powdery mildew and it's working great. I haven't had any problems with it burning and kills the mildew as well as I've found a store bought product to work.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2004 at 5:45PM
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Rosa(4ish CO Rockie)

We are talking about nicotine in the context of Jerry bakers tobacco juice bug spray-not eating a tomato (but I think you know that). There are no safe standards for Arsenic either but it naturally occurs in the fruit of some fruits.
In that context then I will stand by my statement. There are no FDA sanctioned, safe amounts of nicotine.
For your reading pleasure I have included a link below.
Nicotine solutions that are strong enough to kill bugs are not safe for humans!

Here is a link that might be useful: tobacco bug juice discussion

    Bookmark   November 13, 2004 at 7:40AM
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Rosa(4ish CO Rockie)

sorry...should have said in the pits of some fruits like apricots and peaches

    Bookmark   November 13, 2004 at 7:42AM
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nckvilledudes(7a NC)

Rosa, I don't think I would count on the FDA to give you reliable information about many things considering the grilling they are taking for allowing Vioxx on the market in light of the current situation.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2004 at 11:31AM
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Jerry Baker - America's Master Quackster; it makes me almost physically ill every Sunday morning, when I hear the intro music for his show. Have to rush over & change radio stations. I can't listen to his baloney.

Every perceived problem somebody has with a plant needs to be sprayed with a mixture of Murphy's Oil Soap, baby shampoo, lemon-scented dishwashing detergent, Listerine, beer, ammonia, tobacco juice, and hot pepper extract?(Or at least some of these - and every problem ALWAYS gets the three soaps) I think not! Heck, most of the stuff that folks call in about is not even really a problem.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2004 at 4:02PM
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In reply to Janne's message about using aged horse manure. I lived in Maryland for 27 years. At my last home there, I had a fruit tree in the front yard that, in 12 years, left more or less neglected, grew from about 3ft to 4 1/2 ft in height and never had a fruit (I wasn't even sure what it was). I purchased a truck load of horse manure and straw mixture that had aged for several years. This was applied as mulch on EVERYTHING growing in the yard in the late summer. That tree, by spring, had grown about a 1 1/2 ft taller, bloomed, and put on more plums than we could use. I gave plums to neighbors and took some to work to give away. I called that mixture a real "MIRACLE GROW". Just remember, AGED is important as freen (i.e., fresh) horse manure can burn plants.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2005 at 8:31AM
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OOPS, that should have read "green", not "freen" horse manure...

    Bookmark   June 4, 2005 at 8:35AM
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byron(4a/5b NH)


This is #1 problem

everyone treats Nicotine spray the same as nicotine sulfate.

If cigs or chewing tobacco was that deadly folks would be dead from using it.

- > A letter from Larry Caplan, county extension agent in
> Indiana, on the subject:
> "Master Gardeners
> I've tried to stay out of the Jerry Faker (er,
> Baker) thread, because
> the last time I weighed in on it on the Hort AGents
> list, I found my
> comments archived, and subject to review by every
> Baker acolyte on the
> 'net. For years, I'd get these out-of-the-blue (and
> sometimes vicious)
> postings from his disciples.
> 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 a tobacco leaf, so he ASSumed that a tobacco leaf had the same LD 50 as and manufactured, concentrated mix, Like comparing a stick of dynamite to an Atom bomb,

If tobacco was that deadly they couldn't sell it

Item 2 Hde asked for a University Study, If you found something like cornmeal that is effective against fungus could you afford $1 to $5 million for a "University Study"

He wants everthing on a label. GMO's are not on a label, The USDA doesn't allow it, Does Cow flop, bunny boo, marigolds and dragonflies have a label? Ergo per him you can not grow organicaly, buy everything from Monsanto et al.

Jerry Baker isn't 100% right, neither is the USDA



    Bookmark   June 10, 2005 at 5:47PM
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Rosa(4ish CO Rockie)

Point taken Byron but, "If cigs or chewing tobacco was that deadly folks would be dead from using it."
Gee silly me, I thought they were dying from the use of both!!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2005 at 7:17PM
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byron(4a/5b NH)

They are dying

I Know, I just quit a 55 year cig habit

If the true LD 50 was 55 I would have been dead 50 something years ago.

But what you are missing is the consuption rate and true LD 50 rate

I was at 5 packs a day I still am not showing any cancer, I know someone that was at 6 packs a day and has had most of his organs removed.

Someone needs to compile a bunch of data

"When is nicotine lethal?"

