I try to avoid spending money on anything to do with the greenhouse: the idea is to grow things that will produce seeds or compost for next year - like a tech startup that's profitable from day one and doesn't need to rely on venture capital.
However, I usually buy the odd packet of seeds and this year, went down to my local garden centre to pick up a packet of tomato seeds and one packet of radish seeds. It was only when I got to the till that I found that the tomato seeds cost £4.99, which seemed excessive.
I didn't realise the price was written on the back of the packet and asked the person serving me whether she'd got it right. She showed me she had. I said they were expensive. She agreed and had a look at the packet.
"Well, they're 'the exhibitor's favourite'," she read out.
"Yeah right," I said.
But I decided I'd give the exhibitor's favourite a go, and see whether they'd be my favourite too.
Back in the greenhouse, I opened the little white inner packet, which appeared to be empty. Oh no, there was a tiny little collection of about a dozen seeds in the bottom corner. There were so few that there was no question of trying to sprinkle them onto the soil: they'd all come out at once and land too close together.
Instead, I extracted them each by hand and put them into the soil. Afterwards I thought there must have been a mistake. Surely some machine in a factory had gone wrong and failed to put the right number of seeds into the packet.
I decided to email the manufacturers, Thompson and Morgan, point out their mistake and and ask for another packet. Back in the house, I had a proper look at the back of the packet and saw this:
"Average 15 seeds". How mean can you get? Surely the actual cost of the seeds is the least expensive part of their business? Still, if I'd looked, I'd have been warned. That's an average cost of 33 pence per seed. They must be literally worth their weight in gold.
So far, only the radish seeds are sprouting. I hope those precious tomato seeds aren't just going to disappear forever.