Do you know where your last meal came from? Like, truly know how it was grown and treated or processed and made it to the market, where you selected it and later prepared it for your lunch or dinner? You may buy from the organic produce department, which we applaud, but the only way to truly feel confident about what you choose to nourish your body with is to grow it yourself.
You may be thinking, “but it’s only February” – which may be true, but if you are interested in growing your own crops for the spring, winter and maybe even fall, then now is the time to start preparing. You don’t need to have a lot of space to grow a garden that produces a healthy assortment that is readily available. A raised garden bed or even a few hanging baskets could be just what you need to create a vibrant and vitamin-filled salad.
If the thought of growing your own food is overwhelming, just start with a few simple
questions. Do I have an area that could soak up some sunlight? What do I eat the most of?
What foods are easiest to grow? What benefits do those foods offer?
Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
Very small garden space
Most people have a window ledge that gets a fair amount of sunshine. Herbs are a great way to grow your own beneficial food that offers a boost of flavor to many dishes. Basil contains antioxidants and can act as a natural anti-inflammatory, rosemary can help with an upset stomach and works as a great breath freshener, and oregano can aid in digestion while working to detoxify the body and boost the immune system.
Moderate garden space
Raised gardens or hanging baskets are the perfect solution for small decks, patios or balconies. Tumbling varieties of tomatoes, such as the cherry tomato, can be planted in a basket and are packed with vitamin C, acting as an immunity and antioxidant booster. One head of lettuce can produce enough leaves to give you healthy salads for quite a while and bell peppers, which grow up, instead of out, offer an incredible dose of vitamin C and can pair well with that salad. Peas need a sturdy trellis, but will wrap around just about anything and contain protein, fiber and vitamin C. One bush can produce quite a large crop of peas. And to throw in some sweetness, strawberries not only are rich in antioxidants, but can also help control blood sugar and can produce a beautiful pot for the patio.
Large garden space
There truly is nothing like digging in the ground to plant a crop and then finding that your
efforts have produced healthy, chemical-free foods. Large spaces allow you to grow just about anything, but a few easy crops to start include squash, zucchini, kale and sweet potatoes (which will yield crops in the fall). These are fruits and veggies that can be added to so many dishes and offer incredible benefits. Summer squash is a high-fiber fruit that contains ample amounts of folate, magnesium and B vitamins, while zucchini, which can be used for some pretty tasty desserts, as well, supports vision and the immune system thanks to its vitamin A content. Known as a super veggie, kale can be added to salads, simmered down for soups and baked for a crispy snack. And it’s packed with vitamin C, magnesium, vitamin A and vitamin K, among other nutrients. Sweet potatoes are just downright fun and rewarding to grow. Planted after the last frost, this vegetable grows under the ground and 90 days or more later, you’ll be surprised to find out many potatoes are available just below the surface, offering fiber, vitamins and nutrients.