Planting your garden with a purpose is an excellent way to save you money. With inflation causing the price of produce to go up, you can reap benefits by providing fresh, healthy veggies for you and your family from your vegetable garden or landscape. Fresh garden vegetables will help you eat more salads and cooked vegetable dishes daily. Garden fresh food you harvest the day you eat them is more nutritious and tastes better.
Store-bought vegetables lose much of their nutrient content by the time you get them home. Some examples are spinach which loses 64 percent of its vitamin C after one day in the fridge; green beans lose 23 percent after one day, green peas, which lose 61 percent after two days; and carrots lose 42 percent after one week. Gardening will provide you and your family with the most nutritious and best-tasting food while saving you money. Here are some favorites to consider and some welcome surprises.
Slicing or Cherry Tomatoes
I live in California, where we eat a lot of salads, Mexican food, and sandwiches. I also love Italian food and the sauces for pasta that are often tomato based. Tomatoes are essential to our eating; you can't beat a fresh garden tomato for a rich taste. Tomatoes contain a lot of lycopene containing the antioxidants beta carotene (vitamin A), vitamin E, and vitamin C. Tomatoes are also high in potassium, which is essential for your muscles, nerves, and heart.
Spinach is packed with powerful nutrients such as vitamin A, iron, and vitamin K.Like other leafy greens, spinach provides fiber, magnesium, and calcium.It needs to be planted in partial shade in light soil with added microorganisms like Vital Garden Supply's Soluble Mycorrhizal Fungi. These powered fungi can be supplied with a fertilizer injector that can easily be added to your drip system, making water and nutrients much more available to the root system of your garden veggies.
Eating healthy organic garlic and related plants like onions, shallots, and leaks have been historically grown for its medicinal properties. Garlic contains acompound called allicin which is responsible for the distinct smell and is known to boost the function of the immune system. Garlic supplementation by including it in your diet will help to prevent and reduce the severity of common illnesses like the cold and flu. High doses of garlic appear to improve the blood pressure for those with hypertension and can improve cholesterol levels too. Staying healthy can save you money spent on doctors and medication. Garlic is planted in the fall while the soil is still warm. It will be okay through the winter and be ready for harvest by the end of June. It can be planted in rows where the soil has been amended, with the cloves planted every 6"-8" apart and the rows far apart.
Onions contain powerful antioxidants, which help slow oxidative damage to cells and tissues in the body and fight against cancer-causing free radicals. The sulfur in onions acts as a natural blood thinner, preventing blood platelets from collecting. This is good for lowering blood pressure and preventing the risk of heart attacks and stroke. Most gardeners start by buying and planting "sets," which are very small immature onion starts. Plant it about an inch deep by poking a hole with your finger. If the starts have long roots, cut them back to about an inch long. You might want to sprinkle a small amount of mycorrhizal powder into the hole to help the roots' ability to absorb nutrients and water. Drip tape or Soaker Dripline is an inexpensive product for watering rows of onions or any row crop. Water them daily for the first few weeks or until the onion shoot pops through the ground. Onions help us all to stay strong, active, and healthy.
This fast-growing herb is the perfect partner to grow with tomatoes and is also one of the easiest to grow. Basil leaves offer a sweet, earthy, peppery fragrance and flavor that can be used in salads and on sandwiches and made into pesto to use as a dressing to flavor sauces for pasta. What is also so great about basil is that it will grow into a small bush, and you can harvest it by trimming it back monthly three or four times during the summer months. The leaves can be dried and then added to sauces or on salads along with the dressing. If you have two or three plants in your vegetable garden, your harvests will yield enough pesto for an entire year. At my house, we freeze the pesto in small 4–6- ounce jars for use all year long and gift much of it away to the lucky recipients on their birthdays or at Christmas time. Basil grows well from starts in organically rich soil planted 3 feet apart after the danger of frost is past in the spring. They should do well if you circle each plant with a 6" Soaker Dripline.
Another super healthy veggie is kale, a member of the cabbage family. There are many different types of kale, but our favorite is dinosaur kale. Kale is very high in nutrients and low in calories. As one of these superfoods, it is known to be one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can grow. One cup of kale contains 200% of the RDA of vitamin A and almost 700% of the RDA of vitamin K. Over 100% of the RDA of vitamin C plus other vitamins and minerals.
Lastly, kale is high in the nutrient's lutein and zeaxanthin, which can reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts. You can steam it or sauté it with other vegetables or cook it alone as a side dish. This "must grow" food can also be cut up into small pieces and cooked with scrambled eggs or as an omelet.
If you are interested in eating and growing organic food, you know that when you go to the grocery store, there is a premium price on these foods. Growing them for you and your family makes sense and can save you quite a bit of money. You do have to do the work, that's true. But you get the satisfaction of knowing where your food came from, what it takes to grow it, and how efficiently this process can be. At DripWorks you'll find starter gardening kits and all the resources you need to water your plants. The drip irrigation starter kits for raised bed gardening and row crops kits are great to help you start growing your food.