I called in to see a friend and found her on her hands and knees planting sunflower seeds - she had an ice-cream container of them.

I said, "Moses, that's a lot of sunflower seeds!"

She replied, "It's my Xmas money."

Well, that made me perk my ears up … Xmas money … friend explained over a coffee.

Three years before, she had been given a packet of sunflower seeds by a Real Estate Agent - some sort of promotion - and she had duly planted them.   When the time came to harvest the flowers a friend of hers suggested she hock the blooms off at the local dairy, which she did, getting $1 a head in the hand.   Now that set her thinking and the following year there was enough money from her sales of sunflowers to buy all of the treats for the Xmas table.  The dairy thought that was great because they had made a good mark up and my friend had spent her portion of the money in their shop (nothing like buttering up your clients).   Demand had outstripped supply and, this year, there are about five hundred going into the ground!   Now that's a win situation - small enough to be called a hobby, big enough to make a good sized dent in the Xmas expenses and pleasant enough to fit in with the lifestyle.

I'm eyeing up my dahlias.   I planted twenty five bulbs last year and I got twenty five beautiful blooms.   It looks as if twice as many are coming up this year …..