I am sure it is a lot higher than the Baker mix


    Bookmark   June 11, 2005 at 10:43PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I would think that a yard sprayed with the typical (whacky) Baker Brew would smell like a frat party, a successful one at that. Besides all of the durn yellow jackets and wasps enjoying the beer and 7 UP! Crazy.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2005 at 4:18PM
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wen1(z5 MI)

When I was a beginner in gardening, just six years ago, I spent an awful lot of money mixing and concocting... I don't think it was worth it. I 'm not sure if any of it helped. I still had many pest and disease problems.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2005 at 12:38AM
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My sis uses the tonic recipe on her 3-year-old lawn in Colorado. She says she has the greenest lawn around for miles in that altitude and climate.

To appy: Spray very FAST--everything, lawn, bushes, trees--then spray again with the remaining formula, which will be more dilute, then spray everything again with plain water.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2006 at 3:29PM
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P.S. My sis uses the tonic that DOESN"T have tobacco in it--just thought I'd add that for the folks who get so much heartburn about it.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2006 at 3:35PM
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Jerry Baker is a charlatan who makes up his stuff on the go.
His recipes are as eccentric as can be. He made a lot of money selling books and stuff 30 years ago before his suggestions got so far out of the mainstream of science and common sense. His time is over. Let's just move on and let him do his thing as long as he is able.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2006 at 2:56AM
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jannie(z7 LI NY)

I have read many of Jerry Baker's claims. He says you should dump just about anything on your soil as plant food-soap,beer,whiskey,shampoo,urine,ammonia,etc. Yet anyone who knows about plants knows fertilizers contain three ELEMENTS: nitrogen,phosphorous, and potassium. Hey,my dog urinates on my lawn but I don't see increased growth on the spots she wets. Also, it is well known that Jerry Baker is the best fund raiser for TV stations. He's a SALESMAN, folks! You are better off making a compost pile of vegetable scraps,use compost tea as fertilizer, put shampoo on your head, and drink the beer and whiskey yourself.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2006 at 1:01PM
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just thought i'd share

Here is a link that might be useful: Jerry Baker's Tips & Tonics

    Bookmark   September 29, 2006 at 9:21PM
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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 12:29AM
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Hello all!
This is not a reply to a previous post, but I did not know where to start a new thread.
We have an almond tree that produces a lot of nuts almost every year. However, I am yet to try one. The squirrels get them all.THis year I've decided to go to war with these little beasts. I found the concoction in Jerry Baker's book BUG OFF for spraying the trere with. mixed all the ingredients and put them in the hand-held spayer( as recommended by Mr. Baker) Does not work. I guess, chili powder clogs the opening. SO, I tryed one used with the garden hose - no results. CLean water sprays the tree, the mix stays in the jar. Please, help!. Or, maybe, someone knows better way to prevent squirrels from cleaning out my nuts harvest.
Thank you very much!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2007 at 11:08PM
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I have to agree with Byron and others here.
First off the naye sayers,most likely havent used these JB ideas.I have for 15 years..
there much cheaper & safer then ANY chemical on the market.Tobbacco,yup,used for many years,soap, Lemon scented dosh soap is what he says,and when USED AS DIRECTED is safe.
In the old days, there wasnt any of these MFG'ed Chemicals and Grandma Putt ued what worked..
wash water from Grandmas wash water useing homemade soaps & lyes were always dumped into the garden,with fantastic results.many folks wont use, because of being lazy,skeptical or never tried.
I have lotsa comments on my garden,even my Doctor uses JB ideas,has a 5 gal jug in shed to hold urine..
Dont knock this,until you tried, per instructions and documented this.
another thought is that we whom do these ideas, are spending more time in our Yardens,so we know more of what is going on and we keep records.we expieriment also.
These are not poisons,like store bought chemicals
if you use grubex or any thing like this, you will get rid of grubs & yard worms too, which you dont want to.My yards crawl with the nitecrawlers, keeps it areated and leaf matter broke down and nutrients from way down deep brought up.
bottom line.always follow directions.
always keep records
im not a Master Gardner,ive been told I have more knowledge about Yardening then most MG's,i have Mg's asking me advice and wanting me to join there garden clubs all the time.
If your into Grapes, its hard to follow a extension srvice prune guide, but if you go to a winery and find out exactly how they do it and volunteer a day to help prune, you will gather a ton of knowledge,Pruning Grapes is a all season continous ploy!!!
so,i hope not ot offend, but to shed lite.....:)try it,keep records,have a test plot. I do .

