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Organic Food

Easy to Grow Super Foods and Why You’d Want to Grow Them

Plants produce compounds known as phytonutrients. Thus far 25,000 different phytonutrients have been found in the plants we eat. These compounds, when ingested for extended periods of time, can help prevent or stop cell damage; thus, stop or prevent disease.

Chemical and pharmaceutical companies have a lot of money to promote their products. Over the decades they’ve managed to brainwash most of the public into thinking chemicals are the way to good health and successfully growing food. This is reflected by conventional agriculture and conventional medicine, which is for the most part a result of heavy lobbying and promotion by these industries.

But the facts are it’s your garden that can provide you with “medicine” that is much more potent ( in a good way) and has the potential to reverse illnesses like no drug can. AND these cures and preventions won’t take every penny you have.

Where Else Can You Get the Best Nutrient Dense Food?

Unfortunately conventionally grown anything does not offer much in benefits. Ingesting the chemicals, pesticides and GMOs they contain will work against your health.

Also, it’s no secret that nutrition in vegetable and fruit crops has been declining steadily for decades. Soil abuse and breeding new varieties for yield and shelf life rather than taste and nutrients are the primary reasons for the decline.

Organic on a large scale can’t offer you as many benefits as when it was done on a smaller scale by the few who really followed organic principles. Large fields of one crop (which is how large growers operate) does not offer the diversity necessary to keep with true organic methods.

If you do have to buy produce and are not able to grow all that you eat, ask a lot of questions and try to determine if the growers are “truly” organic.  You would be amazed at the people who call themselves organic growers and are still using Round Up.

As I elaborated in this post, don’t be fooled by hydroponics. They can be labeled as “organic” only as a result of the the money that industry had to make that happen. Chemically fed fruits and vegetables are not organic. Produce from healthy soil is what gives you all the benefits you’re looking for to keep or return to good health.

Easy to Grow Super Foods

Note: I will only highlight some of the benefits these super foods can provide.  If you do a few searches you can probably come up with many more.

GREENS – especially those vegetables considered brassicas – such as broccoli, collards, cabbage, kale, and Brussels sprouts – are known to be rich in nutrients that are especially good for brain health.

Tip: In many areas some brassicas might have to be protected from pests with light row cover fabric or planted strategically when the weather offers relief from the pest insects.

LETTUCE – Your highest source of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients in lettuces is the darker green lettuce such as a Romaine. Nutrients it offers are needed to repair DNA cells, help with healthy bones, eyesight, and blood pressure.

LEGUMES – includes peas, chickpeas, lentils, peanuts, and all kinds of beans.

Great source of protein, B vitamins, and other important vitamins and minerals that are critical for brain and other body functions.

SPINACH is loaded with nutrients linked to eye health, prevention of chronic diseases, heart health, fighting infection and inflammation, blood pressure regulation, skin health, immune system functions, bone health, muscle health and much more.

(I found it interesting that spinach has more potassium per cup than bananas!)

BEETS and SWISS CHARD are in the same family as spinach and also nutrient dense.

ONIONS – Packed with nutrients involved with immune system health, protecting cells against damage from free radicals (unstable molecules), iron absorption, tissue repair, metabolism, nerve function, red blood cell production, fighting inflammation, regulating blood pressure, preventing blood clots, and controlling cholesterol levels.

Note: Books have been written on the multitude of benefits from eating garlic and onions.

GARLIC – Our society uses garlic mainly for flavoring, but throughout history the main use was medicinal.
It is one of the most incredibly nutritious plants you can grow and is said to contain a little bit of almost EVERYTHING you need.

It’s instrumental in immune system functioning, reducing blood pressure, improving cholesterol levels, fighting infectious disease, reducing fatigue, improving bone health, and a multitude of other things.

SWEET POTATOES – contains compounds to help the heart, reproductive system, blood pressure, immune system, eyes, brain growth and development, and reduce inflammation.

CARROTS – contain vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients related to healthy vision, immune function, fat and protein metabolism, blood and bone health, blood pressure control, healthy skin, and conversion of food into energy, removal of toxins from the body, and maintaining a healthy heart rhythm.

