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Tomatoes Or Cabbages?

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I guess with too much time on your hands, your mind begins to wander. I was sat alone in my living room, reminiscing about days gone by. I could hear voices in my head (Don't worry I'm not schizophrenic -- yet!). My Uncle John holloring across the yard to my Uncle Joe -- " Cow's in the veg, Joe!"


Back then they grew tomatoes, sold the plants and grew rows upon rows of them in greenhouses spanning the entire length of the garden. The garden was just a small piece of land put aside -- the rest was for hay and there are 22 acres of that.


I used to moan as a kid. The endless trail of vehicles turning up in the yard to buy my Uncle's plants and it wasn't only tomatoes he grew, he grew bedding plants as well. Both my Uncles were slightly reclusive and very shy. I was their salesperson, spokeswoman and general slave to the cause. In summer the trade was relentless and because I was the only person around, I had to deal with the customers. I was 14 and running a business that wasn't my own and I got so sick of serving folk that one day I messed things up so bad that the whole thing almost fell apart.


It was a very windy day as I recall. My Uncles were in the greenhouse labelling all the boxes of plants. There must of been thousands of trays, all neatly planted in rows and in packs of 12. Twelve little plants to one tray! A regular customer drew his vehicle up the drive and asked for the usual, 12 tomato plants, 2 boxes of Alyssum, 2 boxes of Anthirhinum, 2 boxes of Sweet Scented Phlox -- I remember the order to this day!

I'd earlier taken some of the trays outside, but the wind had blown the labels away and in my slight experience, I guessed what was in the trays?


The guy was waiting by his car with his boot open and ready to accept his order. I darted there and back with his plants -- he paid me and off he went! It was a busy weekend, I never got paid for my efforts, never asked for a wage, I just did it because, well I don't know why -- I just did. It was autumn, the tomatoes were ripe and ready to pick. We had lots of customers for those too, so in the autumn I sold the fruit!


A familliar face came one day and instead of his usual 2lbs of tomatoes, he ordered 3lbs instead.

"I didn't get my toms this year," he said. "I got cabbages."


I looked at him slightly bewildered "I thought you bought tomato plants," I said.


"So did I, love, but you gave me cabbages."


I thought back to that day in question -- how could I have mistaken tomato plants for cabbages? Then I remembered how windy it had been and my lack of knowledge in recognising various plant varieties.

It became a regular complaint over the following weeks. Most who had bought plants from us came back to tell us that they'd had some surprises in their gardens this year. Needless to say, while I saw the funny side, my Uncles certainly did not!


I have an idea this year, hairbrained I know, but I'm going to get myself some seeds and start selling plants again. I'm quite experienced now and won't be mistaking cabbages for tomatoes anymore. I've got to do something to get me out of the house. I used to run my own business and employ people, it should be a piece of cake -- or will it!


My first 250 plants have been planted, I have 1000 to go. My daughter will be busy pricking them out for me -- she doesn't know that yet! The selling bit, well I have it off to a tee! If memories are all it will bring then it will have been worth the effort.

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