Be a Chef for Your Yard!

Jan Clark
by Jan Clark
6 Materials
10 Minutes
Get out your notebook and write this recipe down. You're about to become a gourmet chef for your lawn and garden!

Everyone is looking for ways to keep their outdoor plants green and healthy without using harmful chemicals. This is one in a series of recipes from Jerry Baker's book, The Impatient Gardener (pictured).
According to Jerry, buy the cheapest stuff you can find. You'll need liquid dish detergent, ammonia, Epsom salts, mouthwash and beer. This is the "Grandma Putt's Spring Tonic" recipe.
Remember that dry measure goes in dip cups and liquid measure goes in pouring cups. For this recipe use: 1/2 cup liquid dish soap, 1 cup Epsom salts, 1 cup mouthwash, 1 cup ammonia and 2 cans of beer.
Pour everything into a large plastic container. Both the beer and the soap will probably foam.
Mix everything until you can tell the Epsom salts have dissolved. That is why you are using such a large container - the mixture will foam. Let the foam die down for a few minutes and pour it into a hose-end sprayer.
This recipe covers 2500 square feet. You can double or triple it if you need to. Simply store the extra in your tub until ready to use. Just refill your sprayer when you can tell it's empty of the mix. The way to do that is you can't smell the ammonia anymore and there are no soap bubbles forming on your grass! If you're wondering, this particular sprayer has measurements on the top. I've set mine to 1.5 oz/gallon.
Once things start waking up in the spring, give them a rinse with this mix. This is also a foliar feed - so go ahead and spray it on any budding leaves, too.
In case you were wondering, his book also includes a recipe for insect control. He uses the old standby, Tobacco Tea. You make it by putting a 'plug' of tobacco in a coffee filter, stapling it closed and dunking it into a quart of boiling water. I use a canning jar, boil the water in the microwave, toss in the tobacco bag and seal it up. Once it sits for 24 hours, you can take out the 'bag' and add one cup of the tea into your recipe. Bye-bye bugs.

During growing season, apply the recipe every month to 6-weeks and you'll have the greenest lawn with the least amount of water you've ever used. That's because this formula encourages the roots to grow down into the soil, not across the top few inches where the ground is driest. No harsh chemicals to worry about for kiddos or pets, either. It's a win-win!
Resources for this project:
See all materials
Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
Hometalk may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page.More info
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 4 questions
  • Betty Ehlers Betty Ehlers on Jul 24, 2018

    Do you have a mixture to kill weeds? I saw something about this in a blog, but i could not find it again.

  • Donna Blackmore-Norman Donna Blackmore-Norman on Jul 13, 2022

    I am going to try this. Can this be used in summertime (90+) ? Are there Any outdoor plants to be avoided ? TY 👍️

  • Shiela Shiela on Jun 21, 2023

    Can you use the Epsom salt with magnesium, and or one with lavender to which I already have at hand.

Join the conversation