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Hooray for capitalism, writ small

Uncle Badger, my other half, is a keen gardener. “Keen” is a British word meaning “howling bugfuck obsessed.”

He alerted me to a little pocket of thriving capitalism I would never have imagined existed: eBay seed merchants.

Seeds are only good for a relatively short period of time, unless you cryogenically freeze them or something (I’m sure you know that, but there may be one or two ignorant plant-slayers such as myself out there). So to have viable seed for next year, you need a living plant this year. The big seed companies grow a huge variety of stuff, but there are thousands of rare and unusual plants that get left out.

And that’s where these guys come in — thousands of talented gardeners with an allotment or greenhouse and a bit of a special touch with a particular rare or desirable type of plant. Uncle B has ordered several batches of seed from eBay. They come promptly, neatly packaged in a little baggie with an instruction printout.

At £1 a packet, nobody is getting rich. But the sellers are making a bit of scratch doing something they love, and the buyers suddenly have inexpensive access to thousands of rare and interesting plants.

I love to watch amateurs find a way. Capitalism is like weed (warming to my plant theme), expanding to exploit every available crack in the pavement and skiff of earth.

It’s how you know conservative principles — things like free markets and nuclear families — are the right ideas: they’re the things people do naturally and spontaneously when you leave them alone.


Comment from Allen
Time: April 27, 2010, 11:26 pm

In addition to veggies and such I like to plant a little tabacky every year. Sniff, just like home in NC. Here’s a place to buy tobacco seeds.

In my recent trip to NC I popped over to Durham to see what they had done to the old American Tobacco Company’s place, supposed to be tourist thing.

Lord have mercy, they were virulently non-smoking there. I had a cheroot in my mouth, and the security guard came scuttling over to make sure I wasn’t going to light up. This was outside of course. Worse than California. I mean really, tobacco re-built NC after the Civil War. Idiots.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: April 27, 2010, 11:59 pm

According to the Daily Beast a shopkeeper here in the UK was dragged through the courts because he didn’t have a ‘no smoking’ sign in his store.

That’s how bad it’s got here with the socialists in power. It’s not just illegal to let your customers smoke – it’s illegal not to display a sign forbidding it.

Her Regal Stoatliness makes a good point about capitalism. When I read it, I thought about the Soviets who sold a few beetroots or pairs of Levis or bars of soap or Beatles LPs round the back streets of Leningrad for a few roubles.

You want the ultimate ‘viral’? It’s capitalism – as raw and as natural as the need to breath.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: April 28, 2010, 12:17 am

Heh. There’s a website called the Daily Beast, Uncle B. Just to clarify, I believe he was using the term generically.

Comment from Mrs. Compton
Time: April 28, 2010, 12:43 am

Have y’all checked out etsy.com yet? EVERYone has their own little shop front these days.

Comment from Allen
Time: April 28, 2010, 1:09 am

BTW, Weaz and Uncle B, that site above is in England. IIRC y’all gave up the evil weed some time ago. I just thought I might tempt you, knowing Uncle B is such a keen gardener.

Hey, just think of me like a sort of modern day Walter Raleigh. Wait a minute, didn’t he make a trip to the Tower for a really close trim?


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: April 28, 2010, 1:41 am

Nope, the US gave up tobacco first and hardest. It’s happening here, too, but it hasn’t gone as far yet. There are still a fairly large number of furtive smokers here.

Uncle B and I were both *gigantic* smokers, back in the day. We gave it up within six months of each other. He’s never looked back. Me, I’ve held my resolve…but I still get cravings. Thirteen years, and it still hurts, at least once a day.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: April 28, 2010, 2:38 am

Hmm, I wonder if tobacco plants would grow well in Colorado……

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: April 28, 2010, 6:03 am

Allen: “This is a sharp medicine, but it is a physician that will cure all diseases.” I think you can guess what Raleigh was speaking of.

Scubafreak: As recently as the 1950s, tobacco was grown in commercial quantities in WI, MN, MO, and KS. So Colorado should be OK.

Comment from JuliaM
Time: April 28, 2010, 7:19 am

Ah, eBay! It’s not all old clothes, DVDs and antiques – it’s pretty good for all sorts of plants. Never bought seed, but there’s a thriving trade in orchid cuttings that I’ve indulged in many a time…

And don’t forget boot sales – always cheap seedlings available there. No H&S, no consumer rights, but they work. So not surprised to see rumblings about cracking down on them in the MSM from time to time.

Comment from Pavel
Time: April 28, 2010, 8:50 am

Scubafreak – I had a friend who tried growing tobacco with pretty bad success. It apparently takes a longer growing season than we have here. Also, you have to cure tobacco afterward, which requires drying at a lot slower rate than our super-dry air allows.

Comment from Roman Wolf
Time: April 28, 2010, 9:27 am


Another problem I believe is that the soil around here isn’t all that great. Granted, I’m not a gardener, so I don’t really know all that much about the mystical art of making plants come out of the ground.


Capitalism is simply grand. It’s what drove me towards studying economics. Even though I hated most of my professors, my love of free markets never failed. Sure, they have flaws, but that’s because humans have flaws, as markets are nothing more than trade among people. I’m starting to believe that the hatred of markets could be some sort of misanthropy.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: April 28, 2010, 12:24 pm

I don’t know shit about gardening, but I come from an area that was prime tobacco-growing territory once upon a time. Tobacco was famous for absolutely raping soil. As was cotton.

Comment from Sporadic Small Arms Fire
Time: April 28, 2010, 1:21 pm

if you think that Badgery habits of tossing seed into freshly scratched dirt are somewhat eccentric, just imagine the debate of presenting a mate who is keen on being a silly mid on or silly mid off.

Britishness… it is a condition. Many prefer to watch from a safe distance, your lot in life was to jump into the sett furry toes first.

Comment from Bill (still the .00358% of your traffic that’s from Iraq) T
Time: April 28, 2010, 6:58 pm

Capitalism is like weed

Capitalism makes you sneeze?

Only thing I’m allergic to — Ft. Dix CID used to light off a pinch of “excess evidence” whenever I was due to show up just to see how long it took before I started sneezing blood.


Comment from Scubafreak
Time: April 28, 2010, 7:01 pm

Damn. There goes my ‘ScubaTubes’ cigar franchise dream…..

Comment from Bottlenose Dolphins
Time: April 28, 2010, 8:24 pm

Sir Walter Raleigh explains how to use tobacco. Originally a Bob Newhart bit but this guy does it pretty well too.

Comment from jwpaine
Time: April 29, 2010, 2:07 pm

“[…] they’re the things people do naturally and spontaneously when you leave them alone.”

Funny. That’s not what I do when left alone.

Comment from Greg
Time: April 29, 2010, 9:26 pm

“It’s how you know conservative principles — things like free markets and nuclear families — are the right ideas: they’re the things people do naturally and spontaneously when you leave them alone.”

With a quote like that, you’ve just cemented my conviction that you are one of the great conservative bloggers in the world.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: April 29, 2010, 10:21 pm

You are now officially my favorite commenter, Greg.

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