To really feel healthy and nourished, antioxidants are your best friends. These powerful compounds, found in certain plant foods such as colourful fruits and vegetables, fight against free radicals (unstable molecules that occur naturally in the human body and cause damage to cells). By battling these rouge chemicals, antioxidants can help prevent damage, reducing your risk of many diseases and health problems.
The best news is, it’s not difficult to fill your diet with these healthful compounds, and there are many colourful, antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies that you can easily grow yourself, either in pots or straight in the garden bed.
“By growing your own fresh produce, you can enjoy delicious food harvested at the peak ripeness,” says Belinda Thackeray, Horticulturalist at Eden Gardens. “To get started with warm seasonal veggies, choose a full sun position, enrich garden soil with organic matter like compost or manure, and select premium potting mix for pots.”
7 things to grow
Here are Belinda’s top suggestions for antioxidant-rich produce to grow in your garden:
1. Carrots. High in beta-carotenes (which are excellent for skin and eye health, as well as immunity), carrots can be grown large pots or straight in the ground. For something a bit fun, try growing rainbow carrots, which come in yellows, reds and purples.
2. Kale. Packed with folate, vitamins A, C and K, fibre and protein, it’s no wonder kale is having a moment in the sun. It’s a vigorous grower, with leaves that can be continuously harvested as needed. Just keep an eye out for caterpillars that often also enjoy the highly nutritious foliage!
3. Tomatoes. The staple of any summer veggie garden, tomatoes are high in beta carotene, lycopene and a host of vitamins, great for skin health and fighting free radicals to reduce your risk of disease. Like your tomatoes large and robust? Try growing Grosse Lisse or Oxheart tomatoes. For smaller fruit, try Grape or Sweet Bite tomatoes.
4. Blueberries. Antioxidant-rich evergreen blueberry hybrids are grown in pots and gardens, reaching 1m high. They prefer full sun, slightly acidic soil and fruit from late spring to summer. Once established, each bush will produce up to an amazing 4 kg of berries each season.
5. Strawberries. Strawberries thrive in sunny spots, in hanging baskets or planted on soil mounds in gardens. Start with reliable varieties like Sweetheart and Torrey and enjoy the summery sweetness, packed full of vitamins and antioxidants.
6. Coffee. Well, why not? Coffee trees grow to 5m tall in a sunny position. The green berries turn red when ripe, and after a fermenting, drying and roasting process produce antioxidant-rich coffee beans ready for drinking.
7. Tea. Tea is harvested from young leaf tips of established Camellia sinensis and can be used fresh as green tea, or dried and treated as black tea.
Get more growing tips at edengardens.com.au