Healthy Gardening

Create Your Own Gourmet Garden

  • Get Started in Any Space

    Transform your garden into a productive patch brimming with fresh, seasonal food. It’s healthy, cost-effective, and easy. Even the tiniest plot is enough to get started. Whether you prefer packing fresh salad greens and tasty strawberries in pots, or growing sun-loving chili peppers and tomatoes on a windowsill, there’s something for everyone.

    Read our top picks, and start sowing your seeds. You’ll be harvesting your homegrown food in no time.

  • Lettuce

    There’s nothing quite like picking the first crisp leaves of spring lettuce. Not only do they add texture and flavor to salad dishes, many lettuce greens are packed with nutrients such as vitamin C, potassium, and fiber.

    This cool season crop is easy to grow: it tolerates shade and requires little space. Sow seeds directly in the ground in early spring, and keep emerging plants well watered.

    Top tip: If you don’t have a lot of space, try growing lettuce in pots. Their shallow roots allow them to thrive in containers.

  • Onions

    Onions are a must in any garden, regardless of size. Not only are they sweet and juicy, they offer numerous health benefits.

    Garden onions are tough plants that need very little care. Plant onion sets in a shallow trench in well-drained soil, and harvest as soon as the foliage turns yellow. Store dried bulbs in a cool, dry place, and you’ll have a fresh supply of onions all year round.

    Top tip: Use onions as a companion plant. Their strong smell wards off unwanted pests. Plant them next to carrots to discourage the dreaded carrot fly.

  • Strawberries

    There’s not a whole lot that can beat handpicked, delicious, ripe strawberries straight from your patch. They taste divine, and they’re jam-packed with vitamin C and antioxidants.

    Strawberries are easy to grow and produce some of the earliest fruits of the season. Give them a sunny spot with fertile soil and you’ll be picking plenty of berries in no time.

    Top tip: To give your plants the best possible start, add compost or well-rotted manure to the planting site.

  • Carrots

    Homegrown carrots are sweeter and tastier than any store-bought variety. Loaded with beta-carotene, fiber, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and K, it’s no surprise that this root vegetable ranks high for its health benefits. Another easy crop to grow, carrots are undemanding and quick to deliver. Seeds can be sown directly in the ground in early spring in light, fertile soil. If you sow little and often, you’ll have a continuous crop from late spring through to winter.

    Top tip: As your seedlings begin to grow, thin them out a little. Plants should be given about three inches to grow on either side to ensure a good-sized carrot.

  • Tomatoes

    If there’s a spare sunny spot in your garden, plant a tomato. There are thousands of varieties to choose from, and favorites like plum, cherry, and beefsteak offer a range of delicious flavors for every palate. There are tomatoes suited to growing indoors and outdoors, and some do better planted in containers. No matter which variety you choose, all tomatoes need lots of sunshine, fertile soil, and plenty of water to produce tasty fruits.

    Top tip: Unless you’re growing bush tomatoes, it’s important to create a single-stemmed plant to encourage more fruit. Snap outside shoots as they appear, and when your plant has produced five flowering trusses, pinch out the top-growing tip.

  • Beets

    Freshly picked beets are tender and full of juicy, delicious flavor. They’re good for you, too. Crammed with calcium, iron, potassium, fiber, and vitamins A and C, beets have been praised for their natural ability to ease digestion, improve circulation, and combat iron deficiency.

    Seeds can be sown directly in the ground in late spring, and other than a bit of sunshine and some moist soil, beetroots tend to look after themselves.

    Top tip: Depending on variety, beets are ready to be picked when the roots are between the size of a golf ball and a tennis ball.

  • Zucchini

    Rather than conforming to nice little rows in the veg patch, zucchinis are fairly large plants that need a wide-open space and lots of sunshine.

    In cooler climates, start seeds off indoors on a sunny windowsill before planting outside in late spring. Be sure to give growing plants plenty of water, and within weeks you’ll be picking your first zucchini.

    Top tip: Don’t let them get too big. Zucchinis should be harvested when they’re small (about 6 inches long) and at their most nutritious and tastiest.

  • Chili Peppers

    Chili peppers will be sure to add exotic flavors and vibrant colors to your kitchen garden. To grow your own, buy small plants or sow seeds indoors about 10 weeks before the last frost. Set chili plants out in a sun-filled, sheltered spot once the weather and soil become warm. When cared for well, they’ll fruit for several months during late summer and early fall.

    Top tip: Chili peppers thrive in pots. Stick some plants in a container on a patio, or in a window box on a sunny ledge. 

  • Broccoli

    Crammed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as antioxidants, broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables you can grow. Adding height and texture, they look great in the garden and are tasty too. Like most members of the cabbage family, broccoli requires firm ground and free-draining soil. They prefer dappled shade and a decent amount of growing space.

    Top tip: Timing is important. Harvest when the flower shoots are developed, but before the small flower buds have opened. Once broccoli flowers, the shoots lose their taste.

  • Spinach

    These leafy greens are easy to grow, delicious, and full of healthy goodness. Rich in vitamins A, B, and C, as well as iron, calcium, and loads of antioxidants, spinach is a powerhouse when it comes to health. For a summer crop, sow seeds in a sunny spot in early spring in nutrient-rich, free-draining soil. For a continuous supply, try sowing a new row of seeds every few weeks.

    Top tip: Harvest leaves from the outside of the plant. By picking often, new leaves will grow.

  • Getting Started

    Now that you have a better idea of what you want to grow, it’s time to get your hands dirty, literally.

    You might want to consider using sustainable gardening practices to ensure your growing space is the most eco-friendly it can be.

    Even if your available gardening space is limited to a windowsill or patio, there are many options when you design your small garden. If you have no space at all, you might want to consider using space at a community garden, or possibly starting one with your neighbors.

    Top tip: Visit Healthline’s Healthy Gardening Learning Center.

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