If you often worry about the effect that GM crops are having on the environment (and your health), then the solution could be to get gardening. Growing your own superfruits and veggies means you know exactly what’s gone into them, so you can be confident that they’re full of natural goodness. And, it’s much more budget-friendly than pricey superfoods you’ll find in supermarkets or health food shops, too.
If you’re not an experienced gardener, the thought of growing your own crops might sound a little bit daunting.But, it's actually a very simple process, and harvesting and eating fruit and vegetables you've grown from scratch is a deeply satisfying feeling. In this article, we've shared four of the healthiest superfoods, all of which are easy to grow at home in a garden, plant pot or window box — just read on to learn more.
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Beetroot belongs to the same family of chards as spinach, and offers many of the same health benefits, like high levels of fibre, folic acid, calcium and iron. They get their reddish-purple colour from a compound called betacyanin, a health-boosting agent which is thought to help suppress the development of certain types of cancer (NCBI). Plus, it's a versatile ingredient you can use in countless tasty dishes: try adding it to a salad, pickling it to make relish, or even making your own veggie beetroot burgers.
To start your own crop of this sweet-tasting superfood, you'll need to sow them from seed. Wyevale Garden Centres have a huge selection of vegetable seeds, so you should be able to get a packet beetroot seeds, some for just a couple of pounds. They'll thrive in a sunny spot in your garden, but you can also use a raised bed or pot if you’re short on space. Sow them according to the instructions on the packaging, and make sure to water them thoroughly at least every ten days during dry spells. Once your beets grow to the size of a golf ball, they're ready to enjoy.
These tasty berries pack a huge nutritional punch, as they contain plenty of vitamins K and C, high levels of manganese, and loads of antioxidants. With their sweet, slightly tangy flavour, blueberries are a great way to add one portion of your five a day to your breakfast: you can enjoy them with yoghurt or add them to a smoothie.
When growing blueberries, the most important thing to get right is the type of soil that you plant them in. Blueberry bushes can be quite picky, and will only flourish in acidic, well-drained soil. If you don't have naturally acidic soil in your garden, then plant them in a pot or container using some acidic compost — look for the word 'ericaceous' on the label. This sort of plant likes to be kept moist, so make sure you don’t let the soil dry out during the summer months.
Garlic may be famous for its pungent flavour and scent, but it also a nutritional superfood that offers a ton of health benefits, too. It’s long been thought to boost the immune system and help us fight off coughs and colds, and some clinical trials even suggest it can help to lower blood pressure. An endlessly versatile ingredient, you can add a crushed clove of garlic to almost any dish for an instant pop of punchy flavour, so it’s a great one to grow at home.
All you need to get started is a few cloves of garlic and a sunny patch in your growing patch. For best results, buy a few young garlic bulbs from a garden specialist, rather than the supermarket, as crops grown from shop-bought garlic cloves are more likely to fail. Rake some soil improver or fertiliser through the soil, then plant the cloves 6 inches apart with at least a foot of space between each row. After the plants come into bloom, you can use the white flowers as a garnish for salads, stir-fries, or tasty risottos. Once the leaves turn yellow, you’ll know the garlic bulbs are ready to be harvested and eaten.
We all know that leafy green vegetables are good for us. But, when it comes to salad leaves, nothing beats kale. This crunchy, frilly-edged plant is a powerhouse superfood that’s absolutely packed with antioxidants, fibre, and vitamins A and C — according to some experts, it’s one of the most nutritionally dense veggies you can eat (Healthline). And, even better: it’s super easy to grow at home.
To grow kale, you’ll need a small patch of soil in a sunny spot in your garden, although it will grow just as well in a large container or window box. Sow the seeds in a tray according to the instructions on the packaging, and then transplant them to their final growing location once they've started developing their first adult leaves. Kale is one of the hardiest vegetables out there, so you'll find that they generally require very little maintenance once established — just remember to water them during dry spells and harvest the leaves from the bottom of the plant to encourage growth.
All of these fruits and veggies are well known for their health-boosting qualities, so if you want to start eating more superfoods, it’s a great idea to start growing your own. As long as you follow our advice when sowing, growing, and harvesting your crops, you should have a thriving kitchen garden that's full of nourishing goodies.