Agriculture Ecology Health Spirituality Wilderness

Shanin Blake

[Thanks to Jeff for the heads-up.] It seems like Shanin Blake is attracting as much attention as hate on TikTok, her native platform. She’s being slated for having parents who work for Lockheed Martin [this, I am informed, is apparently a meme], being a perpetrator of cultural appropriation, spreading misinformation about health etc.

I’m just totally fascinated that she’s bringing all these subjects dear to my heart to the centre stage. I do think, however, that Blake should be careful not to burn out on the weed, acid, and shrooms. She’s starting to look weirder and weirder to the extent that I’d be concerned if she was my daughter. This concern comes from a place of love though. It would be a pity to squander all that positive energy.

Shanin’s horny, verging on the softly pornographic, videos appear to come from that hippie quarter where naturism meets the erotic. They remind me of the Fidus pictures and the Lebensreform photos.

What’s her music like? Well actually I think it’s nice! It’s a perky, super-intimate take on the modern R’n’B of Erykah Badu, Solange, SZA, and Janelle Monae. Black music, yes. But therefore she’s sitting in what used to be a perfectly respectable tradition peopled by the likes of The Box Tops, Hall & Oates, and David Bowie. “Senses” below from two years ago is a pretty piece of ear candy which would sit well with the clockwork mouse music.


The Low Tide

A couple of years ago I was following the tide’s height on the Thames quite closely. A student of the unconscious I was particularly interested in the tide’s nadir. It’s always fascinating to see the depths of the foreshore which are revealed. I believe the event when the tide is at its very lowest is called the LAT, for Lowest Astronomical Tide, relating of course to the effect of the moon upon the oceans.

This low tide of 4th March 2022 was particularly low, showing as -0.2m, literally off the charts! So I went down to the foreshore to check it out. It’s a great way to establish some connection to nature and the universe from which we are insulated in the metropolis.

The Thames tide level is measured at London Bridge but I’m not aware of a way of getting onto the foreshore there, so I chose Southwark bridge beside it instead.

At Southwark bridge there is a heavy iron gate, shown here ajar, which opens onto the riverbank.

In 2022 you can see how the Thames just ran like a slither around the bridge’s pier.

This tiny channel is visible in this photo looking upriver.

I was able to reach across and touch the pier itself. That blue anorak went to Ukraine I believe.

At the time I was drawing the “forms” and so doodled one on its wall with one of the chalk pebbles.

When the tide turned the gap filled very quickly. You can see an actual wave reaching up.

This year, purely by chance, or perhaps some astrological impulse, I checked the excellent Tides App (developed by David Easton) and saw that there was to be an even lower tide on the following Tuesday 9th. This was to be a truly epic low tide.

As I made my way down to the Southwark Bridge foreshore I mentioned to a few of my fellow pedestrians that they were witnessing an historic low tide. Certainly, the banks of the Thames were conspicuously exposed. People’s genuine interest and friendliness was tinged ever-so-slightly by concern as to my mental wellbeing. A lunatic, somewhat appropriately. But that’s the risk you run when you think for yourself…

Reaching the shoreline I could see that, although the beach had been subtly reshaped in the intervening two years, the tide was indeed lower.

This time the pebbles reached the foot of the pier itself.

I struck an X on the pier wall with a chalk pebble.

This time I noticed that there were other people wandering the foreshore. I spoke to the lady who you can see on the edge of frame. I was hoping that maybe she had been brought here by this same information, but no.

The view upstream from the Millennium bridge was particularly epic.

In a later post we will look into the effect of the moon upon growing.

Ecology Food Growing Organic Practice Urban

My Trees

I’ve been meaning to write a post about my trees for a while. Growing trees from their seeds takes a certain amount of care and patience.

I was worried about the health of these two Horse chestnut trees. I was sure they’d succumbed to fungus and died. But they’ve come back looking very strong this spring about which I’m delighted. I’d potted them up and put them in my own compost. These were grown from two conkers I found in the street around the corner in the autumn of 2023.

It’s troubling when young deciduous trees lose their leaves in the winter. You think they have come a cropper. This Oak I found as an acorn on Hampstead Heath. I think it’s going to do well this year. I gave its siblings to friends in Wales.

Since I rather optimistically planted a pip in a friend’s back garden in the early seventies when I must have been, ooh, six years old, growing an apple tree from a pip has been an cherished ambition. This was from an organic apple from the supermarket. I currently have a few more pips I’m hoping will sprout – one a particularly delicious variety I got from a farmer’s market, the other from the apple tree by the Caddy’s caravan in Findhorn. I read recently in Mark Ridsdill Smith’s excellent “Vertical Veg” book that apple trees do well in containers on roof gardens – so have redoubled my efforts. It’s all about tree crops, people.

Finally, this Ash tree, a volunteer which I have nurtured has really thrived from what was just a tiny weed. Very proud of it!

Ecology Growing Practice Soil Urban

JADAM Microorganism Solution

[Once again – please don’t follow my inexact instructions – instead refer to the JMS recipe on page 167 of the Second Edition of JADAM Organic Farming.]

