Garden fresh veggies that you grow are by far the most beneficial. Here is our easy to grow favorite veggies that will provide fresh, healthy food for your family and save you money. Having fresh garden grown veggies will help you eat more salads and vegetable dishes every day. Store bought vegetables lose a lot of their nutrient content by the time you get them home. Some examples of this are spinach that loses 64 percent of its vitamin C after one day in the fridge, green beans that lose 23 percent after a day, green peas that lose 61 percent after two days, and carrots that lose 42 percent after a week. Eating and enjoying the harvest will improve your overall health in so many ways! Here are some old favorites to consider, and some welcome surprises.
Slicing or Cherry Tomatoes
I live in California where we eat a lot of salads, sandwiches, and Mexican food, which almost always include tomatoes in the mix. Tomatoes are essential to our way of eating if you like Italian food as I do; growing Tomatoes to make fresh pasta is a must. Tomatoes contain a high amount of lycopene-containing the antioxidants beta-carotene (vitamin A), vitamin E, and vitamin C. Tomatoes are also rich in potassium which is essential for your muscles, nerves, and heart and a powerful element necessary for maintaining your health. Beefsteak tomatoes are the most popular tomato in this category. Also called "slicing tomatoes", these tasty firm veggies are perfect for putting on burgers, sandwiches, and in salads.
How to Grow
Grown in raised beds, in the ground, or in containers. They are disease resistant, easy to grow, and benefit greatly by adding adequate nitrogen-rich amendments (compost, bagged soil, or Vital Garden Supply's High Nitrogen Bat Guano) to the soil ensuring yourself a bountiful harvest. Here at DripWorks we grow considerable plants in Smart Pots (30 or 45-gallon size) and raised beds. If you want to grow our favorite super sweet cherry tomato, try "Sungold." These little gems are so tasty and abundant; you will be assured a successful harvest every year. Eat them fresh or try them in a Caprese salad, sauté with other veggies or mixed with your favorite pasta. Do yourself a favor and ask for them at your local nursery or find them online at Bonnie Plants or Burpee.
Spinach is full of powerful nutrients such as vitamin A, iron, and vitamin K. Like other leafy greens; spinach also provides fiber, magnesium, and calcium.
How to Grow
If you Googled spinach you would find a very long list of reasons to plant this easy to grow veggie. It grows best in partial shade as it will fare poorly under the direct hot summer sun. Late August is a good time to plant spinach either by direct seeding or with plant starts. It will then have the colder months to grow to maturity. A light well-drained soil (organic compost) with added powdered microbes (beneficial microorganisms that help the plants absorb the nutrients found in the soil) like Vital Garden Supply's Soluble Mycorrhizal Fungi and a few inches of mulch on top will provide the perfect venue.
Closely related to onions, shallots, and leaks, Garlic has been grown for its health and medicinal properties. Garlic contains a compound called allicin which is responsible for the distinct smell and known to boost the function of the immune system. Calorie for calorie, garlic is incredibly nutritious and is very rich in vitamin C, Vitamin B6, and Manganese along with trace amounts of various other nutrients. Garlic supplementation and 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 also can improve cholesterol levels. I could go on and on but for me its flavor and cooking properties that stand out the most. It is effortless to add some minced garlic as a complement to most soups and vegetarian, or meat pasta sauces or even scrambled eggs in the morning.
Salad Dressing Recipe
Press a few cloves with a garlic press. Mix it with extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of Hawaiian sea salt.
How to Grow
Garlic is a plant in the Allium family that is easy to grow in light, sandy or loamy soil. It requires a long 7-9 month growing season. Here in California it is planted in early Fall while there are still some warm days and is harvested in late June once the garlic plant blooms. To plant garlic only use reasonably large heads (with 8-10 cloves) of a favorite variety, break it into individual cloves, and plant it in a furrow (row) that is 2-3" deep and use drip tape for each row.
