Some of my fondest childhood memories are of spending hours working in the greenhouse in early March, when outside, the prairie winter was in full force. The contrast between the warm humid air and earthy smell inside and the bone chilling cold on the other side of the thin greenhouse walls was like nothing else. I planted tiny, almost magical capsules, each with a plant hidden inside. If I got everything right – the temperature, humidity, depth, moisture, growing media – from the tiny little capsule, a plant would emerge.
There is something remarkably fulfilling about taking a small seed and turning it into a basket of beautiful produce – growing it the way nature intended, in harmony with its surrounding environment. And there is joy in being able choose varieties based on flavour, quality, nutritional value and beauty instead of on shelf life and how well something ships. Once one moves past the mass produced, chemically dependent “cheap seed,” one discovers an astounding world of amazing varieties, colours, and flavours.
When choosing what varieties will adorn my garden, I always imagine the delicious, healthy meals I can make – from spicy salsa to hearty vegetable soup. I think of different ways to preserve what I grow. Canning, drying, pickling, and fermenting allow me to enjoy the abundance of my harvest for many months beyond the growing season.
Much of the information you’ll find here is based on what has worked well for me. My hope is that this guide becomes a useful tool providing you with accurate information, a few new ideas, and the inspiration to try something new.
Ryan Timothy Townsend