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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?
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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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
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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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......
 

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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.
 

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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.
Crawdad
 

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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
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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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
 

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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.
 

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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...
 

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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.
 
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