It happens each year around the same time and yet, without fail, we are always filled with the same level of unbridled joy at the mere thought of it: Spring. Is. Coming! Among many other wonderful things, the lengthening days and upward-creeping temperatures (honestly, it’s happening!) mean it’s almost time to start your vegetable seeds! This printable seed-starting calendar is a helpful guide for when your favourite veggies and annuals should be started for best results, but before you reach for the same old standbys, let us introduce you to six unexpected edibles that are worth shaking up your garden plan – and your dinner plate.
1: Caramel Crisp Popcorn
If you, like us, go to ball games and amusement parks specifically for the caramel popcorn, then you’re about to have your dreams come true. This popcorn is bred specifically for caramel coating, with a special mushroom shape when popped that helps the coating cling to the kernel. The large sweet cobs are also delicious fresh!
2: Bloody Butcher Corn
The kernels of this cob dry to a deep red colour – no doubt the inspiration for the somewhat sinister name. A dense kernel means this corn is suited to grinding into cornmeal or grits vs enjoying as corn-on-the-cob – it’s also a beautiful ornamental variety for fall displays. This one needs to be started as early in the season as possible, so don’t drag your heels!
3: Lemon Cucumber
These do not look like your average cucumber – the round shape and lemon-coloured skin are distinctly different than what you’re used to. Inside, the flesh is mild and sweet, with no bitterness, and perfect for slicing. Be prepared for the vines to sprawl and produce a lot of fruit – along a trellis or fence is the perfect spot for your new favourite cucumber plant to thrive.
4: Parsley Pea
This plant is the gift that keeps on giving! Pick the delicious edible tendrils, leaflets, and flowers, or resist the temptation to harvest the greens and wait for the snap peas instead (we’d suggest getting the best of both worlds by simply planting lots!). These do well in a patio container or flower box – ideally, one conveniently located close to the kitchen for snipping fresh tendrils to enjoy on salads and sandwiches.
5: Chile de Arbol
If you like a salsa that bites back a little, this pepper is exactly what you want in your garden. Easy to dry, they develop a pleasantly hot and smoky flavour and have a long shelf life. It’s extra worthwhile to put a little TLC into starting this pepper yourself – when planted in a container and brought indoors over winter, this variety will survive as a perennial for several seasons.
6: Wasabi Radish
Anyone else instantly craving sushi, just from the name of this radish? Us, too. If you’re the type that orders extra wasabi, you’ll love this bright green radish with a similar flavour and heat. Enjoy the crisp flesh, or grow it for micro-greens with the same lovely spiciness.