If, like us at Seeds to Sow, you are on a health kick to start the new year, then you may be interested in growing five of the healthiest vegetables that you can eat, right in your own garden. This will give you easy access to fresh healthy produce right at your door.
The great thing about these five vegetable varieties is, that with a bit of planning, you should have access to them all year round. Either, through fresh harvesting or from using any gluts which you can freeze or pickle, whilst still maintaining the health benefits.
Beetroot is a health food champion - low in fat, high in fibre, full of vitamins (A & C) and minerals (calcium, iron & folic acid) and packed with powerful antioxidants.
Beetroot is a very versatile vegetable which can be eaten cooked (boiled, steamed or roasted) hot or cold, or grated raw in salads. They can be blended into a classic soup, smoothie or juice and small beets are excellent pickled. They can even be used in cakes and ice cream with their vivid colour brightening up any dish. The greens should also not be overlooked, they can be cooked up and enjoyed in the same way as spinach.
Start sowing beetroot in March, and with successional sowing you can be harvesting these delicious roots from June right through until the end of the year, with the beets sweetest until October.
I know Christmas is over but Brussel sprouts should be for life not just for Christmas based on their exceptional health benefits! These little round superstars have one of the highest levels of vitamin C (helps strengthen the immune system) and vitamin K (anti-inflammatory) in all vegetables. They are again low fat (unless fried with bacon!) and high in fibre.
Sprouts can be served simply boiled, or sliced and sautéed with bacon, or put in soups and casseroles to add extra flavour, bulk and fibre.
Start sowing Brussel sprouts indoors in February, planting out after last frosts in May. Harvest September to December, with sprouts tasting sweeter after the first frosts.
Calabrese and Broccoli are loaded with vitamins (C, A, B6 and K), minerals (Potassium, Manganese, Phosphorous), dietary fibre, folic acid and sulforaphane - thought to be the major component of broccoli’s magical healing powers! Its is also low in fat and calories. The most commonly eaten parts of it are the flowering heads, which are shaped like a tree, coming off a thick, central, edible stalk.
Calabrese and Broccoli are best steamed rather than boiled this will retain flavour and texture better. Small spears can also be stir-fried. The thicker stalks are great for making soups like Broccoli & Stilton Soup.
Start sowing indoors from February, planting out after last frosts in May. Calabrese can be harvested that year from June to December, Broccoli can be harvested January to April the following year.
So, what’s the big deal about Kale?
It can be used in so many ways - you can throw it into your smoothies, bake it quickly into salty kale chips, stir-fry it with garlic and olive oil, use it into soups, stews, curries and even shred it into salads. It has a great peppery flavour, slightly sweetening once exposed to frost.It is easy to grow, needs minimal care, and will reward you with a great harvest for much longer than most of the other veggies in the Brassica family.
And you don’t need a huge patch to get an ongoing supply of leaves for the table as it will grow really successfully in pots. Currently regarded as one of the healthiest vegetables on planet earth, Kale is packed full of Vitamins (A, C & K) and minerals (iron, folic acid, and calcium), has incredible health benefits (anti-flammatory, anti-cancerous and anti-oxidant to name a few). Kale is also virtually fat free and low in calories.
Start sowing Kale indoors in February, planting out from April. Harvest from June right through until the following March.
Not spinach at all, but actually part of the chard family. It still keeps producing healthy green leaves during the heat and winter when most spinach has gone to seed so it does seem perpetual or never ending.
It’s packed with a large variety of nutrients, including: vitamin K, A, C, magnesium, manganese, potassium, iron and riboflavin.
It contains dietary fiber and has other essential trace elements including copper, calcium, phosphorus and sodium. One cup will supply about one fifth of your daily vitamin C requirements.
The young leaves can be used in salads or use the more mature leaves as you would spinach, either steamed and served as any other green vegetable or added to quiche, lasagne, pies, pasta, curries or as a pizza topping.
Start sowing perpetual spinach indoors from March, planting out after last frosts in May. Harvest from June through to the following March.
Eating a wide spectrum of fruit and vegetables is obviously the best way to maintain a healthy diet. As with the vegetables above, growing your own makes healthy eating even easier given that you have access to fresh produce right outside your door. We are extremely lucky in the UK, in a climate where we can grow such a wide variety of food on our own doorstep and even wider with the help of a greenhouse.
SOWING AND HARVESTING CALENDER
Not having enough space should not be a limiting factor. We have many varieties which are perfect to grow in pots. Look out for our ‘Perfect for Pots’ sign.
What’s stopping you jumping on the ‘grow your own’ band wagon? It’s fast moving, but with plenty of room for everyone and once you get on board you will never look back.
Why not go to our website, www.seedstosow.co.uk, and look at our full range.?