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 3:03PM
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the-light-lady(Michigan 4)

I am looking for Jerry Baker's recipe for tomato blight.
I think it has baking soda in it.
I have one of his books but I can't locate it right now. :(
Also, how can I get rid of moles?
Thank you!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 6:52PM
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light lady - this is a link to some of his tonics. Maybe you can find what you are looking for here...

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 9:03PM
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My 2 cents...In reading this thread I see that the majority of those negative people with negative results are also those who can't follow instructions. I had a neighbor who wondered how I didn't have bugs in my trees but his was full of them. I told him of the JB tonic I was using and gave him the directions how to mix and USE it and he promptly went home and killed a small portion of his tree (thank God he did a test patch) because he took a short cut and put it in a spray bottle and not a 20 gallon hose end sprayer where it would have been diluted down to the proper dosage. When he corrected himself he got positive results. I may be anal but I follow the directions to the "T" and get wonderful results. I don't understand all the worry about nicotine because as far as I can remember JB doesn't tell you to spray your food garden with it, and it doesn't kill bugs it drives them away (READ ALL, I don't think JB has any tonic that kills just drives away). It works when used properly on trees and other parts of your yardening. I know this is a website to come get advice and help, but remember to use your own better judgment. If you don't want to use tobacco in your gardening then don't, but don't advise everyone else not too because you have issues with tobacco. It just may be the answer they are looking for. When used right.

Happy Gardening

    Bookmark   April 26, 2009 at 11:52AM
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You may have answered my question. It's that time of year again where I'm organizing myself to begin a "regular" maintenance program in my yarden, and I always want to "improvise" JB formulas to use the various sprayer items I already own. But I've never been able to figure out how to convert his recipes to use a container other than his (for example) 20-gal hose end sprayer. I assume you own his set of 3 sprayers and use them exclusively?

Thanks for any info!
Tess, Redford, Michigan

    Bookmark   May 27, 2009 at 3:02PM
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With a little math you don't need any specific sprayer. I use an adjustable Ortho sprayer with a 32-oz jar, and spray-rates up to 8-oz per gallon. (And I bought a separate one for the rare cases I use pesticides or weedkillers, and spray painted it red so I wouldn't mix em up)

The idea is that you use all the concoction in 20 gallons of water. So, if you set the sprayer on the 1-oz setting (2-tbsp), and have 20-oz of mixture, when the mixture is all gone you will have sprayed 20 gallons of water.

So to get the rate you set on the sprayer, you just divide the amount of liquid ounces by 20 gallons.

For example:
20 oz / 20 gal = 1 oz/gal
32 oz / 20 gal = 1.6 oz/gal
40 oz / 20 gal = 2 oz/gal

My Ortho has some smaller settings in tsp and tbsp, so I need to know that conversion -
1 tbsp is 0.5 ounces (or 1 oz is 2 tbsp)
1 tsp is 1/6 oz (or 1 oz is 6 tsp)

Sometimes you don't get a number that matches your sprayer settings, but you can either let it slide if it's not too much, or adjust the amount of liquid in the sprayer by adding water until you get what you need.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 11:17AM
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Natrous 5 you explain that so well. I have a small lot-around 500 sq ft(front yard 1s 200, back is 300). How many oz of the miracle tonic(beer, coke,ammonia, dish detergent,mouthwash) should I use. Are there smaller sprayers? Or do I adjust it.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 4:49PM
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petzold6596(8b southern NM)

PUT IT TO REST!!!!!!!!!!! Let this thread die!!!