ASPARAGUS – another nutrient dense vegetable containing phytonutrients linked to healthy blood pressure, heart and brain health, anti-aging, and reducing inflammation.

It’s a natural diuretic that also helps rid the body of excess salts. Also contains a detoxifying compound that is said to breakdown harmful carcinogens in the body.

A good source of potassium and protein.

BLUEBERRIES, STRAWBERRIES, BLACKBERRIES, RASPBERRIES

Blueberries have taken front and center in health news over the last year because of their major link with improving brain function.

But ALL berries (and other fruits) offer you minerals, vitamins and other phytonutrients that are crucial to your brain, heart and over all good health.

Growing your own is the easiest, cheapest, and best way to get all the benefits (including good taste) that these fruits have to offer.

Tips: How to Get Started with Fruit this Year

If you’re not currently growing any berries, why not start this year with strawberries or blackberries.

Even if you don’t have a place prepared for them, you could “heel them in” into a small available section of the garden and allow them to get a good start on growth. Then transplant them properly in the fall or next spring. That way you’ll get fruit next year.

(With strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries you get fruit in the second year.)

Strawberry Variety Suggestion:

You might want to give Tristar a try.  It’s not quite as sweet as Earliglow, but almost.  AND it produces a lot longer than Earliglow.

Another thing that surprised me is how it seems to tend itself better than any other variety I’ve tried.  The 3′ x 6′ patch in the garden is in one of the worse sections, has competition from invasive tree roots, and has literally been unattended since Bill was sick in 2014. I’ve have on occasion pulled a plant that looked like it had seen better days, but that’s it.

The plants are not as plentiful as they probably would be without so much competition from roots.  In spite of that I’ve been getting 2 1/2 to 3 cups of berries each day for 3 weeks.  They’ve even produced in this cold spell we’ve had.  66º F for 3 days.  Earliglow stopped producing the first day it got cold.

Tips on Blueberries

Why not get a couple of blueberry bushes and heel those in to give them a start and then transplant in the early spring next year. You might even get a little fruit next year, but more of a harvest the 3rd year.

If I were you, I wouldn’t pay too much attention to all the folks who say that blueberries need acid soil (low pH of 5.5). What they really need is a soil high in organic matter, mulching to insure they have enough water to get a good start, and sunshine. My super yielding blueberries have been growing in soil that has a pH of 6. 8 for almost 20 years.

Strawberries and blueberries fresh from the garden in May.

Be Aware:
Fiber comes only from whole plant foods.
It’s necessary for good health and keeps the “gut” moving.
There is no fiber in meat.

A Sick Country

Statistics show more than 45% of the U.S. population has at least one chronic disease. In other words, a disease that persists for a long time, constantly recurs, and/or is hard to get rid of.

Examples include alzheimers, cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, asthma, and more.

The Good News – Why You’d Want to Grow Super Foods

The good news is that a lifestyle of whole food plant based diet high in nutrients, water without contaminants, coupled with keeping active and not engaging in activities that harm the body (like smoking) can prevent 80% of most of those chronic illnesses.

OUR choice of diet and lifestyle controls our risk level for disease.

Whole foods are plant foods as close to their natural form as possible. This eating lifestyle as defined by Dr. Colin Campbell (who has studied this for 60 years) is also without any added salt or oil.

Just in case you’re wondering what I do:

  • I seldom eat meat. When I do, it comes from a source in Idaho that I talked about in this post.
  • Olive oil is what I use on salads (along with Bragg apple cider vinegar), although I learned to do with much less when I was confined to my kitchen floor for 3 1/2 months while my broken femur healed.
  • A little salt is added to most meals although I’ve trained myself to do without the salt and still enjoy the food.

One of the Best Gifts You Can Give Your Child

Is to teach them the proper way to eat AND keep them active (as opposed to being glued to TV or video game).

Why?

Risk for chronic diseases begins early in life. Doing the right things beginning early in life gives one an even greater chance to avoid all these diseases and stay healthy all through life.

Parental guidance in what to eat and what to do to keep healthy can make a big difference in your child’s adult life.

If you’re not already eating this way and want to,  just start with a small  change. Your kids can do likewise.

