Tips by Jerry Baker for Successful Vegetable Gardening

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Successful vegetable gardening can be tricky, and the more preparation that is done before breaking ground, the better a home garden will perform. Jerry Baker’s “Garden Line Series,” which includes this short booklet, offers practical tips using homemade tonics to help vegetable gardens flourish. Baker’s advice, which is based on many years of gardening experience, gives eager gardeners a storehouse of knowledge.

Effective Soil Preparation

Proper soil preparation is a must for a successful garden. Adding organic materials such as compost or peat, combined with adding different soil types such as clay, sand, and loam will create a welcome environment for fledgling plants. Baker also offers tips for container soil preparation and raised beds. Be sure to have Epsom salts, coffee grounds, lime, and egg shells on hand to create Jerry Baker’s soil preparation tonic.

Insect and Disease Control

Baker recommends preparing the soil before planting to help with insect and disease control. The tonic for pre-planting contains dish soap, mouthwash, and chewing tobacco juice. It sounds like an odd combination, but is amazingly effective! Baker also recommends commercial fertilizers, such as liquid Sevin and Tomato/Vegetable Dust for regular insect control.

Proper Plant Feeding

While there are many excellent commercial fertilizers available for home gardens, Baker uses his own special formulas to grow healthy vegetables. He recommends adding dry garden food to the soil before planting, which gives young plants a boost. In this book, he offers three different mixtures for fertilizing, using liquid dish soap, ammonia, and beer.

No-Fail Weed Control

Baker suggests that a good mulch will keep most weeds at bay. Mix a good mulch—grass, straw, or shells—into the soil in the fall to improve its organic quality. Using newspaper underneath the natural mulches is also helpful. The author says “the zinc in the ink seems to affect some insects and diseases, and can be spaded in as well since it has a wood fiber base.” He also suggests adding match heads to the soil, which helps release sulphur.

While you’re here, be sure to check out our kitchen product reviews!

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