The popularity of growing your own fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices is on the rise and having an allotment or growing patch is appealing to more and more people.
Urban living can make it difficult to grow your own food with a lack of outdoor space. But there are plenty of options for growing in pots on a small balcony or even on a windowsill.
Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her five home-grown nutritious favourites.
Sprouted beans certainly have plenty to shout about from a nutritional perspective. Plus, they don’t need much space because they can be grown in jam jars.
The sprouting process actually increases nutrient levels. Bean sprouts are high in protein so will fill you up, plus they have plenty of bone-loving minerals and immune-boosting vitamin C. They’re a great way of increasing the nutritional content of any meal and are low in fat and calories. They can be easily added to any vegetable dish, salad or smoothies.
You can sprout any type of bean: black beans, mung beans, lentils and soy beans are all good for starters. Rinse them well and then place them in jam jars with double the amount of water and cover the tops with muslin and an elastic band. Keep them at room temperature and drain them and re-fill with water twice a day for about four or five days. You’ll soon have some nutritional powerhouses ready to eat!
Rosemary and Thyme
The perfect herb combination! They are both ‘staples’ in any herb garden.
Rosemary is a delight in both lamb and chicken dishes and is very popular throughout Mediterranean countries. This may be partly due to it being a powerful antioxidant so can help protect the body. It also adds a delicious flavour to roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes wedges. Rosemary may also act as a stimulant in both the nervous and circulatory systems and can help to soothe the digestive system, relieving indigestion and flatulence.
Thyme has an amazing aromatic flavour so is widely used in cooking, especially in casseroles and soups. Thyme has also been traditionally used as a decongestant to soothe coughs and catarrh.
These can also be grown indoors all-year round in simple seed trays. In fact, they’re probably the easiest of all vegetables to grow. The dark green colour of rocket means that it’s rich in energising iron and carotenoids which are powerful antioxidants. Rocket also has a lot more taste than some other salad leaves and can be used in many recipes as well as simple salads.
You can also grow crunchy lettuce leaves so you should never be without some quick go-to greens when you’re on the run. Plus all salad leaves can be picked over and over and they just keep growing back.
If you’re quick, there’s just about time to plant some beetroot seeds now and they’ll be ready for eating in the autumn. Beetroot is actually one of the UK’s best-selling seeds. This is partly because home-grown beetroot is absolutely delicious but also because it’s a superfood. Its rich dark colour delivers a wealth of antioxidants to protect the body from serious diseases.
If it’s energy you’re looking for then having some more beetroot in your diet can really give you a boost. Beetroot juice is very popular with athletes and recreational exercisers because it helps the body better sustain endurance activity. Beetroot is also rich in energy-giving iron and folic acid. If you start to sow beetroot seeds now, they should be ready for eating in about 90 days’ time. Beetroots can also be grown in lines or pots.
Marrows are traditionally sown during May and June. However, the soils are warm right now so if you’re quick you’ll get a crop harvested before colder weather shows it face.
As marrow is very high in water, its nutritional content is not as good as some vegetables, but it’s great for alkalising the body. The body prefers to be in a slightly alkaline state generally, and many vegetables and fruit help this process along; marrow can certainly do this too.
It doesn’t have too much taste on its own but comes to life when stuffed with other vegetables, sprinkled with cheese and roasted in the oven, or filled with a chili con carne mince. Marrow can also be turned into chutney and makes a great addition to your ham or cheeseboard.
Growing anything even in a small way, is very therapeutic and great for relieving stress. So get growing this season and enjoy the fresh nutrition it provides.
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