How to Get Started Making the Change? – Don’t Make It So Hard.

Whatever you decide to work on first (whether it’s cutting back on or giving up meat, giving up processed food, switching to all organic, or being more active) start with something you know you can do.  It doesn’t matter how small it may seem.  If you continually take those baby steps each day, you’ll finally arrive at your destination.

If you take on so much at one time that it seems impossible, it’s easy to become discouraged and QUIT! That definitely WON’T take you where you want to go.

It takes time to create a new lifestyle.

Better to start small. Feel comfortable about that small change.  And then move to the next thing.

All those small efforts made day in and day out, will result in big changes to your life.  The best changes  being better health and a more fulfilling life.

Final Thoughts

You’re never too young or too old to get better!

My best and warmest wishes for great success in making all the changes you desire!

Theresa

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Suggested reading about Blueberries:

Blueberries – What They Need

Growing Blueberry Bushes – Conventional vs. the TMG Way

Blueberry Bushes – Growing Blueberries

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All content including photos is copyright by TendingMyGarden.com. All Rights Reserved.

6 Comments

  • What a great post. So true, so true.

    What a spring! It is like someone waved a super wand over us. Everything from Redbud to blueberries to even the scrubs in front of my house that produce little black berries for the winter Mockingbird, have twice the blooms and berries they usually have. Every spinach and kale seed I planted came up and are growing like crazy! We’ve had some strange weather but the plants love it.
    Thanks Theresa

  • Awesome article Theresa. I recently had my annual checkup and even though my bad cholesterol is low the doctor wants me to get it lower. I will print your article and hang it on my refrigerator as a reminder that “Food is Medicine” and increase my healthy eating plan. Thank you so very much, it was the motivation I needed.

    Garden is partially planted, we are having a wet and cold Spring here in Northern Nevada. I had planted some collard greens plants around St. Patrick’s Day when I planted peas and they are doing well. Cooked up a mess of greens a couple days ago and they were delicious. Happy Gardening!

  • Great post! It reminded me to sprinkle a few more carrot seeds tonight. Glad to hear you’re well along in your recovery and I’m hoping you’re able to get out and spend more time out in your garden this spring. I’m anxiously waiting for some photo updates!

    My own vegetable garden is almost all in; Southern Ontario is still a little chilly but this is the weekend for planting judging by the weather reports! A couple years ago, we planted 3 year old apple and peach trees, spaced a minimum of 10 feet apart, and topped to keep small and accessible; we have had great success growing our veggies in the space between. This year we’ve expanded our “orchard” and now have the space around our fruit trees planted with perennials and herbs, and alllllll the rest of the enclosure is for vegetables. We’ve double-dug the rest of the grass space and have used straw to heavily mulch, and we’re just about ready to start popping in plants. All the onions I missed last year are up and looking great, lettuce has re-seeded itself, garlic is tucked absolutely everywhere, cold-weather greens are almost ready to be picked for a first salad, everything that was winter-sown is thriving, and it is in great part thanks to you! You never steer us wrong.

    Take care and thanks again Theresa =)

    Sending love from LaSalle!

  • Amazing post.
    To be honest, if you want you can have every plant and it will grow if you take care of it properly. Since I remember my parents and grandparents have grown various vegetables such as carrots, lettuce and potatoes (they were always in their yard). When I started my garden I had the biggest problem with blueberries but as you mentioned in your post they need an acid soil. Mine wasn’t as they needed so that is why they have withered so easily. This year I am experimenting a bit with strawberries and I decided to try yellow ones (https://gardenseedsmarket.com/wild-strawberry-yellow-wonder-seeds-fragaria-vesca.html) . Have you ever tried growing them?

  • Hi Ann,
    Glad you enjoyed the post.
    I think you may have misunderstood what I said about blueberries. I added the links to 3 posts (at the end) I wrote about blueberries that may help clarify. I’ve had blueberries for 20 years and my soil stays about 6.8, which of course is NOT acid.

    I was growing the yellow strawberries last year when I broke my leg. Not sure what happened to those strawberries. Will let you know if I find them.

    Thanks for taking time to share your thoughts Ann.
    Theresa

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