Whitefly Zen

Wendy Johnson

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As a front-line organic gardener allergic to pesticides of any stripe, I have ample opportunity to practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in our huge, teeming garden. Lately, as clouds of pests and beneficial organisms descend onto our spring crops, I begin to see that Zen practice itself if a kind of “integrated pest management.” “Keep your enemies close, and practice diligently as if to save your head from fire,” I mutter to myself as sucking whiteflies blanket the lower leaves of our heritage tomato plants growing in the greenhouse.

IPM has some very simple guidelines for practice that arise out of an ecosystem approach to working with pests in the garden. In these guidelines I hear echoes of naturalist John Muir from almost a century ago: “When we try and pick out anything by itself we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” This is sound Buddhist teaching, and so are these IPM guidelines from which core Zen principles step boldly forth:

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