Growing superfoods

Growing superfoods
    One current gardening trend for which there is a great deal of enthusiasm is growing superfoods, which links into modern trends for healthy living.

These fruits and vegetables can be used in a range of dishes, including  salads, soups and juices. They are especially rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

As the Royal Horticultural Society recently pointed out, they are often very easy to grow, so they would make a good addition to any garden.

While it's now too late in the year to consider planting some of these, as most of us will be thinking about preparing the garden for winter, a few varieties can be sown in autumn. Plus, it could be worth considering cultivating them next year – why not start planning next year's jobs early to give yourself a headstart?

Red beetroot is a crop that grows speedily, especially if F1 hybrids, 'Action' or 'Boston' for example, are chosen.

It is possible to obtain mini-roots from an August sowing in the south of the country – they often go on growing until really cold weather starts in November.

If recent conditions are anything to go by – the weather has been unusually mild so far this autumn – now could be a good year for it. Normally, however, it should be sown at any time between February and July. Leaf beet and chard are also easy to grow and can be done so in the same way.

Broccoli can be planted between May and August or sown between February and July. It is a more difficult plant to grow, however, as it won't be ready to transplant until mid-August.

Kale is another superfood that can be grown in British gardens. It grows fairly slowly but if you sow it in July in the south, it will be ready to grow by winter.

The plant can also be grown as a mini-leaf with sowings every three weeks until September or until October in a greenhouse. 

Asparagus is another highly prized vegetable, sometimes classed as a superfood, that can be cultivated in British gardens. It can be grown in most types of soil, although you should make sure it is well-drained, with a pH of 6.5 – 7.5.

You should not harvest asparagus until the second year after planting. Use a knife to cut individual spears 2.5cm (1in) below the soil when they are no more than 18cm (7in) tall.

As Popeye was well aware, spinach is a highly nutritious vegetable and is also very versatile (though perhaps less so in his favoured canned form). It can be sown anytime between February and September. Plant in rich soil with plenty of organic matter, make sure you keep the plants well watered during summer and provide adequate protection for winter cultivars.

Summer cultivars should be picked between late May and the end of October. Once the leaves are large enough to pick, they can be harvested continually.

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