Under my insects there are vegetables

I THINK I’ll try Zen Buddhism.

I’m not sure about the philosophical values, but I like their gardens. I’m sick of trying to grow vegetables; raking pebbles will make a nice change.

And if I get bored I can always introduce a carefully placed carrot. Bought from a shop, let me stress.

I am giving up growing food. Raking rocks into calming patterns will be less stressful. And there is more nutrition in rocks than exists in all the vegetables I have ever eaten from my garden.

It’s not that I can’t grow them. You can grow anything in a North Queensland garden. But eating them is a different matter. To eat them you have to be quicker than the bugs.

I am sick of growing cabbages for the sole purpose of developing a healthier and more virulent strain of cabbage-white caterpillar. I am weary of growing cucumbers as a means of providing cheap housing for slugs.

Here in my little cottage the garden is not big. It’s in a suburb where there are dozens of cottages with dozens of gardens, all abundant with plants. Flowers and vegetables thrive.

I have insects. Somewhere under them is foliage, or the skeletal remains of it, but I haven’t seen it for some time.

It’s my own fault, I suppose. If I gave up trying to grow organic vegetables I could blitz everything with toxic chemicals. I might have to eat potatoes with real eyes — ones that followed you round the room and pleaded with you — but at least I wouldn’t have any caterpillars or grasshoppers.

It’s tricky, this health business. I mean, is it really healthier to grow (or to try to grow) my own vegetables, deluged as they are on daily basis by car fumes and caterpillars and, one assumes, caterpillars’ business?

Or would I be better off simply going to the supermarket and buying lettuce that looks healthy, even if it was grown in water and raised on artificial fertilisers and pesticides?

I’d certainly be better off financially!

Not only is it impossible to eat anything grown at home because the bugs eat it first, but it also costs a lot for the privilege.

And why, for heaven’s sake, am I worrying about the cost of a lettuce! I can afford to go and buy organic lettuces, even if I have to travel to Cairns to do it! What I can’t afford is beef and barramundi, but so far I haven’t come up with a way of growing them in a garden that’s no bigger than a family car.

And then there’s the time. The bugs are eating my vegetables and my vegetables are eating my time.

It’s a source of bewilderment to me that shop can sell me a carrot for a few cents, when I know that if I’d raised it myself it would cost me several hundred dollars. Oh, the packet of seeds was nothing, and even the trowel, the hoe, the rake, the spade and the fork won’t break the bank. But when you add up the hours I spend on my knees (think of the future medical bills!) looking for aphids under the leaves, I’d probably be better off eating $50 bank notes.

So, Zen Buddhism it is. I will love all living things, including earwigs and Colorado beetles, and I will sculpt sand and pebbles into interesting shapes. I might even have a water feature to calm the thoughts.

You know what will happen don’t you? Before you can say rock there’ll be unwanted plants growing in it. Probably rogue lettuces and silverbeet from a past life.

I wonder how Zen Buddhists feel about Roundup?