With many of us mulling over our seed catalogues at the moment, are you finding yourself looking at the number of seeds in a packet and thinking, "Well, most of those will be wasted"? Lettuces are my particular bugbear. There's no way I'm going to get through 1000 lettuce seeds before their viability falls off.
With Rachel Martin, it was cabbages. Her children were starting to rebel at the sight of yet another cabbage. Then - horrors - she lost her seed tin. "We went to buy more," she told me, " and the bill came to £80!"
So, about five years ago, she and her husband dreamt up MoreVeg, selling vegetable and other seeds in smaller numbers. They visited lots of gardens, heading straight for the vegetable patches to see how many of each veg most people actually grew. "Most only grow about 20 cabbages," she said.
This is such a simple idea, I wonder no one's thought of it before. The cost per seed may be a bit more in a MoreVeg packet, but lower prices per packet mean that you can afford to try more veg and varieties. For Rachel, growing a wider variety of cabbages created unexpected interest. Instead of groaning at the greens on their plate, her children started asking, "Which cabbage is it?"
MoreVeg started with 124 varieties and now sell over 1000. They won't be expanding the numbers much further because 1000 is quite enough to administer, says Rachel. They don't grow the seed themselves, but what she and her husband do, though, is grow and taste almost everything they sell. The only exceptions are varieties such as Sunspot Cucumber which they put on the list because of overwhelming demand. And flowers have to earn their keep - those stocked will attract bees and butterflies or have some other use.
I think a lot of us can see the point of MoreVeg. If you have a smallholding, vast quantities of individual veg seed make sense, but for the rest of us, as Rachel says, “No one sells anything in the quantities that people actually want.”