What can you buy at the chain store accused of supplying the NZ cannabis industry? Alanah May Eriksen goes shopping

As I hand over my Eftpos card to pay for the two indoor gardening books, one of the friendly shopkeepers mutters, "And now for the unpleasant part", and asks for my ID.

"But I'm buying only a couple of books," I say.

"I don't know if you've seen the news - it's part of our bail conditions," he answers. Indeed.

The New Lynn branch of Switched On Gardener is following a court order which requires every customer to hand over identification and give their phone number, address and date of birth.

The strict conditions follow the arrest this week of 15 staff members accused of selling hydroponic gear for cannabis growth.

The store and 15 other Switched On Gardener branches are among 58 businesses hit after employees allegedly sold drugs, plants and growing equipment to undercover police.

Franchise director Michael Quinlan has said he plans to appeal against the bail conditions applied in the Auckland District Court this week, saying a "little old grandma" coming in "for a bag of potting mix" did not deserve to be interrogated.

But what about a woman in her early 20s asking for heat lamps to grow some tomatoes indoors?

That was my story.

I told the two men behind the counter I wanted to buy the lamps for my friend as a birthday present as she lived in a high-rise apartment in the city which didn't have a balcony.

They suggested my friend would probably have to keep the tomatoes in a wardrobe as the lights would hurt her eyes.

But I would need more than just the lamps - probably fans, too - and the total cost would be more than $1000. A pretty expensive birthday present.

The whole indoor growing plan was shaping up to cost at least $40 a month.

The men suggested a book instead.

They then wrote Integral Hydroponics: Indoor Growing Principles for Beginners & Intermediates and Gardening Indoors: The Indoor Gardener's Bible on a form next to the details of my driver's licence.

"We're basically creating a database for the police."

Which, I guess, is a warning to any city-types who love their "tomatoes".