View Full Version : any Jerry Baker tonic fans?

A1 Grass
09-02-2003, 11:18 PM
I'll admit I have sprayed a couple of yards with beer/ammonia/soap, but not enough to notice any change.

Anybody else looked into his "tonic" recipes?

Fireman D
09-02-2003, 11:26 PM
I have tried a few on my personel yard and have noticed some great results when you follow his program to a "T". I don't have irrigation in my yard, but boy if I did I would be cutting my lawn probably 3 or 4 times a week. His tonics will kick the grass into high gear.

09-03-2003, 12:36 AM
I used his tonic to kill of an infestation of pill bugs one year. Haven't had any problems nearly like that since.

By and large, most of his tonics are not exactly pro-organic. Here's why. With organics we're doing everything we can to promote the health of soil and leaf-borne microbes along with the beneficial insects. A couple of the ingredients JB promotes are antimicrobial. For example: mouth wash, nicotine, and beer (alcohol). You could argue that once you dilute these in a sprayer that there is no antibacterial activity left. Could be, I don't know. But the ingredients I use I do know are not a problem. The harshest thing I suggest using is chlorinated tap water.

09-03-2003, 08:29 AM
Jerry Baker, pure and simple, is a fraud. Many Ag universities have studied his methods and have concluded that his "tonics" do nothing to help or hurt the pest problems. Besides, anyone who pours perfectly good beer on their lawn instead of in themselves is in serios need of help:D

09-03-2003, 09:54 AM
Originally posted by Grassmechanic
Besides, anyone who pours perfectly good beer on their lawn instead of in themselves is in serious need of help:D

The true definition of alcohol abuse!

09-03-2003, 10:50 AM
I had someone tell me that they used one of his tonics one time with miraculous results. But who knows, could have been coincidental. I once talked to the extension agent here about those crazy tonics and he told me that they were just alternate ways to do things, just using commonly available stuff instead of buying a more appropriate ingredient. Like he said maybe the cola is a source for sugar to feed the microbes, where you could just use molasses from the feedstore.

I have a couple of Baker's books - an old verion of Jerry Baker's Lawn Book from 1987, and Backyard Problem Solver from 2002. The older book doesn't seem to get too much into the tonics, the newer one is full of them. He even has a whole chapter in the back - about 120 different formulas! So this seems to be his thing now. At the beginning of the chapter he explains what each ingredient is for. He says the mouthwash is actually to kill "disease germs". Other ingredients used are ammonia, baby shampoo, beer, cola, epsom salts, sugar, molasses, corn syrup, tea, tobacco, urine and whiskey.

I haven't spent that much time with his books, but probably there is lots to learn from them. He doesn't seem to be totally organically oriented and the tonics do seem weird. Probably this is kind of his hook into the marketplace. One thing I have noticed - there are tons of books on lawncare, etc on ebay and you can usually get them pretty cheap - but Baker's books always go for high-dollar. He seems to have quite a marketing machine going. Check out his website here: http://www.jerrybaker.com

I don't know if he is really a fraud, but I don't really trust him and I wouldn't recommend spending much time or money on his books. There are tons of books on organic lawn care and they all seem to be pretty much in agreement on things and no one else seems to be recommending these tonics made from household products.

09-03-2003, 11:47 AM
Thanks for the list, yardmonkey. I'll give y'all my own, personal opinion on each item.

ammonia - excellent source of nitrogen but not organic. Does not last in the soil.
baby shampoo - excellent wetting agent to get water to penetrate deeper into the soil. A lot seems to kill some insects, too.
beer - no appreciable value except to capture the attention of the viewer.
cola - a source of sugar for microbes and a wetting agent. Cola has a pH of 3.0
epsom salts - a source of magnesium to balance sodium and calcium salts in soil
sugar, molasses, corn syrup - all sugar sources with neutral pH and some wetting agent capacity.
tea - no appreciable value
tobacco - nicotine extract is freakin' dangerous to be near, highly toxic which is why it's off the market.
urine - excellent source of natural urea fertilizer
whiskey - no appreciable value and possibly negative due to the alcohol's nonselective antibacterial capability.
mouthwash - another nonselective antibacterial agent. Will kill beneficial and disease microbes.

