Growing a nutritional garden

Top 10 plants that pack a vitamin and mineral punch
By L.A. Jackson
Growing a nutritional garden

What will you be growing in your vegetable garden this year? Going with veggies you like is logically the first consideration, but one more factor to think about is nutrition. If you want plants with plenty of vitamin and mineral punch, if you want to get maximum nutrition from your backyard garden, plant any of the following 10 truly nutritious vegetables:

Asparagus

It normally takes asparagus two to three years to mature in the garden, but the long wait will be worth it because this delicious edible is loaded with vitamins A, C, E and K, along with manganese, copper, selenium, iron and potassium. This veggie is best planted between the beginning of the year and mid-March.

Broccoli

This vegetable can be grown in early spring or late summer, and it is a powerhouse of nutrients loaded with potassium, calcium, manganese and iron as well as an alphabet of vitamins A, B, C, E and K.

Brussels Sprouts

A veggie that is best started in midsummer and grown as a fall crop in this region. When properly prepared, they are quite tasty, and rich in vitamins A and C, iron, potassium and manganese.

Cabbage

Who needs milk if they eat their cabbage? This leafy vegetable is an excellent source of vitamin C as well as potassium, iron, phosphorus and manganese. Keep in mind that smaller, darker green heads have more nutrients than large, tight cabbage heads. Start plants in March for a spring crop, and then replant in August for a fall harvest.

Carrots

Bugs Bunny's favorite veggie is brimming with vitamins B6 and C, potassium, manganese and beta-carotene. Late February into early March is the prime time to sow seeds for a spring crop, and then double the nutritional pleasure by having seeds ready to go in the ground in mid-July for an autumn bed of carrots.

Greens

This catch-all category includes cool-season edibles such as kale, mustard, spinach and turnip greens, and all of them are super sources for vitamins A and C, iron and calcium. Plant them in March for a spring harvest and then reload the garden again in August to keep the greens coming though the fall frosts.

Peas

Both English and edible pod peas run the gamut of good nutrition by being loaded with vitamins A, C and K, and the minerals manganese, phosphorus, copper and iron. Anytime between the beginning of the year until the first week of March is when you should plant these nutritious nuggets.

Bell Peppers

These peppers have large amounts of vitamins C and K as well as potassium and manganese, and as an added bonus, if you can wait for your green peppers to turn a mature red, the vitamin A content will really jump. It is best to plant these heat-seekers in late April.

Tomatoes

They are a terrific source for vitamins A, B6, C, E and K. Ditto for potassium, phosphorus, copper and manganese. Also, remember that, in general, the deeper the red of the variety, the higher the vitamin content of the fruit. Like peppers, tomatoes are sun-worshipers, so wait until late April to set seeds or plants in the garden.

Winter Squash

The hard-shelled, yellow varieties come loaded with calcium, magnesium, potassium and manganese, as well as vitamins A, E, B2 and C. And don't let the name fool you — like summer squash, winter squash can be planted after the ground warms up in late April.

About the Author

L.A. Jackson is the former editor of Carolina Gardener Magazine. If you would like to ask him a question about your garden, contact L.A. at: lajackson1@gmail.com

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