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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.

April 27, 2010 — 11:07 pm
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