09-03-2003, 09:33 PM
Well, actually I thought I was being a bit lazy this morning by just listing the ingredients and not indicating what Baker says they are for, so here's some info from page 330 of Backyard Problem Solver:

Ammonia - readily available source of nitrogen
Antiseptic Mouthwash - destroys disease germs
Baby Shampoo and Liquid Dish Soap - to help soften and remove dust, dirt and pollutants from plants and "sends bugs packing"
Beer - "helps release the nutrients that are locked in the soil and puts 'em to work making your plants grow stronger, healthier and better able to nip and problems in the bud" (and how does it do this?)
Cola - feeds good bacteria
Epsom Salts - deepens color, thickens petals, improves roots
Sugar, Molasses, Corn Syrup - stimulate chlorophyll formation and helps feed soil bacteria
Tea - "contains tannic acid, which helps plants digest their food faster and more easily. As I always say - a well-fed plant is a healthy plant!" (yeah, but how does the tea help the plants "digest their food"?)
Tobacco "is pretty nasty stuff - it poisons bugs when they ingest it or when they simply come into contact with it. It does the same thing to some of the germs that cause plant diseases."
Urine - "from any source (your choice) has a powerful - and frightening - smell that will send critters like deer and gophers galloping off to find friendlier territory."
Whiskey, "whether its scotch, bourbon or the plain old rotgut variety, provides nutrients and is a mild disinfectant that'll keep bugs and thugs away."

Seems wacky to me that he uses all this stuff but not the more traditional things that all the organic books mention. I hadn't given Baker that much thought before, but it does seem like he's just capitalizing on his own little ideas - which no one else seems to be trying to copy. I'm sure there is something to all of this, but I don't trust it when someone says this does that, but they don't say why or how. I gues if he explained things more - like epsom salt contains magnesium, then people could just use whatever they wanted that did the same thing - don't let the secrets out!

But then the back cover of the book says that "Jerry Baker is America's foremost authority on lawn, garden, and plant care." So I guess we'll just have to trust him......

09-04-2003, 08:40 AM
Originally posted by yardmonkey
But then the back cover of the book says that "Jerry Baker is America's foremost authority on lawn, garden, and plant care." So I guess we'll just have to trust him...... Does it say in the book where he got his education from? Anyone can give themselves a title, and as long as they keep repeating it enough, people may actually believe them. He is a snake oil peddler with a marketing scheme. I put him in the same category as Miss Cleo. He is the laughingstock at every Ag school that I've been to. People should not take him seriously. In fact, he should be ignored so he'll go away.

09-04-2003, 09:03 AM
Originally posted by Grassmechanic
Jerry Baker, pure and simple, is a fraud. Many Ag universities have studied his methods and have concluded that his "tonics" do nothing to help or hurt the pest problems. Besides, anyone who pours perfectly good beer on their lawn instead of in themselves is in serios need of help:D
I put beer on my lawn, but I filter it through my belly first.

09-04-2003, 12:46 PM
Crawdad - you may be on to something. According to Jerry, both beer and urine are beneficial. You are taking 1 step out of the process by applying both at the same time.:D

09-12-2003, 03:17 PM
We tried one of his tonics for getting rid of aphids on roses, used soap and oranges if I remember. It actually worked, Lady bugs went on sale later and we did not have enough on the roses to keep them around, supported the neighbors instead.

Jerry Baker
08-22-2008, 11:49 PM
My name is Jerry Baker, but I'm not the one that sells all that stuff. I agree with you, that IT'S BEST to drink the beer and whisky first, before putting it on the lawn.

I live in Cedar Falls, Iowa, near where the tornado and the floods happened this year.

I'm writing because no one has posted anything on this thread for several years, and I want to make it look up-to-date.

