Can you grow your own super foods? There are many plants that you can effectively grow yourself in the garden and be able to harvest the freshest possible ingredients, capturing all their essential oils and flavours whilst it’s most powerful. A diet rich in coloured fruits and vegies, like red and yellow tomatoes, capsicums and peppers in red, yellow and orange, yellow squash, purple beans, blueberries, and orange pumpkins all, contain immunity-boosting antioxidants, and they’re all in season now for planting in the garden.
Key superfoods include leafy greens, like kale, berries, green tea, legumes such as peas and beans, sprouts, nuts and seeds and root herbs. They are all able to be grown in the backyard.
- Leafy greens: aside from the standard lettuces, think about foods like kale, cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. These increase glutathione, an important antioxidant for neutralising free radicals in your liver. Go for the darker green for the best result. Aside from steaming them, try raw juices—think green smoothies, with an avocado or banana for added texture and a drizzle of honey – another great gift from Mother Nature.
- Berries: often berries need a cold winter chill in order to properly fruit, but not all are that fussy and produce liberal amounts of fruits in warm and even sub-tropical climates. Strawberries are probably the most obvious for the backyard grower, as they can be easily grown in pots, hanging baskets and even as a ground cover. Blueberries are also perfect shrubs for pots or small hedges, and are prolific bearers over summer. They like an acid soil and feed with azaleas and camellia fertiliser for the best results.
There are other less obvious choices worth thinking about. Check out Silvanberry and Young berry, both hybrids of blackberries without the weedy status. They’ll need a frame or trellis to climb on for support, but are great at producing kilos of fruit in season which you can easily freeze for when it isn’t. You can also incidentally include berries in you canopy trees and hedges, like native lillypillies, Mulberry trees, elderberries and Brazilian cherries. Or throw in a handful of Cape gooseberry seeds into the vegie patch and your kids will love you all summer as they forage themselves for the golden cherry tomato-like berries.
- Tea: is simply the new growth on a tea camellia that has been picked and oxidised. Green tea has been picked and undergone minimal oxidation. White tea is even simpler. It’s the fresh picked leaves that still have their white hairs on them and have not had any oxidation. And they all contain the alkaloid theine which helps protect you against getting degenerative diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, cancer and diabetes. You can buy Camellia sinensis, the tea camellia, at Eden, and plant it as a hedge, or clipped pot plant, or shrub in the garden. After a few years your bush should be vigorous enough to start harvesting the new tips yourself… then simply pour over hot water, steep, and have and incredibly fresh cuppa!
- Legumes: Think peas in autumn, broad beans in winter and now the weather is warmer, it’s time to sow beans. Legumes are a rich source of protein, fibre and vitamin B. They help you feel fuller, so are great for people wanting to watch their weight, and help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Sprouts and Microgreens: Seeds contain the germ of life, all packaged and ready to grow…just add water! It’s this that makes them amino acid rich and so good for you. You can sprout heaps of things, from sunflowers to broccoli, radish and onion, peas and bean, mustard and wheat grass. We have a great range of sprout kits and an enormous range of seeds to choose from. And they’re normally ready in as little as three days. We also stock a huge range of microgreens. Both can be grown on the window sill too, so even the most space compromised gardener can grow their own!
- Nuts and seeds: There are a huge range of nuts and seeds that you can grow yourself. From Australia’s own macadamia to the ground growing peanut, which grows the ‘nuts’ on nodules underground. We also stock Chia in our herb section, sunflowers and grain amaranth (known as quinoa) in with the seeds. And of course a huge range of herbs that are grown for their seeds as well, like caraway, coriander, dill and fennel.
- Root herbs: ginger, turmeric and galangal are all great additions for your garden. Whilst they do need to be dug to be harvested, you can just take some from the edges of your clump with a spade and then firm the ground back around them again. And while you’re growing a fabulous Asian stir-fry garden, don’t forget to plant some bulbs of garlic… it’s easy to grow your own and the flavour is fantastic.