Sometimes called string beans, French beans, or even squeaky beans, there are approximately 150 varieties and come in all shapes and colors. With good organic soil and any luck, these nutrient-packed beans will be very beneficial to your immune system and your digestive (colon) track, containing a high fiber content. Green beans are an excellent source of calcium, iron, potassium, and copper.
How to Grow
Green Beans grow best before the weather gets too hot, planted just after the last frost. These plants grow low to the ground as bushes and need to be picked often as they are most tender when young. Pole Beans are the other variety of green beans and they, take a little longer for them to mature. You'll need to provide a trellis for them to climb.
Rich in both vitamin C and the phytochemicals that increase the effectiveness of vitamin C in your body giving you a healthier more effective immune system. Onions also contain potent antioxidants which help slow down oxidative damage to cells and tissues in the body and fight against cancer-causing free radicals. The sulfur in onions act as a natural blood thinner, and it prevents blood platelets from collecting. Good for lowering blood pressure and avoiding the risk of heart attacks and stroke. Onions also contain Allicin which is a killer of various viruses and bacteria.
How to Grow
There are two ways you can grow onions starting them from seed or planting onion sets. First amend the soil with organic compost that will give the soil some essentials: good drainage and fertility. Start by opening a bunch of onion sets and lay each plant six inches apart in a row. Plant the small immature bulb about an inch deep by poking a hole with your finger, place the bulb in the hole and cover. If the roots are long, it may be a good idea to trim them to 1 inch. You might want to sprinkle a small amount of mycorrhizal powder in the bottom of each hole before setting the bulb in. Once they are all planted, water them in thoroughly once a day until they start showing new green tops. Then cut back on the watering to every other day. Don't make the soil too wet or the bulbs might rot. You can interplant onion bulbs with lettuce, and both will benefit.
Basil is considered one of the healthiest herbs. Basil provides vitamin A which contains beta-carotene, antioxidants and rich in calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, and vitamin C. Basil offers a sweet, earthy, pungent, and slightly peppery fragrance and flavor that combines well with rosemary and thyme in meat, fish and vegetable dishes. It's the flavonoids and oils in basil that give it the most health benefits restricting the growth of numerous harmful bacteria like staphylococcus, E. coli, listeria and others. We harvest it each month by cutting the plant back by 1/3. This helps the plant "fill out" and stimulates regrowth.
How to Grow
Basil will grow well from seed or starts in organic composted soil planted 2-3 feet apart after all danger of frost is past. There are many different varieties, but Genovese is my favorite. A few basil plants in your garden are a must!
Another easy to grow super beneficial veggie is kale, a member of the cabbage family. There are many different types of kale, but our favorite to grow and eat is called Dinosaur Kale. Kale is very high in nutrients and low in calories making it one of the most nutrient-dense foods. One cup of kale contains 200% of the RDA of vitamin A, almost 700% of the RDA of vitamin K, and over 100% of the RDA of vitamin C (4X as much as spinach and more than a whole orange!) plus other vitamins and minerals. Lastly, kale is high in the nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin that 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. It can also be cut into small pieces and add it to scrambled eggs or an omelet.
How to Grow
Kale is a cold weather crop, meaning that it'll do fine is the early Spring or late Fall. If you don't have the space to grow kale in your garden, a container on your deck will do. In your garden, it can be planted every 2-3 feet as it will grow to 2 feet wide and 3-4' height. It prefers partial shade for the peak summer months. Kale does best in loamy well-drained soil or average fertility with a PH of 5.5 – 6.8. Sprout your seeds when the temperatures get above 70 degrees or in a greenhouse. Plant 3-4 plants if you plan on harvesting daily. Make sure the plants are planted perpendicular to the ground and dust the roots with some Vital Garden Supply mycorrhizal fungi powder to assure getting the most out of your soil. Daily watering via Soaker Dripline or Drip Tape will make caring for the plants an easy chore. You can begin cutting the leaves when the plant reaches 12-18 inches. Never cut more than 1/3 of the leaves.
All vegetables are good for our health, but some are better than others. The ones described are some of the best and must have in the garden and ones grown every year in the DripWorks Demonstration Garden.