If you’ve been reading our magazine for a while, you’ll be well aware of the many benefits of superfoods and how much we bang on about them! However, if you live in a city and don’t have much of a garden to speak of, you might not have thought about growing your own. In this article, Nicky Roeber, Online Horticultural Expert at Wyevale Garden Centres, shows you how easy growing the latest superfoods yourself can be and how you can still whip out your green fingers, even in the smallest of spaces from your mini terrace or kitchen window sill!
What is a superfood?
So, first things first, what actually makes something a superfood? These are vegetables, beans, berries and fruit that are packed full of stuff that is good for you. This might be vitamins that help to improve immunity to disease, or antioxidants and folates that help reduce the risk of heart disease, blood pressure, cholesterol, and some forms of cancer. Iron, magnesium and other trace elements are found in abundance in superfoods, and these help to improve vision, skin and reduce inflammation. No wonder superfoods are super popular and so expensive!
Why grow your own?
Why not grow your own? They will taste much better than anything you will pick up at the supermarket and eaten fresh they will have far more of the stuff that makes them super!
By simply exercising your green fingers and growing your own, you can have bucket-loads of your favourite superfoods for the cost of a few seeds and a bit of compost. Plus, going plastic free will not only benefit the environment but also your health.
The many benefits of gardening
The benefits of growing your own superfoods don’t stop there. In fact, as an article from The Guardian explains, research has revealed that gardening is great form of low-intensity exercise and a fantastic stress reliever. Alongside the health benefits that will come from the superfoods you grow, gardening has proven long-lasting benefits for your health.
How to grow your favourite superfoods at home
If you like the sound of growing your own superfoods, it doesn’t take much to get started. There’s plenty you can grow, even in the great British weather, without needing to be an expert horticulturist. The likes of kale, tomatoes and blueberries can provide you with fresh home-grown food for much of the year — and they’re perfect ingredients to go in the recipes from our Recipe Corner!
Leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, and chard can easily be grown in a container at the right time of year. They are packed full of calcium, iron and vitamins. Vitamin K is great for your bones, vitamin A boosts immunity, and vitamin K helps to slow bone loss.
Fill a pot at least a foot wide with some good-quality potting soil and then sow the seeds of your green of choice from March to June. Place it in a spot where it will get plenty of sunlight, and water it whenever the soil becomes dry to the touch. Simply cut off a few leaves whenever you fancy some fresh greens. Managed carefully, your planted containers can provide you with a modest but constant supply of fresh greens for much of the year.
The British climate is also perfect for growing berries. Rich in antioxidants and vitamins hard to find elsewhere, these are a fantastic addition to your diet. Blueberries, strawberries, and some of the smaller raspberry plants will happily grow in a container as long as they get plenty of sun and water. You’ll get handfuls of fruit from even the smallest of plants throughout the summer, and you can enjoy the health benefits that come from these delicious fruits throughout the year if you set some aside to freeze. These can be added straight to a superfood smoothie from the freezer until next year’s crop comes along.
Don’t get much sun in your urban garden? Watercress is incredibly high in vitamin K and calcium and thrives in the shade, making it the perfect superfood to grow if your space doesn’t get much light. Sow it in a container that sits in a large tray you keep topped up with water. You can also make the most of the light your home does get with hanging baskets full of tomatoes, which are bursting with vitamin C and Iycopene, a vitamin that reduces the risk of prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease.
So, there you have it: everything you need to know to grow superfoods in the smallest of gardens. All that’s left to do is unleash your green fingers and get planting. Happy gardening!