EDIBLE GARDENING AND EATING HEALTHY
Any kind of gardening is rewarding, but there’s a special kind of pride to be harvested from an edible garden. Being able to feed our bodies, and our families, with fresh and wholesome home-grown produce pays dividends for our health and happiness. If you’re new to edible gardening, or just looking for ways to eat a little healthier to fulfill a new resolution, here are a few delicious, versatile, and easy-to-grow options to get started with.
HERBS AND SPICES
Herb planters are easy to grow indoors on the windowsill, or outdoors in a container, and provide a fresh supply of herbs on-hand for making all your dishes more flavorful. All they require is a little sun, fresh soil, and water in order to flourish. Beginners will love:
If you like a little spice in your life, you can also try growing some hot peppers in your garden! Jalapeños and cayenne peppers are relatively early to yield - between 65 and 80 days - and can be started indoors in a container before moving outside. True to their reputation, hot peppers love the heat, so make sure there’s no chance of frost before bringing them out into the sun.
VEGETABLES & AROMATICS
Tomatoes are technically a fruit, but with their dish-defying versatility, it’s easy to consider them to be more of a vegetable. If you’re going to plant any veggies, they’re hard to beat! They require some upkeep, staking, and some daily attention, but a successful tomato harvest will fuel salads, sauces, and pasta dishes for months afterward. If you have a dehydrator, you can even make sundried tomatoes and preserve them in olive oil. Whole tomatoes also freeze surprisingly well, so you can continue to enjoy your harvest well into the cold months.
Onions and garlic are go-to ingredients for adding flavor to a dish. Both require virtually no care as they develop underground. Garliccan be planted in the fall before the frost or in early spring, and will be ready to eat by the following summer. For onions, try using sets to save time and make the process nearly foolproof!
FRUIT & BERRIES
Substituting heavy desserts with sweet fruits and berries from the garden will help you cut back on sugar and increase your intake of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Here are a few top choices to include in your edible garden:
Raspberries grow fast, yield generously, and require very little upkeep. Not to mention, their unbeatable sweet and tart flavor makes them a winner for any dessert!
Apple trees can be transplanted into your yard with a little initial effort, and once they start to fruit, they’ll provide an annual harvest of more apples than you’re likely to eat!
Strawberries require a little more care than raspberries, but their sweet yields are more than worth it. Try growing a rhubarb plant in a corner of your property, as well, to grow all the ingredients for strawberry-rhubarb pies, crisps, and cobblers!
PLANT-BASED MEAL IDEAS
More and more experts are touting the benefits of a plant-based diet, and if you can grow your ingredients yourself, your wallet will benefit as well! Try these plant-based meal and snack ideas, suitable for vegan diets:
Zucchini noodles with garlic, basil, and pine nut pesto.
Tabbouleh salad with parsley, tomatoes, and onion.
Basil, tomatoes, roasted garlic, olive oil, and balsamic reduction on flatbread
Pico de gallo, made from tomato, onion, cilantro, and jalapeños served with tortilla chips
Garden salad with cucumber, tomato, carrot matchsticks, red onion, and raspberry vinaigrette
Fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced, sprinkled with a pinch of granulated sugar
Growing your own food is always healthier than buying it, and allows you to get the freshest possible product. Eating healthy with food you’ve grown yourself is the surest way to do something good for your mind, body, and soul that you can be proud of!