Gardens - Fruit & Vegetable Gardening

Grow super foods

By
Judith Adam
Photography by
iStockphoto®

Grow nutrient-rich food plants to their full potential with this helpful guide.


Super foods are natural, whole foods that contain high levels of antioxidants, which neutralize free radicals, preventing cellular damage. They’re also an excellent source of minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese, chromium and zinc, and are naturally rich in vitamins.

Growing nutrient-rich food plants to their full potential is easy with a few practical considerations. Key to each plant’s ability to produce the greatest nutrient content is providing the best possible growing conditions. Locating plants in the most available sunlight and watering consistently through the entire growing season, right up to harvest, are essential for fully productive plants. Nutrients decline as fruits age, so harvesting when fruits are slightly less than mature ensures the best quality. To maintain soil moisture and lower heat stress in the root zone, place a blanket of organic mulch material (like leaves or shredded bark) over the plants’ root zone.

Growing carrots
Sun; plant in spring, harvest in midsummer to autumn, 45 to 75 days
Direct sow outdoors in early spring, three centimetres deep into soil amended with leaves and organic material (but no manure, since it makes carrots hairy). Provide regular irrigation, as drought causes stunted roots. Harvest carrots as needed, and dig up all carrots after the first hard frost. Look for ‘Adelaide’ baby carrots, ‘Nutri-Red’ and ‘Purple Haze’ colourful carrots.

Growing fresh herbs
Sun; plant in mid-spring, harvest continually from early summer to autumn
Grow in garden beds or containers, using soil that drains efficiently. Fertilize containers with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer (like 12-4-8). To keep plants producing tender new sprigs all summer, harvest leaves frequently and clip off flowers to prevent seeds from forming. Look for ‘Purple Ruffles’ basil, ‘Kaliteri’ oregano, English thyme and ‘Italian Giant’ plain-leaved parsley.

Growing garlic

Sun; plant cloves in mid-autumn, harvest in midsummer
Plant individual garlic cloves outdoors in well-drained soil. Harvest when foliage is half brown. Brush soil off bulbs and dry them indoors for two weeks, until the papery surface is thoroughly dry. Store in a cool, dark place. Look for ‘Music’ for bold flavour, German heirloom ‘Legacy’, hot and spicy ‘Bogatyr’ and mild ‘Siberian’.

Growing raspberries

Zone 3; sun; hardy canes produce berries in early or late summer
Purchase one-year-old canes from a nursery or seed catalogue. Plant raspberries 60 centimetres apart in well-drained soil. Provide T-bar or post supports strung with wire to anchor and stake the canes as they grow. Each cane fruits in the second year, and canes should be pruned out at ground level when they finish fruiting. Look for early red ‘Nova’, mid- season red ‘Latham’ and late yellow ‘Anne’.

Growing beans
Sun; plant in late spring, harvest snap beans twice weekly all summer and shell beans in late summer when pods are dry

To increase yields, use a legume inoculant purchased from a seed catalogue. Seeds won’t germinate at cool temperatures. Look for cold-tolerant ‘Igloo’ green bush bean, ‘Royal Burgundy’ purple bush bean, ‘Monte Gusto’ yellow pole bean, ‘Kenearly’ and European soldier dry shell beans for baking.

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