08-23-2008, 12:08 AM
well thanks, just add the laughing stock topic of an illegal and STUPID fraud to the real issues, that real organic gardeners are trying to address in this forum, do you have some real input or are you putting your self on par with the real idiot that I hate so much, that jerk has hurt real organic gardening so much over the years its almost a crime, wait is that the USDA going after him,YES!! about time. give him the death penalty!!!! and feed him beer soap and ammonia!!!

say something smart so I don't go on about this

08-23-2008, 09:41 AM
For some organic gardeners, Baker was a source. His talk show and books was at an infancy to “natural” gardening (at times). Eventually, you educated yourself, utilized the good, and dropped the bad information. On the subject of beer… Alcohols are not beneficials, is there any benefit in a yeasts & sugars compost tea concoction? Utilize the CT before it (completely) ferments. Are there any benefits in using the byproducts of beer production> IE: hops, barley… Will a thorough washing be necessary to remove trace alcohols? It is a waste byproduct used in composting. I have used beer as an attractant for slugs. Hostas and daylilies are susceptible to them. A small dish is filled with beer and placed near the plants.

08-23-2008, 09:46 AM
While I imagine that many of his tonics are effective, I will agree with the assessment that he is an idiot. I was watching one of his PBS programs once, and he told the audience to go buy fertilizer, "Don't worry about the numbers, plants can't read the numbers." So by this astounding logic, 0-25-0 or 46-0-0 would have basically the same effect. He also tells people to treat necrotic ring spot with baby shampoo...

08-23-2008, 09:59 AM
well I am trying to figure out how to get this thread pulled as its just a joke and the idiot that revived it should be pulled to( just an opinion)maybe just post some garbage all over it





08-23-2008, 10:14 AM
compost does a soil good!

08-23-2008, 11:02 AM
lol Tree,

Think of this thread as fair warning to people looking for info on the guy.

Jerry Baker
08-23-2008, 04:29 PM
Any person who does a Google search for the combined words Jerry and Baker gets "hundreds" of links to web sites promoting "his" products, especially on the first few pages of the search results. The critical comments that turn up are fewer, and pushed farther to the back.

I'd guess that the way to get the critical comments out there more prominently available to clueless Google searchers is to keep the threads containing them up-to-date. I may be wrong about this, but there's some limited evidence that it seems to work.

Another thing I think is true is that "Jerry Baker" himself is not connected with the company that sells "Jerry Baker" products, except by a family relationship. Also, the products which that company sells resemble the other products that are on the market, and don't have the kooky ingredients that he talks about on his TV programs.

08-23-2008, 04:59 PM
Yup, google needs content (written words) to run a query... then it sorts pages by their rating.. part of a pages rating is how many pages link to it.. (it's like every page that links to yours gives yours a point.. the page with the most points ends up on the top of the list)... Lawnsite has lots of pages linking to it and thus a good score... Leaving this post, and adding to it.. will help to get the information out there. This thread might even end up as the first page for certain Jerry Baker searches.

Speak and be heard.

08-23-2008, 07:50 PM
:hammerhead::hammerhead::hammerhead:come monday we will see what happens to this thread.LOLOLOL

Jerry Baker
08-27-2008, 11:08 AM
I just posted a comment that I thought posts on this site were no longer allowed, because no one had made one recently. However, it got posted, so I had to edit it, because of that.

08-27-2008, 12:04 PM
It's number 23 right now on googles list

06-22-2013, 07:18 PM
Actually the yeast in beer will eat your thatch in your lawn. The yeast does the same thing when they brew beer- it eats the grain. And any normal non lawn troll knows you just don't pore it in one spot and think it's going to take care of all your thatch in a lawn that 50 feet by 75 feet. You put it into a sprayer and add water(plus other parts of the tonic) and spray so it covers your lawn. Duh!

As for the liquid dish soap - it's makes water wetter. Does the same things in your kitchen sink. It breaks down the water surface tension, and the dirt. Also a lot of your lawn care companies will add it to their spray trucks. Reason is they don't have to use as much chemicals to do the same work. So all these lawn trolls who are making fun of all this- really haven't a clue. Maybe a little Junior High school chemistry might help them get the thatch out of there head. Also the drop of liquid dish soaps in a QT of water in a spray bottle and used properly will kill flies, aphids, and other insects- it drowns them- it cuts off the air supply because bugs breath through their "skin", and the water drowns them.

