Joy to Wellness welcomes guest blogger Karen Orlich, CEO of k.o. kidz, with tips on how easy Grow-It-Yourself (GIY) veggies can be this season! Not only is gardening easy on your pocket-book, it’s a great way to stock your fridge with delicious and healthy gluten-free foods.
Kick off your spring with easy Grow-It-Yourself (GIY) vegetable plants! GIY allows better taste, nutrition, and quality of your food while also providing control of what goes in the soil and on the plants. With little effort, you can guarantee organic, healthy food for yourself and your family without the costly price tag!
k.o. kidz picked out the easiest and most common vegetables to grow in any space large or small — no yard needed. Plant these now to enjoy a hearty harvest this summer and fall. You won’t believe the difference in taste from the store bought varieties!
A startling fact — conventionally grown potatoes are one of the most toxic crops produced; showing 10 times the amount of pesticides vs organic, when tested by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Why? Because potatoes are saturated with pesticides and grown so close to the soil surface that they’re routinely exposed to fungicides and pesticides that are absorbed through the thin skin into the meat of the potato. This means that “simply washing or peeling the potato isn’t enough to get rid of the potentially toxic chemicals”, according to Pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene.
All potatoes are remarkably protein rich. The plants are high yield producers and strong performers in poor soil and cool weather. Home-grown varieties taste much better and come in a rainbow of colors. The greens of sweet potatoes resemble ivy, outcompete many weeds, and are edible raw or cooked! So easy to grow in pots or small garden spaces. Don’t forget one of the most important steps, sweet potatoes must be cured after harvest. This will help them to develop their flavor (they won’t have much immediately after being dug up). Place the sweet potatoes in an area with a temperature of 85-95 degrees Fahrenheit with 80-90% humidity for 5-10 days. After this, they should be ready to eat!
All varieties of plants can be ordered on-line too. We’ve had great success with plants from Streambank Gardens. All vegetable plants are grown from USDA certified organic seed stock without using synthetic fertilizers and chemicals.
Multiple varieties of peppers including bell and hot peppers have been tested by EWG and are also considered toxic from pesticide residue that is easily absorbed through the pepper’s thin skin. EWG recommends buying only organic peppers to avoid the toxin intake. Of course, growing them yourself is even better! Peppers contain Vitamin C, carotenoids (includes alpha-carotene and beta-carotene for fighting cancer), and antioxidants.
There are dozens of varieties from small Cherry peppers (1.75” in diameter) to large Sweet Bell peppers (4” wide and 7” long) with varying degrees of ‘heat’ to provide many options for home growers. Chile, Cherry, and Banana peppers can be contained in pots and grown indoors in the winter and moved outside after the final frost. The variety of bright colors (yellow, red, orange, green, and purple) make a fun addition to any patio or outdoor space too! These can be planted in easy grow bags to move in and out of sun or inside during the winter. We love the colorful bags from Gardener’s Supply Company (reg. $12.95/bag). These are a great option for those with limited space. They’re made from a felt-like fabric that lets roots breath so plants won’t suffer from heat build-up, overwatering, or poor aeration. And, they fold flat for off-season storage.
Home grown tomatoes burst with flavor and are delicious right off the vine after baking in the sun. An experience you just can’t get in a grocery store! Widely known for their outstanding antioxidant content, tomatoes are also a good source of Vitamin C, help lower LDL cholesterol and are now linked to bone health.
Smaller plant varieties such as Tiny Tim, Pixie, Small Fry, and Patio can also be grown easily inside. Inside or out, you’ll need strong supports to keep the tomatoes off the ground to have maximum sun exposure and if outside, avoid pests.
You can’t go wrong with a hanging ‘bag’ planter like the Topsy Turvy from Clean Air Gardening (reg. $9.99) for easy care (no weeds and fewer pests!) and space savings. These can hang on a fence to create a vertical wall garden as well as provide privacy on decks and porches. Be careful not to keep in a shaded spot though as tomato plants require 6+ hours of sunlight each day. Some varieties are drought resistant but always keep the base of plants mulched to retain water. They make the perfect addition to those full sun, hot spots in your yard or patio where everything else dries up!