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.