(This for a laugh- by brother and I used brut deodorant to kill snails as kids in California. Does a great job. But I would not suggest every one should do it. Too expensive.) Also using the lemon scented dish soap, the bugs do not like the lemon scent or the mint scented stuff either.

But Dchall_San_Antonio is way off on the mouth wash- it kills fungus and mold. Which are things like powder mildew.

BTW if you go buy your normal fertilizer it normally does not have the Epsom salts in it. If you try to find one that does it will be about $35-$45 dollars more. SO picking up a bag or carton of the Epsom salts and shaking into your bag of normal fertilizer, it will really will help green your lawn, and not take the green out of your wallet.

tannic acid- also kills molds and fungus. And it will kill things (molds) the mouth wash will not.

tobacco - nicotine extract is freakin' dangerous to be near, highly toxic which is why it's off the market. --- Has Dchall_San... ever read the ingredients list for Raid Wasp and hornet killer? They still put it in insecticides and even the new e-cigarette use nicotine in them. They even put it into gum. Not that I would ever be caught chewing any of it. But the idea behind steeping chew in hot water over night is to get that nicotine out of the chew so you can use it on the aphids on your roses (along with your lemon liquid dish soap).

Look I had over 800 dahlias in my front lawn (intensive organic gardening) and I used all this stuff on it. And wound up with 8 foot dahlias.

I even used the Epsom salts/fertilizer on the camp's lawn next door and I had one heck of a great green lawn. My only mistake was using the un-pasteurized beer/flat sugar 7-up (no diet)/1/2 cup of LQ lemon joy/black Tea (tannic acid)/ and two cap full of mint mouthwash in a gallon sprayer and one cup of Epsom salts (rest filled up with water).- The problem? It totally wiped out all of the thatch in less then a month. It did leave the green grass- which at that time, the growing grass left behind was really sparse. The area was the size of two foot ball fields on the side of a hill. I had one heck of a time getting the water to soak into the grass. But as the summer went, the grass really did take off and grew. BTW- everything I was told about gypsum breaking up clay, it didn't hold a candle when it came to using mulch in clay.

Also, I had about 35+ yards of tree leaves/wood chips/lawn clippings from the local power company and the neighborhood (thanks to my wood chipper). I used a bag of brow sugar, two cups of white sugar, 1/2 cup of lemon joy, six cans of unpasteurized beer on the pile of wood chips. Then I used my drip irrigation system every day to water it. I was told that it would take over two years to decompose that pile into mulch. It did it under 4-5 months. And I had earth worms over 8 inches long running around in it. There was cedar in the wood chips so it made the whole neighborhood smell great. Some of our neighbors were TROLLS and could not process what I was doing. I used the mulch to turn gray clay into top soil in less then two months. Cool part was you no longer needed a jack hamper to get the weeds out. You could bend over and pluck weeds with no trouble. I rototilled 6 inches of mulch to 12 inches of gray clay, and I had the best drained soil ever.

That was also the year I had leader of the neighborhood tell me that I did not need to water the camp lawn after I had spent the summer using the tonics on the lawn and watering it. You see we normally had apples the size of gulf balls on the camp property. Also according to the camp they lost a good amount of their kids coming back because the kid's hated the lawn- before that summer because the lawn pricked them. Back to the neighborhood leader- That year we had apples the size of grapefruit. I went over and plucked three apples and handed it too him and said "Oh your so right I never had to water or do any work on the lawn". When it dawn on him what I had handed to him, all I got out of him was an "Oh". Grapefruit size apples and lush green lawns are the best revenge. Most of the time when you have really large apples they are dry inside. Not that year.

06-23-2013, 09:47 AM
I never thought of yeast as being a critter that would eat thatch in a turf environment... it is a different environment than bread dough or beer vats...
I just use dry molasses/sugar...

