Do you know something that is low risk but high reward?
I know, not the answer you were waiting for, but hear me out.
This year, I, like many of you, have spent a lot of time at home, which has allowed me to tend to my garden and grow more produce than usual. I’ve swapped out regular big shops at the supermarket for picking the veg, herbs and fruit off the vines in my garden.
Whatever I can’t plant myself, I’ve also been endeavouring to purchase from a local small grocer or the farmers markets. I've recently made Saturday mornings a farmer's market "masked meet up" with friends which is a good way to encourage each other towards healthy eating and supporting farmers and growers.
So, what's the best part about gardening?
Gardening is one hobby that helps you to slow down and get back to your roots (pun intended). Therapeutic in nature, gardening is one of my favourite forms of mindfulness as it gives you a greater appreciation for fresh and whole produce. For kids, gardening can foster a sense of responsibility, wonder and patience.
Contrary to popular belief, gardening can provide a pretty quick turnaround (if gardening were a person at a desk job, they’d always have everything done way before the deadline!), and will make your garden, balcony or window look beautiful.
It’s time to say hello to fresh produce you’ve made yourself – you awe-inspiring, glowing health god/goddess.
I'd love to offer you some tips on how to get started with growing your own home grown produce, so that you can feel more inspired to eat healthy.
So, that sounds great, where do you sign up?
Well, the first step is to decide how much space you have for your new gardening venture. Will it be a few herb pots on a window, a wall of herbs on your balcony or an abundant garden outside? Remember to keep this as realistic as possible so you can reap the benefits. It's ok to start small, just remember less is more. You can also take a look at my Beginners Guide to Growing Your Own Veggies.
Even if you don’t have a lot of space, you can still grow a diverse range of herbs and spices. You can read more here about How to Create a Kitchen Garden.
Some of my favourite herbs to grow that are easy to maintain and good ones to start with in pots are:
Supercharged Tip: Herbs like full sun exposure, so plant them pots or in a sunny part of the garden or on a wall that gets a lot of light.
If you have more room to play with, why not go crazy with greens? Just check the best time to plant, but some greens grow for 10 months of the year. If you're not in spring or summer, choose varieties that thrive in cool soil and relatively low light conditions. You can also seed them indoors in balanced conditions and then transplant them at a later date. Microgreens can been grown all year round too.
My favourite greens to grow are:
- Boy Choy
- Rainbow chard
Supercharged Tip: Your soil should be moist, but your plants shouldn’t be drowning! Be careful you don’t over-water them.
Want to add some colour?
To add colour to your garden palette, I recommend growing your own:
- Snow peas
- Spring onion
Supercharged Tip: The key to healthy plants is good-quality soil so, aim for organic potting soil and if possible, some compost from your garden.
Mushrooms are not greens, but they can grow well in home gardens and indoors. For those who want to grow these tasty and nutritious delicacies, you can use ready-made mushroom grow kits to get started.
So, you’ve grown your fruit, vegetables and herbs – now what?
Let’s explore ways you can utilise your new-found produce for a healthier you.
- For your homegrown kale, rocket, spinach and rainbow chard: Include them in your smoothies for the ultimate nutrient hit. While some may be immediately turned off by the green-looking sludge that appears after you’ve processed a smoothie with greens, you can hardly taste them, and they add a boatload of nutrients.
My Lockdown Gut Immunity Smoothie is the perfect example of a nutrient-packed green smoothie that tastes delicious. It’s the ideal way to sneak in extra veggies for kids, too.
While parsley is the perfect soup topper, don’t forget that it can also add flavour and health benefits to your savoury baked dishes. I love adding it to my Tray Baked Salmon or whipping it up for a fresh Gremolata.
- For mint: If you’re looking for some encourage-mint, why not make a mint tea? Bring the water to a boil, remove from the heat and add fresh mint leaves. Steep for three to five minutes, add a sweetener of your choice and then voila: mint tea.
Or, if a veggie dish is mint to be for dinner, why not add mint leaves to a homemade pilaf? My favourite is this one here.
- For basil: who doesn’t love pesto? Seriously, I only plant basil so I can make pesto. If you’re looking for a new pesto recipe, why not try this one a Zucchini Noodles with Basil Pesto on for size?
- For a mix of herbs: When you have an assortment of herbs, and you’re not quite sure where to turn, use them to flavour up your homemade crackers. My Garlic and Herb Crackers are full of herbs and great for snacking. So, come on – get cracking.
- If that’s not egg-xactly what you’re looking for, have you thought about adding herbs to your frittata? Rosemary, mint, parsley, coriander, thyme and basil can add a flavourful punch to any frittata, including my Green Eggs No Ham Frittata here.
- For strawberries: hello, chia berry jam deliciousness. So good.
You can add the jam to sweet or savoury foods, there is no judgement here!
I’d love to know – do you grow your produce at home and if so, what kind? Let me know in the comments down below.
If you need me, you’ll find me in the garden.