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You’re more likely to get your five-plus servings a day of fruits and vegetables if you garden — because who isn’t inspired to eat the beautiful produce you worked so hard to grow?
If you have a family, there’s an even better reason to garden, as studies suggest that kids who garden tend to eat more veggies — even in college. So don’t be intimidated to turn over some ground to start a garden: These six healthy vegetables are easy to grow (and delicious, to boot!). No room for a garden? You can grow tomatoes and peppers in containers, and many types of greens or sprouts will grow on a windowsill.
Green beans are loaded with heart-protecting antioxidants — even more than their cousins in the pea and bean family. Check your seed packet carefully; you may prefer to grow petite bush beans, which are lower to the ground and more contained, rather than climbers like pole beans, which will require some kind of support to grow on as they mature.
Most leafy greens are nutrition standouts — but based on a ranking of nutrients per calorie, watercress and spinach are among the best — even beating out kale in terms of nutrition! Watercress is slightly trickier to grow; you’ll need access to a stream or other source of clean running water, as watercress likes to have its feet wet — but spinach is an easy grower that will be boosting your salads in just a few weeks.
Packed with vitamins A and C, plus cancer-fighting lycopene, tomatoes are even better for you after being cooked. (Heat increases the antioxidant content.) Grow your own in a sunny area with plenty of space; certain varieties will expand as much as you’ll let them — but you can also grow tomatoes in a good-sized container, or look into varieties that will grow from the top down via a hanging basket.
Make your own probiotics: Brine pickling-size cucumbers in water and salt (vinegar kills the healthy bacteria). You’ll also get a good dose of vitamin K from these easy-to-grow vegetables. Just remember that cukes need plenty of room to spread their vines — and that you probably only need to plant a couple, as they’re very prolific once you get them started.
Stop and eat the flowers! Zucchini blossoms have vitamin C, while the squash itself has potassium and fiber (much of which is in the skin). Zucchini is deliciously grilled, in soups, lightly sauteed, or in zucchini bread.
Every bite gives you vitamin C, beta carotene, and other healthy carotenoids. The longer peppers ripen (on the vine or on your counter), the higher the levels of vitamin C — so let your peppers ripen fully before picking them.