Written by Sharon Charles BSc Nutrition (Candidate)
Reviewed by Andrea Miller MHSc, RD
Gardening is a great hobby for many reasons. It is a time to reconnect with nature and yourself, allows you to get some fresh air and it provides an opportunity for light physical activity. The best benefit of all is that you can enjoy your own organic produce! Being able to enjoy the food you grow can give you a sense of achievement. I get a great sense of accomplishment when I get to enjoy a fresh kale salad straight from my garden.
It wasn’t until I built my confidence with easy vegetables to grow, did I venture out into more challenging growing projects. When it is time to choose which vegetables and fruits to grow, I always plan to plant these basic four.
Kale is hands-down my favorite vegetable to grow. Ever since I started growing my own kale, never have I gone to the grocery store for it.
If you have never tried fresh kale plucked straight from the garden, you are missing out on the maximum flavor kale has to offer. Fresh kale is juicy, crisp, and has a strong earthy flavor. One plant can provide many meals over the course of a few months since you can simply tear off leaves from the outside in as they grow. There are also many varieties of kale offering different textures, flavors and vibrant colors, so be sure to experiment! Kale is so simple to grow at home that you will regret not having planted it sooner!
- Herbs (Basil, Parsley, Cilantro, Dill)
The best feeling is being able to walk out to your garden and return with fresh ingredients. In general, herbs are easy to grow if they germinate properly (see the directions on your seed packet for optimal conditions for growth).
All you need to grow your herbs is a sturdy pot and regular watering. Depending on the type of herb, you can grow some herbs together if you are limited on space. Herbs can also be kept indoors (parsley and mint, for example) allowing you to enjoy them throughout the cold winter months.
If there is one thing you must plant in your garden, it should be tomatoes! Tomatoes are a staple food item in my fridge as I use them to make sauces, slice them and add it to my sandwiches, and in a variety of dishes as an ingredient.
With a little bit of water every other day and lots of sunshine, you can enjoy tomatoes right from its first fruit to the end of October. The good thing about tomatoes is that you can plant them early and they will survive the unpredictable weather if it does get a little chilly afterwards. Once tomatoes start to grow on the plant, be sure to pluck them right when they are ripe, and you will get a continuous supply throughout the summer. Usually, I get an overflowing amount of tomatoes and either freeze them for use during the winter or gift fresh tomatoes to my family, friends and neighbors.
The two varieties I personally find easiest to maintain are cherry tomatoes and beef steak tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes are great since they can be grilled, enjoyed fresh in salads, or added to meals. Beefsteak tomatoes are perfect for the summer since there’s nothing like a juicy slice of fresh tomato in a burger!
In general, most types of beans are easy to grow and are very beginner friendly. They can be placed either in the soil in a garden bed or in a pot. Taking care of beans is easy since they are low maintenance once they reach their full growth.
Experiment, enjoy and re-connect with food, this summer, by planting some vegetables and herbs in your garden.