    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 9:09PM
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Weekender-64 , you are so right. I am trying to use my own judgement but just thought I'd ask. I just did not know how to compute this formula for my size of yard. This a great forum on this recipe and gives good advice.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2009 at 3:41PM
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Why this thread should be put to rest?
I think that Baker's tonics better than things that we can find in stores. If some people got bad results because they were not using them correctly does not mean that they are bad. We are not saying that wine is bad for us if some people become drunks.
I think we should educate people how to use things properly instead of saying that they are bad. Anti-bacterial dish soap is bad for garden but we can't say it about all kinds of soap.
Urine: it even allowed to be used on organic farms.
Come on, people.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2010 at 7:43PM
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So, I have been given a JB book from a gardener friend of mine when I asked her how she got her lawn and flowers so fantastic. I have since been reading about JB and his many tonics. It is interesting to see so many posts that traverse the scale of love and hate. Obviously if you are a master gardner and there are liability issues, I can understand the issue. I also understand the issue of labeling. Of course dish soap is not meant for a lawn - it's dish soap! That does not mean there is harm to using it on something else. Hell, I use dish soap in my washing machine to strip cloth diapers - works fabulously! I agree with those that say to experiment and see what works and what doesn't. What is crazy to me is the venom in which people argue whether something is toxic or lethal. The air we breath is toxic! I find the topic of tobacco interesting. Anything in moderation is usually fine, anything in excess (even vegetables and fruit!) can have adverse effects. It's called common sense. I also think it is very interesting to see how many people shoot down these tonics because they are "dangerous." How many lakes are unswimmable in spring and summer because of toxic runoff from household chemicals used on the lawn and indoors? How many of you have toxic chemicals to clean your house? Did you know that using certain mopping chemicals causes liver damage in cats if they lick the floor. Most household chemicals are extremely toxic to children and will kill them if ingested, yet we use them all the time! But we are going to fight over whether dish soap or tobacco is toxic to a yard or those playing in it? How many people smoke? How many people smoke around children? Come on everyone. Choose those products that you feel are best for you personally and leave those that choose differently alone. I would love to yell at those that smoke on the sidewalks as my children pass through - after all, they are killing my children. But do I, no. I cannot control what others do, I can only steer clear of them. Let this be a forum for those that would like to try the tonics and get information. If you have had negative results, share your opinion in a friendly manner - and be truthful about why. Jeez.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2010 at 2:51PM
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Maybe we should share on this forum some JB recipes that we have successfully used.
I like to use Grass Clipping Dissolving tonic:
1 can of beer,
1 cup of ammonia,
1 cup of dishwashing soap (NOT anti-bacterial)
for 20 gl of water

    Bookmark   April 25, 2010 at 8:58AM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

I never heard of Jerry Baker till this thread, and I am curious. It would be fun to read recipes that actually work! I have used soap and water for aphids for a long time. I'm thinking of using some beer mixed with sun tea for my new grape vine cuttings. Wonder if that will help or hinder?

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 11:17AM
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pippi21(Z7 Silver Spring, Md.)

Bet Jerry Baker is smiling all the way to the bank from his publications and tv informercials!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 7:05PM
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DO YOU have any information on compatiable vegetable

    Bookmark   January 19, 2011 at 12:56PM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)
    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 1:15PM
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How can I get rid of a beaver problem. I'm on the river and there eating our 6' tall arborvide's. They ate 3 down to nothing and we have 7 more. This is a costly prpblem. Help!

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 9:48PM
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Anyone have any idea of the effect of JB's tonics on the earthworms in the lawn? I'm particularly concerned about the soap.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 11:33PM
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What is an effective method to treat the white powdery mildew on the underside of my one and only gerber daisy?

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 3:28PM
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Hmmm! Best gardens I have ever had were when I used his recipes. Maybe it was just the sheer fun of combining ingredients...oh the quantum physics of it all!

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 2:20PM
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does anyone have the recipe for PLANT SHAMPOO? I have looked in two of my books and can't find it.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 7:22PM
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What is with bleach and sprite ? What do you use it for and how much of each?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 1:38PM
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Plant Shampoo is generally dish soap and water.
I also used the lawn tonic and the birds are still feeding on worms from the lawn it seems - plus a landscaper said I have the greenest lawn around! Hot weather here in Michigan these last few weeks! Alot of lawns totally dried out! :-)

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 5:47PM
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I love Jerry Baker and all of his crazy tips and tonics! He gets that gardening is like life you have to try this and that and see what works best for you. If you need gardening and/or life to be an exact recipe for your happiness and success you need to go back to chemicals at the gardening store.
In any event I'm looking to perk up my hibiscus out on the balcony. Does anyone have Jerry's recipe for houseplant tonic? Many thanks for sharing it if you do.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2013 at 1:20PM
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I love Jerry Baker and all of his crazy tips and tonics! He gets that gardening is like life you have to try this and that and see what works best for you. If you need gardening and/or life to be an exact recipe for your happiness and success you need to go back to chemicals at the gardening store.
In any event I'm looking to perk up my hibiscus out on the balcony. Does anyone have Jerry's recipe for houseplant tonic? Many thanks for sharing it if you do.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2013 at 1:21PM
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    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 1:28AM
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Carpenter Bees
The only thing I bought that works is a fly swatter.

Every spray I can find to buy is guaranteed not to harm a fly or any other living creature.

Anyone know if Jerry had a recipe for that?

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 10:17PM
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