May - Get Set... Grow!

Being creative brings with it many benefits, and gardening is the perfect pastime to produce wonderful floral displays and relaxing outdoor spaces, with opportunities to nurture crops and watch plants grow to perfection.

Gardening is a rewarding outlet for individual creativity, connecting us to plants, the soil and surroundings, and health experts now agree that these are all beneficial to our health and wellbeing. Whether you’re creating summer patio displays, sowing crops on the veg plot or allotment, or planting a cutting garden to produce beautiful flowers to pick and bring indoors, there are plenty of exciting projects to start this month.

Now’s a great time to sow and plant flowers, veg, salads, fruits and herbs to enjoy over the months ahead. Gardening outside in the fresh air is a good way to get some gentle exercise while nurturing crops and patio displays to perfection. By growing your own you’ll pick the freshest, healthiest, nutrient-rich produce possible …. from plot to plate in minutes!

While ‘5 a day’ has become has become a mantra for many, experts at Imperial College London say most people still aren’t eating enough fruit and veg, and should be eating more. Fruits and vegetables provide a rich variety of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fibre. These help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer, boosting the immune system, reducing cholesterol levels and blood pressure, plus many other health benefits too.

One of your ‘5 a day’ is defined as an 80g (3oz) portion, and the most beneficial crops to grow at home include apples and pears, salads and green veg like spinach and lettuce, yellow sweet peppers, and cruciferous crops including cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.

For a healthy balanced diet, aim for a rainbow of colours on your plate too – both raw and cooked – as different coloured fruits and crops contain varying beneficial ingredients. For instance, it’s anthocyanins that give beetroot, blackberries, red cabbage and purple and blue crops their colour, while the distinctive orange/yellow colour of carrots, peppers and squash comes from carotinoids, used in our body to form Vitamin A.

Gardening and growing your fruit, herbs, crops and cut flowers are beneficial to health and wellbeing in many ways. It’s rewarding and productive, provides exercise, and helps feed the family with freshly picked homegrown, organically grown produce – the perfect way to keep you healthy and save money too!

Eat the rainbow with colourful crops

For flavour and freshness grow a rainbow of colourful and nutritious fruit, veg and salads in your kitchen garden.

RED: Tomatoes, red onions, rhubarb chard, sweet peppers, chillis, strawberries, rhubarb.
ORANGE: Carrots, squash, pumpkin.
YELLOW: Golden courgettes and tomatoes, sweetcorn, yellow beans and sweet peppers.
GREEN: Asparagus, spinach, peas, beans, mangetout, rocket, lettuce and salad leaves, kale, romanesco, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cucumber, pak choi.
BLUE: Blueberries.
PURPLE: Beetroot, broccoli, aubergine, purple beans, purple asparagus, red cabbage, radish, kohl rabi, plums
WHITE: Cauliflower, celery, leeks, onions, garlic, shallots, spring onions, potatoes, parsnips, celeriac, turnip.