Plant your garden with a purpose this year by choosing veggies and berries that can be juiced daily all summer long. To that end, Dripworks demonstration garden will be growing heirloom varieties of carrots, beets, kale, cucumbers, parsley, celery, tomatoes, and melons that will provide the raw ingredients for juicing and smoothies to keep your immune system strong. At the end of this blog, I’ll recommend my favorite powerful juicer.
Carrots deserve praise for being a high source of soluble fiber which helps lower bad cholesterol and glucose. They also act as an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. Carrots are cold tolerant so they can be planted early in spring without having to worry about frost and are ready to harvest in two and a half months. Usually, they are planted in well composted raised beds in straight rows. The easiest way to irrigate carrots is to lay out a line of 1/4" Soaker Dripline (DSD6) or Drip Tape (TDE04100) and plant along the irrigated row.
Beets add a sweet and earthy quality to juice that is just not found in any other vegetable. Beets are touted as a blood cleanser and they protect against heart disease. The entire beet plant can be put into the juicer. They are also cold tolerant making them available year-round if you plant them every 120 days. Try the Detroit Dark red as they are old standards and most flavorful. Beets are also planted in rows about 6" apart.
Kale Is among the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. It is a favorite leafy green that is easy to grow with a big nutritional payday. The fiber in kale is a key element in digestive health, lowers cholesterol levels in the body, and can help strengthen the immune system. Kale has more iron than beef, making it a staple in a vegetarian diet. Dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, and chard are a great source of vitamin C. In the western US kale can survive the winter making it available for juicing year-round. To irrigate kale simply run some 1/4" Soaker Dripline around a kale plant and you’ll ensure a robust plant. As they grow profusely, only a couple of each of these plants is needed in your family garden each year.
Cucumbers and lemons are the ultimate way to add a refreshing element to your juice. Cucumbers, of course, can be added to jugs of water to give it a better taste. Cucumber juice can have a normalizing effect on your body temperature too. On a hot day it will cool you down, and when you have a fever, cucumber water or juice with cucumber as an ingredient can be effective. Choose a sunny spot in your garden near a fence or with a trellis nearby as they are climbers and can be lost when the plant is mature, large, and trailing on the ground. A thin-skinned variety is best for juicing such as the Muncher Cucumber available at rareseeds.com.
Parsley is the best addition to your morning juice to freshen your breath. It cleans out a toxic colon which is the underlying cause of bad breath. Parsley also contains folate which helps to protect blood vessels and reduces the risk of heart attack. The high level of carotenoids in this herb make it good for your vision. Parsley likes to be planted in full to partial sunlight.
Tomatoes and Chilies are excellent juicing companions. Four tomatoes and one chili make a nice juice to drink, and you get the added benefit of a high amount of lycopene, a natural substance that has one of the most potent anti-cancerous and anti-inflammatory properties known. Make sure you remove all the seeds of the chilies as they can be hot and very irritating to your throat and stomach. If you are using spicy chilies, you might want to wear gloves when cutting up the chilies as they can irritate the skin and burn the eyes when you are not careful. Both veggies require a similar rich loamy soil, lots of warm summer sun, and some support such as wire cages to hold them up.
Zucchini is a rich source of vitamin C and is also very rich in antioxidants. The juice from zucchini can also help to moisturize your skin, and many claim that it can help reduce the appearance of cellulite. It is best to remove the skin as it can make the juice taste bitter. Otherwise, this juice can be enjoyed on its own or with a dash of lemon added to it. Keep your eye on your zucchini as it has a vigorous growth habit with the zucchini itself seeming to grow (sometimes at an alarming rate) every time you turn your back. Cut it off the vine once it reaches 12"-14".
Celery is excellent if you suffer from gout. It helps to reduce the buildup of uric acid crystals in the body, and this means less inflammation and pain. If you buy celery make sure it's organic as it will be less rich in nitrates that can cause problems if you suffer from kidney disease. Celery requires a long growing season (130-140 days) and grows best in a cold climate. Constant water supply is essential as well. If celery suffers from a dry spell, it will become stringy and tough. The crop is a big feeder requiring rich fertile soil. Celery needs to be fertilized (top-dressed) during its growth period. Out here in California celery is a fall crop requiring planting around September first. It’s a summer crop only in the far north, and a winter crop in the south.
Berries are a favorite of mine, are relatively easy to grow, and can be mixed with some of these vegetables in a blender to make a sweet healthy drink. Berries will certainly help convince your kids to enjoy their vegetables! Strawberries are probably the most popular and easiest to care for, blueberries the most healthful, and raspberries the most distinctive. If you buy berries in a grocery store, only buy the organic berries as the non-organic kind are some of the most toxically sprayed of all foods.
Highly Recommended Juicer/Blender
Not all blenders and juicers are easy to clean. I bought a VitaMix blender 5 years ago and have found that it can easily blend, juice, or liquify any food and can be cleaned in minutes! Delicious smoothies are a pleasure to whip up too. The VitaMix is user-friendly, powerful, and self-cleaning, making eating healthy easy.