6 Healthiest Vegetables to Grow at Home
Growing vegetables at home have long been touted as one of the best ways to reduce your impact on the planet and your waistline measurements in one fell swoop, but like most great pursuits in life, it takes time, energy and commitment to see results. If you want to make all of that effort count from the inside out, read on for all the important details on the best fruit and veg options for your insides.
Beyond the possibility of developing superhuman eyesight, there are also many earthly reasons to eat carrots on the regular. Not only are they packed with vitamin A, but they also contain the antioxidant beta carotene, which is thought to help prevent cancer, particularly in the lungs and colon. Plus, they’re known for being resilient and easy to grow, making them ideal for anyone with a less-than-green thumb. If you’re growing carrots from seeds, plant them about 50 millimetres apart from one another. Then, position your carrot patch in full sun and water it regularly until the 16-18 week mark, when they will likely be ready to eat.
It may not be conducive to fresh breath, but garlic is well established in the vegetable hall of fame for its health benefits. A key component of ancient medicinal practices, garlic helps to maintain healthy heart function and blood sugar levels, as well as decreasing “heart attack” belly fat and blood pressure. The best part is that planting and growing garlic – a famously hardy species – is easy, and can be done in a range of conditions. All you have to do is plant a bulb three to four centimetres deep in the soil, spiked end up, and cover it with a layer of organic mulch.
Not only the trendiest green smoothie inclusion of recent years, kale is also a regular superfood, packed with a wide range of essential nutrients. If your diet is low on Vitamins A, B, C or K, calcium or potassium, just a cup of raw kale will deliver many of the nutrients your body needs and help regulate blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Capable of growing in full sun or partial shade, kale can be grown from transplants or seeds in as little as 30 to 55 days respectively.
For the fibre, folate and manganese concentration, it’s hard to beat a field full of beets. Rich in nitrates and low in calories, they help maintain healthy blood functions and low blood pressure, ultimately reducing the risk of heart disease. Known as a favourite mealtime addition for serious athletes, they have also been known to improve endurance and performance on the sports field. For the best results, beets should be planted in partial shade, nestled deep in well-drained soil free from rocks or sticks.
For those who want all the health benefits of eating vegetables without the boredom of the same old greens, sweet potato is the perfect addition to the plate. Sweet potatoes are high in fibre, protein, potassium, and vitamins C and B6. Plus, like their distant carrot relatives, sweet potatoes are high in beta carotene, which, again, has been linked to cancer prevention. Keen to start growing some of this sweetness in your own backyard? It’s as simple as planting sweet potato sprouts from a nursery or tubers from a grocery store. The vine roots wherever it touches the ground, making for an easy growing process and a delicious reward after just 16 to 18 weeks, depending on your local climate.
A favourite among rookie gardeners, tomatoes are the ultimate low-maintenance garden addition – just as good for the body as they are for the soul. When it comes to choosing a tomato species for the health benefits, including vitamins A, C and E and anti-inflammatory flavonoids, almost any plant will do; however, for the most pronounced health benefits, it’s best to opt for fruits on the smaller side. Cherry tomatoes, for example, are known to contain high quantities of lycopene, an antioxidant which has been heralded for its protective properties and may prevent the formation of cancerous cells.
Whether you’re looking for an excuse to spend more time outside, wanting to improve your health and fitness, or trying to reduce your grocery bill, growing your own food is a great hobby to take up. Provided that you plan carefully for your future garden and invest in the right crops for your climate, you’ll get to see the fruits (and vegetables) of your labour within a matter of months or even weeks.