Want to get fit? Grow your own! Homegrown vegetables are nutritious, healthy and surprisingly easy to produce yourself!
Why choose homegrown vegetables?
The arrival of brighter spring days often signals the end of our winter stew dependence, as our tastebuds suddenly crave lighter, healthier fare.
There’s only so much bad food a body can take – at least that’s what I tell myself! But, truth be told, I adore vegetables and when I was a child I often requested a whole plate of the things, usually casting the meat aside because it had ‘funny bits’ in it. Indeed, as my growing abilities developed, my love of eating vegetables was amplified. Before long, I’d taken over my Dad’s veg patch!
With the current wave of vegan diets, there’s increased interest in fruit, vegetables, herbs and anything green. Homegrown harvests are much better for you, and you can be sure they aren’t doused in who knows what chemicals.
There will be a higher nutrient content in your own produce too: what you’re buying in the supermarket are actually ‘old vegetables’. The longer a harvest is disconnected from the plant, the less goodness it retains. There’ll be much more flavour, succulency and satisfaction in the vegetables you’ve grown yourself. And they won’t taste of plastic either! You’ll find that tomatoes are sweeter than Haribo, carrots crunchier than Pringles, and so on…
Homegrown vegetables: What to grow
Before you begin growing your own, let’s think how you could switch up your daily diet to meet your ‘5 a day’. Rather than relying on synthetic energy drinks when you’re about to pump muscle in the gym, reach for the beetroot! It’ll give you increased energy and stamina. And, how about opting for some natural fibre in the form of blueberries, and I bet you didn’t know you could grow them yourself!
There are also some great carb alternates in the vegetable world, so you can put that pasta fork down right now! Sweet Potatoes have gone from strength to strength in recent years. They are packed with vitamin A and vitamin C, which will help fight that afternoon slump at your desk.
In fact, any root vegetable is a great source of carbs. We could also take a leaf out of Popeye’s book and snack on some spinach; the high levels of iron will bolster your immune system. No more summer flu!
We haven’t even got around to mentioning Kale, either. It’s the ultimate hipster vegetable and never far from an East London salad bar! Kale really is king: it’s the most nutrient dense food on the planet, yet as easy to grow as a weed!
Homegrown vegetables: Where to start
For anyone looking to grow their own fitness this season, you’ll be pleased to know that – for a change – size doesn’t matter. From wheatgrass shots cultivated on the windowsill to decade-developed asparagus beds outdoors, you should be able to find the space to enhance your diet the way you want to.
Taking up just a few square inches of space, sprouting seeds and micro-greens are an excellent entry-level choice. These fledging veg actually have a more concentrated goodness than fully grown specimens, think of them as undiluted cordial! Snip off a few and sprinkle them over each meal, giving it a nutrient halo!
Now, as long as you don’t find them too hot to handle, chili pepper plants are also perfect for windowsill culture. Place the branching plants in pretty decorative pots, and surreptitiously blending in with the houseplant gang!
Just outside the window, your could rent your own ‘window box allotment’! Space shouldn’t be an issue, as most vegetables have a smaller cousin these days, from golf-ball carrots to slim leeks.
You can also grow some very cool, trailing tomatoes. They won’t need any of that fussy pruning everyone always moans about, either. Most urban vegetable crops are kept at a safe distance from pest and disease in such an elevated position too. You could also grow some edible flowers and really get your friends talking as you munch on what’s previously been known as a garnish.
Of course, with more space you can really start to go all ‘Tom and Barbara’ with a fully-fledged vegetable garden! Either way, with all the super tasty, space-efficient meals you can grow, I think it’s time you took that takeaway off speed-dial and picked up a spade, don’t you?