06-24-2013, 06:06 PM
Think about it, back 2000 years ago Egypt did not have stainless steel vats to brew their beer. IF I understand things right they were the first to brew beer. Also were the first to give beer for wages... but that's another story.

What did the Egyptians have to make their beer in? Clay pots. Stainless steel vats or Copper pots had not even been thought of at that time.

Here's how it was put to me: What is barley, rye, oats, wheat, grain, and hops? They're a form of grass. What is thatch? Grass. ....Right?

So the yeast and other organisms in beer that eat the grains also eat the grass the grain is attached to when the grass is growing. { That's why you have to use unpasteurized beer for your lawn- for this trick to work}. Yeah, the process is a lot slower on your lawn. Takes about a month or more (depends if the weather is hot enough, and the ground is moist enough to get the yeast to multiply- and again it's not really the ground but the grass that needs these two things for the yeast to do it's thing), but yeast does the same thing on your lawn that happens in just days in a warm stainless steel vat with water and grain.

One important thing I need to point out: You don't poor the can of beer in one spot. You put it in your gallon sprayer that has not been used for other chemicals, add the other stuff like the 1/4 cup of liquid Joy dishsoap, the fill the rest with clean water, then spray your lawn.

You say the Egyptians did not have things like yeast. You're right again. But normally when the grain came in from the field, it had already the yeast on the grain. Add to that, most likely the Egyptians did not always have their moister meter out to check the water content of their grain (they had to wait 2000+ year for that), my bet is the yeast was already active. Add water to your pot and put in the grain to soak, and you got some crude form of bear.

It's been in the last 100 years we figured out what yeast was, and figured out which one did the best job that we use now for brewing. Also it helped that back 2000 years ago, they did not use new clay pots every time, so a lot of the time they had the yeast they need already in the pot- they just didn't know that.

I don't remember what channel it was on but they had one on the history of beer. If you can find it, you might want to watch it.

06-24-2013, 06:30 PM
I can't speak about yeast being effective on thatch (why waste good beer?), but I know a little about ancient history and beer. :drinkup:

2000 years ago, Egypt was ruled by the ancestors of Alexander the Great and then Rome.

Beer, my favorite beverage, after water, is much older.

06-24-2013, 07:32 PM
Alexander the Great 20/21 July 356 – 10/11 June 323 BC (Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_the_Great)

Rome's history spans more than two and a half thousand years, since its legendary founding in 753 BC (Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rome).

Quote from WIKI: "Beer was part of the daily diet of Egyptian Pharaohs over 5,000 years ago. Then, it was made from baked barley bread, and was also used in religious practices.[15]

The role of beer in Egyptian society was far greater than just a drink. Often, beer was prescribed to treat various illnesses. Beer was considered to be the most proper gift to give to Egyptian Pharaohs, and it was also offered as a sacrifice to the gods.[citation needed]

Based on historical evidence, it appears that the Egyptians taught the Greeks the beer brewing process....
" {http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_beer}

hmmm. it seems the Egyptians were Making beer before 356 BC and way before 753 BC. Funny, I did not see anything about Alexander the Great and beer in the wiki post History_of_beer.

06-24-2013, 08:30 PM
You make my point quite well.

06-26-2013, 08:13 AM
Essentially what we are looking for is a microbe that recycles thatch into SOM at an accelerated pace to prevent the need of 'dethatching and/or aerating'...
Is that a fair assessment???

I think the decomposers that work on various aspects of thatch buildup are already in the soil and we are trying to find a way to help them thrive...
Or are we on different pages with the 'reason' for the Baker formula???

06-26-2013, 07:02 PM
Baker's formula not only get's ride of the thatch, but it green the lawn, get's the pest to move or eliminates them, cuts down on the bad molds/fungus, and does it with out all the harsh chemicals.

RE: decomposers were all ready there.... If that was so then there would be no thatch in the first place in your lawn. The yeast that eats grass is already in said non-pasteurized beer.