Quin Shakra’s Plant Good Seed Company in Ojai is on a mission “to connect plants and people.” Here, five varieties that Shakra recommends you plant this spring.

Seedlings in soil
Markus Spiske/Unsplash

Quin Shakra started as a produce farmer, but when he toured a farm in Southern Oregon and saw plants that had gone to seed, he found his true calling. “I realized I had a desire to understand the whole life cycle of the plant from beginning to end—birth, reproduction, and death,” he says.

The Plant Good Seed Company, his organic seed emporium out in Ojai, California, is now on a mission. “We want to connect plants and people,” he says. “It’s fun to think that there’s a common point between people who grow from seed—we want to be involved with life.”

For that reason, he encourages beginner gardeners to plant from seed (and avoid transplants where possible) when planting in the spring, if they really want to be part of the full process. “You have more of a full lifecycle view on the plant, and you get to see the little first leaves come out,” he says. “You get to recognize things that you wouldn’t get to experience with transplants.”

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“For beginners, it’s far more educational,” Shakra explains. “It requires someone being able to accept that there are mistakes, limitations, and that’s just in gardening overall. How you come back from those mistakes is the teaching point.”

His best advice? Remember: Plants want to grow! “It’s your job to become a keen observer and fast responder to plant needs,” Shakra says.

Here, five seed varieties that Shakra recommends you plant this spring:

Hibiscus

Hibiscus/Red Roselle from Plant Good Seed Company

Quin Shakra/The Plant Good Seed Company

Commonly used to make teas. “While it’s often referred to as a ‘flower’ when you find it in stores,” Shakra says, “the part one uses is the calyx or pod, which forms after the flower.”

Ice Cream Melon

Ice cream melon from Plant Good Seed Company

Quin Shakra/The Plant Good Seed Company

A cross of two heirlooms, ‘Ice Cream’ melon was named for being able to hold a scoop of ice cream when the seeds are removed,” Shakra says. Very productive and sweet.

‘Glass Gem’ Corn

Glass gem corn from Plant Good Seed Company

Quin Shakra/The Plant Good Seed Company

This originated with well-known ancestral corn breeder Carl Barnes, a part-Cherokee Oklahoma farmer. “The translucent, gem-like kernels are usually ornamental,” Shakra says. However, the smaller kernels can be used for popcorn, and the larger ones can be ground into flour.

‘Siskiyou’ Orange Tomato

Siskiyou orange tomato from Plant Good Seed Company

Quin Shakra/The Plant Good Seed Company

A medium-size, pleated, round but slightly flat orange tomato. “We’ve produced this variety in three different climates—Southern Oregon, Philadelphia, and here in Southern California—and every time it’s been extremely productive,” Shakra says.

‘Vana Holy’ Basil

Quin Shakra/The Plant Good Seed Company

“‘Holy Basil’ has a relationship to traditional Indian medicine (Ayurveda),” says Shakra. “They’re used for tea—anecdotally it relieves stress and anxiety.” Vana’s leaves are pale green, fuzzy, and have a clove-like aroma.