At the helm of Strathcona 1890 Urban Seed Collections, a seed company aimed at getting Lower Mainland residents excited about growing, is gardener Judy Kenzie. Passionate about food sovereignty, Kenzie creates collections suitable for growing in container gardens, urban balconies, and rooftop spaces; each comes with an individual package of seeds, plus germination tips, and either an activity or a recipe. Here, she shares some of her favourite unique and easy-to-grow seed blends with MONTECRISTO.
The Rare & Unusual collection offers people the opportunity to create a unique garden with vegetables that excite the taste buds as much as the eye. Red Malabar Spinach is very unusual; it tastes like spinach but the leaves are more substantial. Striped Cavern tomatoes are like bell pepper-shaped tomatoes. These colourful red fruits have vibrant yellow stripes that are ideal for stuffing or grilling. Black Spanish radishes, with their cool white inner flesh, make a great graphic statement on a plate and are even more stunning when paired with the vibrant Atomic Red carrots. Antohi Romanian peppers are an uncommon Eastern European frying pepper. I like their meaty walls and range of colour. Lastly, Pattypan squash—a summer squash notable for its small size, round and shallow shape, and scalloped edges—is one of summer’s most versatile veggies. It has a firmer texture than zucchini and is easy to cook.
How to grow:
Red Malabar Spinach
Start growing this green inside between February and April and plant outside in late May in a sunny spot. The seeds can take a couple weeks to germinate, tolerate heat well, and should have a trellis to climb.
Striped Cavern Tomato and Antohi Romanian Peppers
Begin growing tomatoes and peppers inside between February and March (a later date results in a smaller harvest). Choose a pot for each tomato that is about 14 inches wide and 14 inches deep and fill it with fertile, well-drained soil, adding rocks in the bottom for added drainage. Peppers will do fine with a slightly smaller pot. Seeds should sprout within a week, peppers about two weeks. Transplant seedlings to larger containers around six weeks old and gradually expose them to outdoor weather for a few hours each day over the course of a week, before moving them to the garden or large containers. Move the plants outside after the last frost has passed, during a period of warm weather. Tomatoes will require a trellis or tomato cage for support as they grow. Thin the leaves out to ensure the fruits are getting enough light, and place them in a sunny area.
Atomic Red Carrots and Black Spanish Radishes
Carrots and radishes can be planted in the same container, 14 inches deep to accommodate the carrots. As both are root crops, they require similar growing conditions, but radishes will germinate more quickly, making room for the later-developing carrots. Radishes can be harvested around 35 days.
Direct sow two to three seeds in a pot at least 14 inches across and 14 inches deep. Put three or four reasonably thick bamboo poles at opposite sides and connect them at the top. This will allow you to grow the squash vertically by gradually tying it to the supports. The end result will be a beautiful bushy plant that offers giant yellow edible flowers and delicious squash. It’s time to harvest when squashes measure three inches across.