Do you want to improve your health and include more nourishing foods in your meals?
One option to do it is by cultivating your crops in a garden. Not only is it a great way to save money on groceries, but it also allows you to have fresh, organic produce right at your fingertips.
In this guide, we’ll explore some of the best health-giving crops you can grow in your garden and share tips for cultivating and harvesting them successfully.
Why Grow Your Own Foods?
Growing your own foods is a wonderful way to take control of your health and well-being. By growing your produce, you know exactly what is going into your food and can rest assured that it’s fresh and free from harmful pesticides and other chemicals.
Also, growing your food allows you to have access to a diverse range of fruits and vegetables that may not be readily available in your local grocery store. It allows you to try out different varieties and even experiment with produce that is not commonly found in your area.
Plus, growing your own produce is an environmentally friendly practice that can have a positive impact by reducing your carbon footprint. By cultivating your own food, you can bring down the need for transportation to bring food from farms to your table. This supports sustainable agricultural methods and helps to decrease the amount of waste generated by the food industry.
The interest in gardening has been spurred majorly during the COVID-19 pandemic. As individuals were bound to stay indoors, they found gardening to be both a relaxing and healthy hobby. The 2021 survey by the National Gardening Association is a testament to these statements.
As per the survey, gardening gained significant traction during the pandemic, with nearly 18.3 million new gardeners reported to participate in the activity in 2021. Of the existing gardeners, 42% increased their gardening activity in response to the Covid pandemic, while only 9% reduced their gardening efforts.
Moreover, 88% of gardeners intend to either maintain or elevate their level of gardening activity in 2021, and 89% are planning to increase gardening post-pandemic.
These figures are indicative of the rising trend of people moving to gardening as a way to remain engaged and productive while being confined to their homes due to the pandemic.
Top Foods to Grow in Your Garden for Optimal Health Benefits
Growing your own foods in your garden is an excellent way to get the most out of your meals while supporting optimal health. Given below are a few of the best crops to cultivate in your garden to maximize the health benefits.
Tomatoes are a versatile and easy-to-grow crop that is abundant in nutrients and antioxidants that promote healthy vision, skin, and bones. They can be utilized in an array of dishes, including salads, sauces, and more, to provide flavor and nourishment.
Cucumbers, which are simple to cultivate in your garden, are another nutrient-dense food. They are low in calories, high in water content, and contain a variety of vitamins and minerals that aid in healthy digestion and hydration. You may enjoy them as a refreshing snack, in salads, or as an ingredient in smoothies.
Sweet peppers are a nutritious and visually appealing food that can easily be grown in your garden. Their wide range of colors and sizes makes them versatile ingredients for salads, stir-fries, or roasted dishes, adding both flavor and nutrition to your diet.
Beans are a nutrient-dense food source that can supply your body with protein, fiber, and essential nutrients necessary for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. They are easy to grow in your garden and come in a variety of types, including black beans, kidney beans, and chickpeas. There are various ways you can incorporate beans into your diet such as using them in soups, stews, salads, or as a substitute for meat in a variety of dishes.
The popularity of these crops has been apparent, despite the tendencies toward other crops, in a recent report. The report finds that a number of homegrown vegetables are especially popular, including tomatoes (86%), cucumbers (47%), sweet peppers (46%), beans (39%), carrots (34%), and summer squash (32%).
Whether you opt to grow these crops in tandem or separately, incorporating them into your garden is a catalyst for a thriving and wholesome lifestyle.
Best Practices for Organic Gardening and Using Herbicides Safely
When it comes to growing your own foods, organic gardening practices are essential for maintaining the health of your garden and the produce it churns out. Organic gardening avoids the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, instead opting for natural methods like composting and crop rotation.
One key aspect of organic gardening is managing your garden’s soil health. This can be achieved through techniques such as composting and cover cropping. By prioritizing soil health, you can create an environment where your plants can thrive and produce nutrient-dense foods that will benefit your health.
Even with the best organic gardening practices, weeds and pests can still become an issue in your garden. In these cases, herbicides may be necessary to control their growth and protect your plants.
Thus, you should use herbicides safely and responsibly to prevent any adverse effects on your health or the environment. To achieve this, you should read the label and adhere to the provided instructions when using herbicides, while also being cautious not to spray on windy days or near bodies of water.
Using herbicides that have been registered with the appropriate agency and labeled for use in home gardens is a recommended best practice for organic gardening. These aspects become more prominent with emanating incidents of adverse effects after using popular herbicides like Roundup.
According to TorHoerman Law, many legal firms continue to invest their resources in studying the potential health effects of such herbicides. A blog post by TorHoerman Law cited several studies indicating the potential health hazards of Roundup.
As per those studies, exposure to Roundup has been associated with health issues like Endocrine Disruption, Kidney Disease, Microbiome Disruption, and other potential health problems.
Suffering from these health problems is undesirable, and manufacturers may be held responsible for the potential causes of these diseases. Had manufacturers provided timely advice and information to users, the suffering could have been averted.
However, individuals who have suffered from the adverse health effects of Roundup have taken legal action by filing a Roundup lawsuit to recover their losses to some extent. According to estimates, the Roundup lawsuit settlement amounts and payouts can range from $5,000 to $200,000.
Thus, it is important to prioritize safe and effective methods for organic gardening and be aware of potential health risks associated with popular herbicides like Roundup.
Tips for Harvesting, Storing, and Enjoying Your Homegrown Foods
Once you’ve put in the effort and dedication to cultivating your own produce, the time will come for the exciting process of harvesting your homegrown foods. For optimal results, you should harvest your crops at the right time. The timing of harvesting your crops can impact both their taste and nutritional benefits. You should also store them properly to avoid spoilage and enjoy them for weeks to come.
To prevent harming the crops, it is advisable to handle them with care during harvesting. It is advised to use sharp scissors or pruning shears during harvest to avoid any harm to the plant tissues. Plus, you should harvest leafy greens, herbs, and other vegetables in the early morning when the leaves are turgid and full of water.
Once harvested, store your crops properly to avoid spoilage. Different crops require different storage methods. For example, while some crops need to be kept at room temperature to mature, others such as leafy greens and herbs are best stored in the refrigerator. You should also avoid washing them until you are ready to use them to prevent moisture buildup, which can lead to spoilage.
Finally, you can enjoy the rewards of your efforts. There are plenty of ways to use your homegrown foods to make delicious and healthy meals. You can use them to make salads, smoothies, soups, and stir-fries. You can also preserve them by canning, pickling, or freezing them to enjoy them later in the year.
According to recent data, the number of farms in the United States has decreased from 2.20 million in 2007 to 2 million in 2022. This decline in the number of farms in the country has increased the interest in growing one’s own food.
With the availability of smaller garden spaces, many people are embracing the trend of homegrown produce to ensure fresh and nutritious food. Proper harvesting and storing techniques can help maximize the yield of these crops, making it possible to enjoy the benefits of fresh, healthy food for longer periods.
Growing your own foods can be a fun and rewarding experience that not only benefits your health but also helps to reduce your carbon footprint. By incorporating a variety of nutrient-dense crops into your garden, you can enjoy the fresh taste of homegrown produce and reap the many health benefits.
Remember to use organic gardening practices, including safe herbicide use, to ensure the best quality and safety of your crops. With some effort, it’s possible to create create a thriving garden where both you and your health can also thrive.