Farmer's Drudgery

May 30,2016
The rainy season seems to have begun. It's pleasant to have a bit more comfortably cool weather before the soaring temperatures likely to start in June.

On the other hand, if you attempt to grow vegetables in this season, or any season in this climate in general, you have a hard battle against the encroaching jungle.

Those plants we call weeds have evolved in response to the environmental conditions of this region, and so they thrive no matter what. No sooner are they eradicated than that they peek back up, even through layers of cement and gravel specially designed to prevent them. The vegetables, of course, are special and delicate. We're particularly fond of growing the sort that aren't sold in the supermarket, so the local insects have a feast on them. We'd love to be able to grow them organically, but it seems that if we don't douse them frequently with poison they'll be entirely eaten before they can even sprout leaves. The weeds, naturally, keep growing all over the place no matter how hard we fight them. Insects won't touch them, and they don't even need water to thrive and prosper.

The labours of a single weekend each week are never enough to keep the jungle at bay.

Oddly, some places of business manage to keep actual green lawns going. The linguist Takao Suzuki once observed that the lawn was a very important aspect of American culture, and that Americans often viewed it as something missing in Japan; what they didn't seem to realise was that the soil productivity in Japan is so high that any attempt to raise a lawn would turn to a weed jungle in no time, whereas the soil productivity in the US is low enough that often grass is the only thing that will grow. Speaking from personal experience, every attempt I've made to grow even a tiny patch of grass, whether from seed or sod, has always lost out to the weeds in a matter of weeks, no matter how hard I worked at it. How these shops manage it is a great mystery.

If only weeds bore fruit that would sustain human life. But of course they didn't evolve toward that purpose, and humans can only survive to the extent that we manipulate our environment. The idea that it might be possible to live in 'harmony' with it is an invitation to disaster and death.

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