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Re: Insects and Jerry Baker

Well, Kemberly,  liquid dish soap can be as effective as Safer's but you
have to be careful and test it because some brands cause leaf burning. 
They say, that in the old days, when women used to toss the used dishwater
out the back door, the plants around the door grew better than others:-)  

Actually, I was under the impression that liquid dish soap would kill soft
bodied insects.  Haven't used it myself for this purpose as I just get
Safer's.  Safer's can also burn leaves on some plants - have to test those
that aren't listed to be sure and if there's a problem, wash with clear
water.  It's a contact insecticide so it only works when it hits a bug. 
Once it's hit the bug, it does not need to be on the plant.  Hort. oil is a
good additive because it does smother them...it can also be used quite
effectively by itself.  Liquid dish soap can be added to sprays - small
quantity; a few drops - to act as a surficant an help something like a
baking soda spray adhere to plant leaves.

I don't think it would hurt to "wash" your plants, but just keep an eye out
and if you see any browning of leaf edges, hose them off and then hold off
a bit before you do it again.

All garden plants can tolerate a certain amount of insect predation - they
have to be able to or they would not survive.  I generally ignore aphids
unless the build up is really heavy and then I turn the hose on them and
blast them off the plant.  Some will climb back on, but a lot will never
make it back.  I've also been known to simply run my finger and thumb up a
bud or stem with aphids and squash the little stinkers....

I find aphids a problem in the greenhouse more than outside where there are
predators who can keep them under control.  Greenhouse environments are
artificial and one has to do more intervention than would be necessary in
the garden.  

Re: beer, soda and ammonia.  Beer and soda do nothing for plants except
water them - the sugars might attract ants and slugs love the yeast in
beer:-)  Ammonia, however, has nitrogen, so that's probably why your grass
got a bit greener.   If you've ever been in a barn with saturated straw cow
or horse bedding, you can smell the relationship between the ammonia in
their urine (source of nitrogen) and ammonia out of a bottle....but bottled
washing ammonia is not the best source of nitrogen and does nothing for the
soil.  Get some Milorganite or other composted sewage sludge for a
non-burning nitrogen fix for your grass (used on golf courses all the time)
or some dried blood - tho' it's a tad pricey for a large area and does
attract animals, who are convinced you've buried some tasty morsel there
and try to dig it out.   Milorganite, at about $8US for a 50lb bag would
certainly cost less than beer and soda in the quantities needed to do
anything!  Beer ain't cheap these days and neither is soda, esp. compared
to water, which is what they are replacing in Baker's "formula"...only the
ammonia has any effect on grass at all.

There are many "home" brews that do work in the garden.  Garlic and hot
pepper will discourage munchers of the 4-legged variety.  Baking soda is
effective against powdery mildew, and so, I understand, is garlic.  In
fact, the AHS pub. "The American Gardener" just had an article about
organic methods of dealing with rose diseases that includes several recipes
for sprays that you can make.  These, however, do not include beer or
tobacco or soda....   Some home remedies are worse than what they are
trying to cure, tho'.  I'll never forget the mess I had in the veggie
garden the year I tried getting rid of caterpillars on my brussels sprouts
by sprinkling flour on them....doesn't bear thinking about:-)  So, you have
to take all with a grain of salt.

Problem, IMO, with Jerry Baker is that his brews can be toxic - he makes no
distinction; gives no warning and has no scientific proof that they do what
he says they will do.  He simply preys on people's desire to do
*something*; to find some foolproof  *easy* way to solve all gardening
problems....doesn't he even call it "yardening"? - preferably without
having to buy some "expensive" tested garden product to do it with...all
the while, marketing marginal garden tools and products as hard as he
can....I think of him with that useless Garden Weasel tool.....  Always
remember he's basically a showman - what he shows on a TV program and what
actually occur in real life are likely very different things.   He's in
"show business", primarily.

Needless to say, I have absolutely no respect for the man.  I consider him
to be a total charlatan.  Instead of teaching people about horticulture, he
gives them garbage to put on their gardens.  Shame, shame on him is what I
say!  While I'm on the soapbox, I get even more annoyed with PBS for
running series of his programs while they are schilling for money....have
written on several occasions to tell them so and point out that there are
qualified people out there who could produce intelligent gardening
programs, etc.....got no response!  So much for "public" broadcasting's
interest in the views of its viewing public.

What one has to do, in this day and age, is homework.  Nothing is "easy"
and there is no quick or single answer to any problem, in life or in the
garden.  Know your plants and what kind of environment they require to grow
well.  Know the insects you find on your plants.  Find out what their life
cycles are....what kind of environmental conditions encourage them....who
their natural predators are.  Also, find out what kinds of proven methods
are effective in dealing with them.  The information is out there on that
fantastic resource, the world wide web...it just takes a bit of time and
effort to find it.  And, of course, opinionated people like me will be
happy to give you their 2 cents worth on email lists:-)  But, be skeptical
of anything you read; check the credentials of the writer; be leery of
information provided by commercial sources.  Some of it is good and some of
it is called marketing - do the research to satisfy yourself that a fact is
a fact.  Test any new idea before you use it wholesale.

Marge Talt, zone 7 Maryland
(dismounting from soapbox)
Editor:  Gardening in Shade
current article: Building A Raised Bed Garden
All garden topics welcome page:

> From: Mclainakag@aol.com
> Date: Tuesday, June 01, 1999 10:57 AM
> Marg-
> I have noticed that several people in the gardening world denounce Jerry 
> Baker and his methods........now I'm beginning to question this and his 
> practices myself.
> What are your views about dish soap and insects?  My mother-n-law has
> growing orchids for 25 years and has been a very active member in the
> Orchid Society.  She recommend the use of dish soap water as a way to
> some insects such as aphids and mealy bugs.  Now she did tell me that the

> solution won't actually kill the insects but they resent a plant that has

> been washed and this eliminates reproduction.  She did mention that if I
> hort oil (refined) or even cooking oil that this will smother the 
> insects....truth? 
> I have had a very bad case of mealy bugs in my garden this year--usually
> get a few in the greenhouse from bringing new orchids in or other plants
> I do not spray with insecticidle soap 1st.  I have learned the hard way
> check my plants very carefully and to treat them 2 times before I put
> greenhouse even if there is no visible sign of bugs.  Well back to the 
> garden......after she told me about this I've been spraying my garden or
> guess you could say washing my garden about every 4 days and I have seen
> huge reduction in the mealy bugs........is this a good thing or a bad 
> thing....I know less mealy bugs is good, but is the wash good or bad?
> I am not very concerned about the little aphids because they seem to 
> concentrate themselves on the daylilies and butterfly weed and show no
> of causing damage....is it right to leave them be or should I try to rid 
> myself of them?
> Okay, back to J. Baker---what do you think of some of his tonics that
> such things as beer, soda, amonia?  I had used his lawn tonic before and
> did seem to green up.  Are some of his ingredients okay?  Should we just
> concerned about how they are applied and stored?
> Well - I think that this is enough questions for one email....sorry for
> many--I am just now beginning to debate some of these (JB's remedies)
> Thanks for your help
> Kemberly McLain
> Katy, Texas  Zone 9
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
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