Friday, 7 October 2016

My Plants Are More Carnivorous Than Me


“Animals are my friends...and I don't eat my friends.” ― George Bernard Shaw

Just a few weeks ago, my partner and I were furniture shopping at Ikea when we came upon the plant section. Me being me and having a quirky (one would hope for it to be seen as this and not 'weird' or 'worrying') obsession with exotic plants, I whisked our trolley straight to the cactus stand. Admiring the array of different succulents, with their varying shapes and colours, I spotted a dionaea muscipula, or, Venus Fly Trap, sitting modest and unassuming next to its prickly and flamboyant friends; its little green mouths lay open, spring-loaded, teeth jagged and at the ready, laying in wait to catch its prey. 

I was intrigued by the peculiarity of this plant and, needless to say, it ended up in my basket. I took it home, placed it on a sun-drenched windowsill, and named it 'The Minions' thinking it would be a nice break from the racial stereotyping of my cacti: Juan, José, Jésus and Carlos. After a few days, I noticed that The Minions were beginning to look a bit sorry for themselves. I checked the level of water in the drip tray and, though it could have done with a tiny top up, I was indeed providing my plant with ample hydration. So, in typical millennial fashion, I Googled. 

After around twenty minutes of browsing, my eyes had been opened. I had previously believed that, as seen in cartoons, my dionaea would entrap flies with a swift snap-shut of its toothy pods and become as self-sustaining and low maintenance as my beloved succulent collection. Needless to say, I was wrong.

Venus Fly Traps require plenty of water to be topped up every couple of days, PLUS regular feeding. And by feeding, I mean live insects or rehydrated blood worms. A further Google told me I could get the latter at my local pet store, as there was no way I'd be able to stand there watching live insects squirm and die as they're devoured by my plant. That's a little too sadistic for me. So along to the pet store I went, and picked up a sachet of dried blood worms. I brought the sachet home, tipped a pinchful into a small tray, and poured a little water on top.

Swishing the water over the blood worms, they began to rehydrate and looked liked small brown jelly worms (yes, this really is as gross as it sounds). I took two toothpicks, and began feeding the worms to The Minions, each pod snapping shut, securing its meal, ready to begin the five-or-so-day-long digestion process that fuels its growth.

Excited, fascinated and a little bit nauseous, I stood back and admired my Minions like a mother would admire a child who had just eaten all their vegetables. Then, suddenly, it dawned on me. I just fed my plants what were once living creatures, whereas I am a vegetarian and have sworn never to eat meat again. I didn't know whether to laugh or give myself a slap on the wrist for not putting two and two together, but either way it unsettled me.



So it transpires that, yes, my plants are more carnivorous than me, and the act of feeding them goes against my reasoning as a vegetarian. Can you see how this makes me feel a little awkward? On the other hand, starving a plant to death because of my own beliefs sounds equally morbid.

OH THE DILEMMA.

I'm hoping the problem will go away by itself. Dionaeas are particularly difficult to maintain, and it wouldn't be the worst thing if The Minions became ill due to my lack of skill, or if a 'strong October breeze' tipped the pot off the windowsill and onto the concrete floor below. Yes, I'm a terrible plant mother. But the one thing I'm sure of is that I don't want to be a terrible vegetarian. It's all or nothing!

I guess I've answered my own question: the plant must go! But before I finish this post, I want to ask my merciful readers, 'what would you do?'. Do you think I'm being irrational here? Or do you think I should practice my vegetarianism to its full extent?
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