Cancer sucks, right? Many of us are actively involved in supporting survivors, healing, fighting or researching cancer; and while many strides have been made, the fight against cancer remains an ongoing battle that we are all participating in.
Many researches believe there is a link between your diet and various forms cancer. It's clear that increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables has health benefits. They provide the nutrients you need to live a full, balanced life.
But there's a problem.
Store bought produce is often treated with chemicals that de-value the health benefits of those foods. There's a lack of trust when it comes to where your food is coming from. One way to ensure the super foods you want to incorporate into your diet is to grow them yourself. Not only do you get chemical free superfoods, but even the minimal work associated with gardening adds to the overall health benefits. Studies have shown gardening makes people happier and healthier!
And hey, we're plant people, not doctors. We can only tell you from experience, it just feels really good to go outside, dig in the dirt, breath the fresh air and grow your own vegetables.
Let's take a look at which superfoods you can grow, right in your own backyard.
In Illinois, spinach is a cold weather veggie, which means you get a double dose of this nutrient packed leafy green. It can be planted and harvested in the spring and fall. Spinach is available in March and April for spring planting then again in September and October.
Why you should grow spinach:
Spinich is not only tasty, it's packed with anti-oxidents and Vitamin A. It also contains Vitamin K which prevents bone loss and and nice dose of protein. Spinach is frequently listed as one of the Top foods that may help prevent cancer.
Tomatoes can be started from seed or planted as seedlings. Try planting an assortment of tomato varieties, it's part of the fun. Choose a fun heirloom, an extra large beefsteak variety for slicing and don't forget at least one bite sized option. Around here, tomatoes need to be protected from the cold, we recommend planting them outdoors after May 15th.
Why you should grow tomatoes:
Tomatoes are on the of the most popular super foods because they contain lycopene, an antioxident that prevents heart disease. Tomatoes are also a great source of vitamins A, C, and E. This is also a family and kid-friendly vegetable. They can even be grown in a pot. Encourage your kids to get involved; it's a great way to get them to eat their veggies.
Garlic & Onions
They're both a little stinky but they taste so good. These flavor boosters do more than add some punch to your plate. They're so good for you! These plants are also easy to grow. We recommend starting onions in early spring, and Garlic in spring or fall.
Why you should grow garlic and onions:
Garlic has been used for medicinal and health purposes for hundreds of years and it's health values are well-documented. It's thought that garlic can help reduce cholesteral, improve blood circulation and fight against cancer. Onions come from the same family, Allium, and serve up many of the same health benefits.
We will be carrying Montmorency cherry trees at our garden center this year. When compared to sweet cherries, tart cherries (aka sour or pie cherries) are hardier and easier to grow in Illinois. They also have more health benefits and are self fertile (they do not require a second tree for pollination). For more information on growing your own orchard and the cross pollination of cherry trees, click here.
Why you should grow Sour Cherries:
These bright red fruits pack a whollop of health benefits. They can help improve brain function, repair your muscles and even help you sleep better.
Cilantro & Parsley
Herbs have been a mainstay of holistic healers for years for good reason. Cilantro and Parsley are two of the most widely used. Both of these herbs are available at our garden center as ready-to-harvest plants or seed. Herbs are easy to incorporate into your landscape. Mix them into your existing planting beds, plant them as companions in your vegetable garden or create a potted herb garden.
Why you should grow Cilatro & Parsley:
Cilanto & Parsley are dense in phytonutrients and flavonoid, along with Vitamins A, C and E. They are also high-fiber additions to your cooking that aid digestion.
These delicious spheres of goodness are grown in the spring and fall, and can be harvested as late as November, which is why you see them as a popular Thanksgiving vegetable. Or visit our garden center this spring and you can get them in the ground as early as mid-to-late march for a summer harvest.
Why you should grow Brussels Sprouts:
Brussels Sprouts are one of the highest ranked greens for their Glucosinolates levels. And Glucosinolates are starting point for cancer prevention in our bodies. They are also really high in fiber and have been shown to lower cholesterol.
Peppermint is another herb that can easily be grown in your garden or in a pot. Peppermint is a summer herb and often used in teas, baking, and cocktails.
Why you should grow Peppermint:
Peppermint is known for helping aching bellies, and reducing stress and even pain management.
What's not to like about Broc? This yummy plant can be your standard vegetable or used as a super concentrated nutritional garnish by harvesting it as a sprout or micro-green. This is another cold-tolerant vegetable and can be planted as early as Mid-march some years.
Why you should grow Broccoli:
Broccoli is well-known as one of the healthiest vegetables you can add to your diet. It's numerous vitamins and minerals to help fight cancer, build strong bones, and lower cholesterol.
Growing blueberies can take some work in our area but once established these little fruits offer a variety of health benefits to your family. Plus, they taste delicious and can be eaten raw or easily incorporated into baked goods and desserts. Visit our garden center to choose the variety that is best for you and your planting and soil conditions. Our selection of blueberry plants includes the Brazzelberry Jelly Bean which can be grown in a container!
Why you should grow Blueberries:
Blueberries are packed with antioxidents and offer a big helping of nutritional value, including high values of Vitamin C and potassium.
Aronia (aka Chokeberry)
This is the HOT new superberry and the great news is that is super hardy and easy to grow. It features beautiful blooms and amazing fall color.
Why you should grow Aronia:
Aronia has been shown to have the highest concentration of antioxidents compared to other fruit. These little berries bring a lot of band for the buck. And they're not only good for you, the plants are beautiful too. This landscape shrub will add beauty to your home and provide health benefits for your family. Read up on recipe ideas for these superfood berries here.
Tropical hibisucs are one of the most stunning blooms you can imagine. And they're not only pretty, they are also good for you!
Why you should grow Hibiscus:
Hibiscus flowers have a citrusy punch adding color and flavor to teas and cocktails. The citrusy flavor is due to its high levels of vitamin C. Add fresh petals to a tropical fruit salad, or dry the flowers for teas and drinks.
It's been proven that gardening is a wonderful to stay healthy and lower stress. And if you start growing superfoods in your own garden, you're doing even more good for your body. At our garden center, we know edibles inside and out and can help even the newest gardener get started. For more information on super foods, click here.
In the meantime, spring is almost upon us and our garden center, in Cary, IL is stocked with many of the cold weather veggies you can plant right now. Come by and take a look.