This is the time of year you start getting seed catalogs in the mail. As you start to plan ahead for the spring, Here are five of my personal favorite garden varieties to grow. I’ve chosen these for their great nutrition, easiness to grow, and as you’ll see – because I can get the kids to eat them!
Broccoli: This is often called the ‘super vegetable’. Especially high in vitamin C, but also the B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. And yes, I am partial to the common Di Cissio variety for the home garden because you can get more than one cutting with the side shoots. Easy to grow. A general tip on getting kids to eat vegetables, and especially broccoli – smother it with a cheese sauce. Throw in some bacon bits if you want to make it completely irresistible.
Peas: Sugar snap peas are like candy. I like both the Oregon and Mammoth Melting Sugar varieties. Peas are rich in vitamin C, but also vitamin K and manganese. The best reason of all to grow these is my kids treat my yard like a snack bar when the peas are growing! I’ve almost had to break up fights over who gets the peas – one of the few arguments I loved.
Leafy greens: OK, I couldn’t decide which is better – kale, spinach, lettuce, chard… I love the Lacinto kale and American spinach varieties. And who can’t pass up good ole Romaine lettuce? Spinach, of course is rich in iron and has been called “the women’s vegetable” as women usually need more iron than men.
Lima Beans; ‘King of the Pole’ Lima Beans are easy to grow and for home gardeners where space can be at a premium, I love the pole beans that can go up, and produce lots of beans with little ground space. Lima’s are very rich in molybdenum, tryptophan, dietary fiber and manganese. Love that buttery taste too. Beans are an awesome staple.
Beets; Gosh, I love this nutritious multi purpose plant. I like to grow the Detroit Red variety. You can eat both the root and the greens. The beet root is high in iron, potassium, and vitamin C. The beet greens are high in iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and Vitamins A, B6, and C. The thing I love about beet roots are its easy to get kids to eat them – even surly teenagers. The secret? Tell them their pee will turn red and they will gobble it up to see.
And I can’t help myself with throwing in this last bonus plant.
Moringa: This is actually a tree native to the the tropics or semi-tropics, and to effectively grow it you need to keep it indoors during the winter. Its a perennial and easy to grow, aside from needing to be kept warm. Every part of the tree is edible, medicinal, or useful. The leaves are very rich in a diverse variety of nutrients – it is almost like a vegetable multivitamin. I add a teaspoon of dried moringa leaf power into almost every soup or sauce to boost the overall nutrition for my family. Moringa oleifera is the variety I grow.
Marjory Wildcraft is an Expedition Leader and Bioneer Blogger with The [Grow] Network, which is an online community that recognizes the wisdom of “homegrown food on every table.” Marjory has been featured as an expert on sustainable living by National Geographic, she is a speaker at Mother Earth News fairs, and is a returning guest on Coast to Coast AM. She is an author of several books, but is best known for her “Grow Your Own Groceries” video series, which is used by more than 300,000 homesteaders, survivalists, universities, and missionary organizations around the world.