Although the JADAM techniques contain an arsenal of homemade, cheap-to-make, organic pesticides and herbicides possibly the most important JADAM concoction is what is known as JMS, JADAM Microorganism Solution. This might be the easiest of all their recipes to make at home.

You start by finding leaf mold in unspoilt, nearby countryside, at the foot of the largest tree you can find.

You clear away the top leaves which have not decomposed and take some handfuls of the leaf mould beneath. We are all better educated about the importance of the healthy microbiome in our bodies; that natural balance of bacteria in our guts. This leaf mould from the woodland floor has about the best-balanced microbial profile that you could imagine. You’ve heard about fecal microbial transplantation? Well this is the same thing.

Cho, adopting the classical model of Eastern Philosophy, asks his students to not think about good-vs-bad microbes, “this dualistic thought of dividing good and bad is actually unscientific.” Damn straight.

Gather up a bagful of the valuable leaf mould – then, if you are anything like me, furtively cover your tracks!

At home chop up a couple of potatoes.

Boil them and mash them up, skins and all…

This is the resulting gloop to which I added sea salt. Sea salt, and indeed sea water, is a recurring motif within JADAM. The logic being that, in a weak solution, it represents an ideal mineral profile. What was once on the land flowed thence.

You then need a bucket full of either rainwater, or tap water which has been allowed to “de-gas” for 24 hours. You don’t want the chlorine wiping out all those lovely microorganisms.

You add the leaf mould and the potato gloop into a finely meshed bag.

The bag rests, brewing, like a tea bag for 3 days.

You keep a lid on the container so as to prevent animals and bugs getting at it.

This is how it looked after the first 24 hours. A bubbling fermentation builds up.

Here is a close-up after 24 hours. This needs more time. In a warmer climate, like that in South Korea where JADAM comes from, the bubbling is much more intense and you build up something like a thick scum on the surface. In cooler climes like mine it looks more subdued like this.

And this was after 48 hours. I know now that for the UK, at this time of year (even though it’s in the relative warmth of my study), that this is pretty excellent. In fact, I should have used the JMS at this stage. However, thinking I was going to get a scummy froth eventually, I hung around for another day.

This is after 72 hours – well maybe more like 60 hours – and to be honest it looks like I got to it too late. It’s useful to see I suppose… The bubbles have subsidised and a lot of the vitality has ebbed away. It’s still useful as a liquid fertiliser, what’s known as tea by horticulturalists.

Schlep the bucket into your garden.

Decant it as a concentrate into watering cans, and add roughly 20 parts water to 1 of the tea.

And sprinkle it over your plants. In this case my spinach.

It’s a very interesting process. Because I’ve been following No Dig principles in some containers (notably in my raised bed), it must surely help to add some biology back into the soil in this manner.

What I also did was sprinkle the leaf mould on the surface of a number of pots. That’s maybe a simpler thing to do. However, the advantage of the solution is that gets right into the roots.

One more final JADAM experiment to come shortly.

Community Spirituality Wilderness

Twin Oaks Fire

Our  industrial center, Emerald City, is on fire

One of America’s legendary communes, Twin Oaks, originally modelled on ideas from B.F. Skinner’s “Walden Two” (1948) book, has been badly damaged in a fire. I haven’t written extensively about Twin Oaks in my upcoming book “The Garden”- but they are close on the heels of Tennessee’s Farm for being North America’s most famous and successful commune. Anna writes:

On Wednesday afternoon March 20th 2024, tragedy struck Twin Oaks when a nearby wild fire spread to our property, completely destroying our warehouse complex, our sawmill and our conference site. Over 200 acres burned through the night, forcing the entire community to evacuate. Luckily, no people, pets or residences were damaged. While we do have a disaster fund, the damage we’re facing is devastatingly huge. The structures destroyed include our large warehouse complex, our sawmill, 4 vehicles, our kilns, a hoop-house, a functioning outdoor kitchen and pavilion at the conference site, countless storage structures including 3 barns and 2 trailers, and many other small structures. We are estimating a loss of more than a million dollars. This loss also means the end of our 57-year old hammocks business, which was Twin Oaks’ beating heart for many decades since its foundation in 1967. Other Twin Oaks businesses experienced losses as well, but will most likely recover.‍

The Leaves of Twin Oaks #132
Vehicles and buildings destroyed
Destroyed wood-working machine with ruined workshop / warehouse in background
Ropemaking Twister ruined

[Photos by Anna and Jane]

One is able to make a contribution here.

Growing Urban

JADAM Slug Control

[Please note – do not follow my instructions here – refer to JADAM’s own recipe on page 346 of the Second Edition of JADAM Organic Farming.]

The spring is a big time for slugs and snails. I found this out to my cost last year. This year I noticed earlier and decided to bring the ruckus sooner. I don’t own ducks (pace Mollison) and therefore need to be the predator myself.

