Growing Your Own Garden

The days are getting longer, the weather warmer, and the trees greener. It’s a great time to start growing your own vegetables so you reap the rewards of fresh, hand-picked, organic garden goodies.

Having nutritious fruits, vegetables and herbs literally at your fingertip will make creating healthy meals and managing your diabetes all the easier. Even growing just a few of your own vegetables can help offset the higher cost of buying them from the supermarket, not to mention they will last longer too.

The choice of thriving produce is endless, and while not everyone has the backyard space for a self-sustaining vegetable patch, you may be surprised at what you can achieve with a fewer planter boxes.

Here’s our pick of the bunch to kick start your garden patch.

1. Fibre-filled Cherry Tomatoes

How to grow them:

In a pot on a well-exposed window sill. Tomatoes need a sunny site and good drainage.

Ready In:

12-16 weeks.

Benefits:

  • Tomatoes are packed with nutrients that support heart health – fibre, potassium, Vitamin C and choline can all help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • One cup of cherry tomatoes has around two grams of fibre and research has shown high-fibre foods can help lower blood glucose levels.

You need to:

  1. Fill your selected pot with an organic, house-friendly potting mix up to 2.5cm from the top. Firmly press a couple of tomato seeds into the centre of the potting mix.
  2. Cover the seeds with another centimetre of soil and pack the soil firmly down.
  3. Give the top soil a spray of water if it seems dry, but don’t drench it. Soggy soil = rotten seeds.

Spring-in-Your-Step Spring Onions

spring-onion-bottle-planter

Image source: www.modamaxi.com

How to grow them:

In a 5L water bottle under direct sunlight (choose a position that receives about 7 hours of sunlight per day)

Ready in:

5-7 days

 Benefits:

  • Spring onions are loaded with antioxidants and Vitamin C, both of which can lower cholesterol and blood pressure, minimising your risk of heart disease.
  • Sulphur compounds in spring onions help to alleviate high blood sugar levels.
  • Spring onions are a common remedy for flus and viruses, stimulating the respiratory system – a great pick me up as we transition from winter cold and flu season.

You need to:

  1. Prepare your planters – the empty water bottles – by cutting a ring of spring-onion-bulb-sized-holes around the body of the plastic (allow approx. 5cm distance between each hole).
  2. Fill the bottle with a layer of soil up to the first line of holes. Layer the onion bulbs on top of the soil being careful to line up each bulb with your pre-cut hole. Make sure that the top of the onion faces outwards.
  3. Spray a small amount of water between each layer and repeat step 2 until you reach the top of the planter.
  4. Set it on a windowsill and watch your onions come to life!

Once they’re grown, simply cut the stem 3cm above the root, and within a week they will grow back again!

Clever Capsicums

How to grow them:

In the sunniest part of your vegetable patch – they require heat to enable the fruit to ripen. Capsicum can also grow in a pot, just make sure the soil is deep enough for them to anchor their extensive root system.

Ready in:

10-12 weeks

Benefits:

  • With anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, capsicum can also aid weight loss by boosting the metabolism and lowering triglycerides.
  • Capsicum is a rich source of Vitamin A and C, which are both powerful antioxidants. These antioxidants help in fighting free radicals in the body and help in treating heart diseases, osteoarthritis, bronchial asthma, cataract etc.

You need to:

  1. Propagate seeds in individual cells, leaving them outdoors during warm daytime conditions and then indoors at night. Transplant to your planting pot or garden bed when the seedlings are at least 3-4 weeks old.
  2. Capsicum is a slow growing plant so be patient and ensure the soil is kept constantly moist and weed free.
  3. Harvesting comes down to timeliness and taste – leave green capsicums to mature a little longer if you prefer the rich flavour or the red variety.
  4. At the end of the season, rather than ripping out the plant and starting again the following year, prune the plant back and it will regenerate when the warm weather returns.

Now that you’ve got the produce, check out some healthy recipe ideas to enjoy your harvest.

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