A perfectly ripe, juicy tomato, still warm from the sun. Sweet carrots, pulled from the garden minutes (or even seconds!) before they’re eaten. Growing your own vegetables is one of those activities that balance practicality and indulgence. Luckily, you don’t need to be a farmer (or even live near a farm) in order to reap the benefits of home-grown produce. If you have a sunny window (or two, or five) and a bit of extra time on your hands, then you’re capable of growing your own home gardens.

Carrots

home garderns - carrotsCarrots are at their sweetest, crunchiest best when freshly harvested from the garden. These icons of healthy eating deserve their “good-for-you” reputation — they’re very high in fiber, manganese, niacin, potassium, and vitamins A, B6, and C. Their only drawback is that they do tend to be high in sugar, so if you’re watching your carb intake, you’ll want to limit the amount of carrots you eat. They are very easy to grow and do not take up much space either.

Tomatoes

growing tomatoes at homeFresh, homegrown tomatoes are the reason many gardeners get into vegetable gardening in the first place. There’s just nothing that compares to eating a perfectly ripe tomato, still warm from the sun. Tomatoes are also incredibly good for us, packing plenty of fiber, iron, magnesium, niacin, potassium, and vitamins A, B6, and C. They’re also a great source of the antioxidant lycopene. Tomatoes grown indoors will not grow to be as large as outdoor tomatoes, but they’ll still be full of tomato taste. When the fruits are red and firm, but with a slight “give” to the touch, they’re ready to eat.

Lemons

growing lemons at homeA great super food, lemons are packed with vitamin C and antioxidants, which could help decrease heart disease risk, reduce inflammation, and fight some cancers. It is one of those plants which is very beneficial to us in different ways. If you want the option of harvesting fruits right away, purchase a two-to-three-year-old dwarf tree at a nursery. Citrus plants need regular watering, but they should not be over-saturated, as it causes more harm than good.

Peas

growing peas at home gardensThere is nothing like peas grown right in your own garden — the tender sweetness of a snap pea just plucked from the vine is unlike anything you can buy in at a store. Aside from being absolutely delicious, peas are high in fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins A, B6, and C. The one thing to watch out for is hot weather as pea production pretty much shuts down when it’s hot.

Beets

home gardensBeets are a great “two-fer” crop — you can harvest the beet roots, of course, but you can also harvest and eat the greens. Young beet greens are delicious when added raw to a salad, and larger beet greens can be used as a quick side dish or used the way you’d use other greens such as spinach. Beet roots are very high in iron, potassium, and vitamin C. Beet greens are even better, as they are high in iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and vitamins A, B6, and C. The trick to get the best beets is to know when to harvest them. They are best when harvested small as they are tender and sweet.

Mushrooms

mushroom farming at homeMushrooms aren’t just flavorful; they’re also a good source of fiber and vitamin C as well as antioxidants and cancer-fighting compounds. They are very healthy foods and considered quite a delicacy. The easiest way to grow mushrooms indoors is to purchase a kit or to grow them in a laundry basket.

Mandarin Oranges

growing oranges at home These sweet little fruits are a decent source of antioxidants, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and fiber. They pack quite a punch given their small size. They make a really tasty snack and also work as good interior designing. Purchase dwarf mandarin orange trees for the best chance of growing fruits successfully indoors. Mandarins need to be harvested as soon as they turn orange in order to preserve their flavor.

Leaf Amaranth

Leaf Amaranth at homeLeaf amaranth is a less-common vegetable that is well worth a try in your own garden. The leaves have a sweet and slightly tangy flavor that works well in a variety of dishes, from stir-fries and soups to simply steaming it all by itself. As a bonus, leaf amaranth is one of the few heat-tolerant greens. It won’t bolt in the heat of summer the way spinach and kale are prone to. Nutritionally, leaf amaranth is very high in calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, riboflavin, zinc, and vitamins A, B6, and C. Everyone should be growing this!!!

Red Bell Peppers

Red Bell Peppers at homeRed bell peppers are high in potassium, riboflavin, and vitamins A, B6, and C — in fact, one cup of red bell pepper packs an amazing 317 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C and 93 percent of the recommended vitamin A. It is a very lucrative plant in terms of the benefits that it provides us with!! As long as one protects it from insect pests like aphids and fleas it will continue to bloom and bear fruit.

Leafy greens

green leaves at home gardensOK, I cheated here. I can’t recommend just one leafy green, because they are all incredibly good for us, as well as delicious — kale, collards, spinach, turnip or dandelion greens — how can you possibly choose just one? In general, the “green leafs” contain high amounts of calcium, iron, potassium, and vitamins A, B6 and C. Heat and cabbage worms are the two things to watch out for. Keeping them aside, the plants will reward you with their lush and tasty foliage.

Try growing one or two (or all!) of these nutrient-dense, delicious vegetables in your own garden, and you’ll get double the health benefits: healthy food and time spent outdoors, nurturing your plants. Get planting!!!

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