#TBT: Jerry Baker, Still Quacking by Garden Rant

Susan first ranted about home remedy-hawker Jerry Baker (“America’s Master Gardener”) on her own blog in March of 2006, and it was that rant that caught the attention of Amy Stewart and Michele Owens, who were then scheming about a team blog. Here’s Susan’s July 30, 2006 follow-up post about Baker, her first rant on the new blog.


My all-time favorite rant subject is at it again.  In his latest newsletter Jerry Baker offers these pearls:

Once a month before watering, aerate the soil by walking around the yard wearing Aerating Lawn Sandals. Then overspray your lawn with my Lawn Freshener Tonic: 1 can of beer, 1 cup of dishwashing liquid, 1/2 cup of ammonia, and 1/2 cup of weak tea water mixed in your 20 gallon hose-end sprayer, and applied to the point of run-off.

Every now and then, I like to water my lawn by hand. And whenever I do, I give it a refreshing drink of my Summer Soother Tonic: 2 cups of weak tea water, 1 cup of dishwashing liquid, and 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide mixed in your 20 gallon hose-end sprayer, and applied to the point of run-off. Try it next time you’ve got a hankerin’ to putter around your yard.

Look out, worms, insects and other beneficial inhabitants of garden soil, coz when old Jerry gets a “hankerin’ to putter around” his yard it’s like Cheney and Rumsfeld puttering around the Middle East – scary shit!!  Ya gotta wonder how much plant and soil life can survive regular dousings of beer, soap, tea, ammonia, and hydrogen peroxide.

Like a rubbernecker eyeing an accident, I was mesmerized by Jerry’s – shall we say? – advice, and I found a few more gems.  Ever heard of doing this?

Root prune all spring-flowering shrubs in late August to stimulate heavy blooms next year. Follow up by sprinkling 1/2 cup of Epsom salts into the cuts.

Or this?

When transplanting anything this time of year, add nitrogen and protein for root development by working a mixture of oatmeal and human hair into the soil.

And because you can just never spray enough, it turns out we’re supposed to spray our mulch, too.

Overspray any mulch with my Mulch Makeover Tonic: 1 cup of ammonia, 1 can of regular (not diet) cola, 1 cup of antiseptic mouthwash, and 1 tbsp. of dishwashing liquid mixed in a 20 gallon hose-end sprayer.

And although not mentioned in this month’s missive, let’s never forget that his favorite home remedy for the garden is tobacco juice.  Nicotine – it’s all natural!

Before you laugh off Baker as the quack that he indisputably is, remember that he’s the number one gardening educator, so to speak, in the whole U.S. of A., thanks to public television, 217 radio stations, Wal-Mart, and his own amazing publishing machine – 40 books and counting. Since ranting my pants off last March about Jerry and discovering that everyone thinks he’s a quack (well, except people making money off him), I’m frustrated as hell by his continued success, especially on public broadcasting.  I understand that his videos are great fund-raising products for the stations, so I wasn’t surprised when Washington’s affiliate, WETA, failed to acknowledge the letter of complaint I sent them on behalf of a local garden club. Nationally only a couple of stations have so far stopped broadcasting his videos after complaints from mainly academic sources.


I’m left with the conclusion that if we want to get this self-described environmentalist (!!) off the air, we’ll have to come up with something better for PBS to use. So how about it?  I bet the collective wisdom of the garden blogosphere, even just using the technology we’re seeing on YouTube, could be a huge service to the public and their oversprayed yards. For funding I wish we could tap the Extension Services all over the country – it’s their job to educate the public, after all – but they’re mum on the subject, except to complain that Jerry’s use and trademarking of the term “America’s Master Gardener” is bogus.

So maybe it’s up to us and if not us, who?  I’m only half kidding, guys.

#TBT: Jerry Baker, Still Quacking originally appeared on Garden Rant on March 31, 2016.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s