Youngsang Cho is a man after my own heart. Undergoing four NDEs and living with “the realization that my death was always near” Cho, a brilliant chemist, decided to share rather than claim exclusive rights to his knowledge. He writes, “I could have gained enormous wealth through patents, but I gave up for the greater good.” This decision was influenced by his passion for both Jesus Christ and Karl Marx. Cho describes having an apocalyptic vision of a capitalist society and thus embarked “on a long journey to liberate agricultural technology from monopoly capital, by following the spiritual ideals of two great teachers.” He is a bonafide genius.

I’ve been studying Cho’s JADAM Organic Farming Technology and decided to make the assault on the Phylum Mollusca the first part of my investigation into it. Credit must also go to Garden Like A Viking for his adaptation of Cho’s recipe which includes adding garlic.

First blend two cloves of garlic with a jam jar of water.

Let the resulting garlic juice sit for half an hour.

Make JADAM wetting agent. This is a soap. Its application means that there’s no surface tension on what you spray. An application coats leaves evenly.

As tempting as it was to make this JWA myself – it simply wasn’t economical to buy huge catering buckets, a paint-stirrer, gallons of purified water, rapeseed oil, and source Potassium Hydroxide.

If I had a market garden, maybe! But not for my tiny roof garden. So, I bought this wetting agent off Dr Forest on eBay. I needed roughly a cap full of this.

And this is Sodium Hydroxide. Of which I needed only a teaspoon. Now for the contentious part… Mine is not a truly organic garden. I have, for instance, purchased compost which wasn’t organic. It would also be entirely pointless to get it certified. However, I have generally abided by the spirit of organic growing. Up to this point, a few years in, I haven’t used any chemical fertiliser, herbicide, or pesticide.

JADAM is, they claim, made entirely with chemicals which are USDA Organic approved. That’s to say they are supposed to be approved under American Organic regulations.

In the JADAM Organic Farming book one can find tables from the USDA which specify that these two chemicals are “Inerts of Minimal Concern.” Summarising the documents below, you’re only prohibited from using NaOH and KOH to peel fruit and vegetables. KOH you can even use to peel peaches.

JADAM also have on their website a document written to them which clarifies that these chemicals abide by USDA Organic regulations:

However, neither Potassium Hydroxide nor Sodium Hydroxide are chemicals approved by the UK’s Soil Association. Furthermore, it might need to be pointed out that these USDA Organic regulations are the same ones which allow Hydroponic growing and Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to be certified as organic.

Gotta be straight with you, I don’t think this is what Sir Albert and Lady Eve had in mind. There are also rumblings from American farmers which one can read in the comments box:

Did this stop me? In fact, no. Because I detest snails and slugs, because Potassium Hydroxide is just an ingredient of soap which decays in the process of its manufacture, and Sodium Hydroxide breaks down relatively quickly into salts which are, broadly-speaking, positive amendments to the soil. I don’t need to worry about losing my organic certification, because I’m not certified. JADAM is fascinating and I was very curious to try.

All these ingredients: the garlic, water, JWA, and Caustic Soda I mixed up into roughly 2 litres of juice.

And in the dead of night (because you can’t spray this stuff during the day) I sprayed my plants. This is me spraying the Yarrow I got from Anthroposophy HQ, Emerson College at Forest Row. For some reason the slugs love the Yarrow. Rudolf Steiner will be turning in his grave – preferring, probably, that I would incinerate a single slug and dilute and spray its ashes everywhere. I may yet try that…

I followed this process on the 26th and 27th of March and sprayed for two nights in what has been peak slug era. What did alarm me was that on the first night, being a little gung ho, I got the spray on my hands. I think I was carried away with all the hype of how harmless this stuff was. I ended up getting it on my arms and face.

It was not only very irritating but also slightly painful. Here’s a post by the Okanagan Okanogan blog which goes into a heavy-critique of JADAM and the effects of NaOH. Not deterred I took more precautions the second night, was like really careful, and still managed to get some small amount vapour in one of my eyes. This was sore and, because it was in my eye, also a bit worrying. If I sprayed again, which to be honest is unlikely, I would wear goggles, not just glasses. Even the odour of the garlic has lingered somewhat unpleasantly…

The following night, the 28th of March I found the slugs and snails still very busy. Was their activity less than it would otherwise have been? It’s impossible to tell, but to be honest I was disappointed. I think if one was trying to subdue slugs and snails on a 3 acre market garden this might be an excellent solution – but I don’t think it was appropriate to my situation.

Henceforth I am going to return to my tried-and-tested technique of going out after 10pm, picking the tiny fuckers off with tongs and dumping them in very strong brine. This being my own unpatented method and one most suitable to my twenty square metres.

This, however, is not the end of my JADAM experiments. There are a further two more to come.

Food Growing Urban

Winter Spinach Harvest

My spinach did so well over the winter.

Ecology Growing Soil

Tiger Worms from Yorkshire

Reinforcements arrived.

Community Ecology Practice Urban

Harsh Pollarding



Counter culture

Theodore Roszak is turning in his grave.