Growing veggies
Family Health

Eat Local: 5 Easy Vegetables to Grow in Your Backyard

You're probably well aware of the benefits of eating locally produced food for both the environment and your own health -- but no food is more local than what you can pluck from your own garden. Luckily, there are plenty of options for easy vegetables to grow in your indoor or outdoor setup. Consider adding these five veggies to your garden plot and meal rotation to keep your family happy, healthy, and well fed.

1. Salad Greens

Lettuces and leafy greens come in a wide variety of types with different flavors and textures. This makes them versatile, but they also range in nutrient content. Many lettuce varieties grow quickly and easily with little soil and water, and you can grow them indoors or outdoors. If you're planting outside, remember to tend to your lettuce regularly to fend off insects and other animals in your area that like to munch on it, too. Experiment with different types as the base for your healthy lunches -- arugula, butter lettuce, spinach, and kale all make a great base for salads or toppings for sandwiches.

2. Green Beans

In addition to elevating your meal with a bright-green crunch, green beans come packed with nutrients such as vitamins A, C, and K, as well as manganese, potassium, folate, iron, and fiber. Bush beans and broad beans are among the easiest to grow -- even kids can do it. You may want to consider setting up a trellis or a bamboo post to help your beans climb. Make your healthy harvests last all year by freezing or pickling your beans after they mature.

3. Garlic

All you have to do to grow garlic at home is plant the cloves whole with the pointed tip facing up in a pot with loamy soil. Then, keep them on a sunny windowsill and water routinely, like you would a houseplant. It should take only a week before green roots peek out, and you'll soon be able to use the shoots as garnishes for soups, salads, baked potatoes, and pizza. Plus, you'll gain the added nutritional benefits garlic brings to the dinner table, including nutrients such as flavonoids, selenium, and oligosaccharides. Garlic has even been linked to cancer prevention.

4. Beets

The earthy flavor of beets might make some kids push them away, but when prepared correctly, these deep-red root veggies can be a delicious addition to your meal. They also offer plenty of nutrients, including fiber, potassium, iron, and folic acid, and their pigment comes from a powerful antioxidant called betacyanin. Plant in the springtime, and expect about 50 days for your beet plants to fully mature, but you can plant them at two-week intervals for a continuous supply.

5. Carrots

Carrots bring bright colors to your plate and your garden -- but more importantly, they contain lots of vitamin A, which is essential for healthy vision, skin, and immunity. Plus, carrots are easy to grow. They perform well in fertile, sandy loam. Plant them in a site with full sun and deep, well-drained soil, and you'll have carrots in two or three months.

These are just five of the many easy vegetables to grow that you can plant in your indoor or outdoor garden today. Gardening can enrich your life and your health while saving you money on delicious, naturally grown foods -- why wait?

Posted in Family Health

Carolyn Heneghan creates content for national and regional magazines, blogs, and other online publications, covering a wide range of industries while specializing in business, technology, travel, food, health and wellness, music, education, and finance. Her work has appeared in Loews Magazine, US Healthcare Journals, DRAFT Magazine, brass MAGAZINE, Where Y'at Magazine, and dozens of other outlets.

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*This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute health care advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or physician before making health care decisions.