Monday, 29 June 2020

HARVEST SOME HEALTHY CROPS

                                          HARVEST SOME HEALTHY CROPS

Life under lockdown has been a new way to see modern day living with plenty time to look at what we are doing now compared to life before the pandemic. Folk living in flats without a garden or an allotment have my full sympathy. However those with gardens and allotments and plenty of time on their hands are seeing a new way to live.
Summer garden produce
As lockdown has closed so many restaurants, shops, and pubs and it has not been so easy to go out for a meal, or even get a takeaway. Junk food is harder to find and that is no a bad thing. Folk are now growing more of their own fruit and vegetables with their kids involved from seed sowing to planting then on to harvesting. Getting them to do a bit of
weeding is a harder task!!! The adults just love to see fresh fruit and vegetables harvested and ready to eat in the same day, and totally chemical free. Just a pity there may be a few small slugs on the lettuce and the odd greenfly hiding in the kale, and you soon learn how to find those wee maggots in the raspberries, and the odd caterpillar in the cauliflower.
Blueberries
We all have more time now to practise new cooking skills especially as plenty magazines have numerous recipes to try out. Folk are slowly
learning that a more healthy lifestyle has many benefits and as we grow our own food we get plenty exercise, and allotment life is quite sociable as we can still chatter from a distance over the garden fence. Plot holders today are from all over the world including China, Philippines, Japan so we learn how to grow exotic crops as well as our tried and tested potatoes, cabbages, peas and turnips. People are now looking at health benefits of fruit and vegetables as well as taste. Most plot holders have no problem getting their five fruits and vegetables a day, and many including myself are often on ten a day if you include a good salad. Some of my favourite foods with ample health benefits will include some of the following.
Spring rhubarb
Black fruits such as grapes, blackcurrants, chokeberry, blueberries and saskatoons are all high in vitamin C and antioxidants, especially the chokeberry, but as the fruit is a wee bit astringent it is best cooked in compote, sauces or in jams and also makes a very tasty and healthy red wine.
Rhubarb was for a long time the poor man’s fruit, but now it is being recognized as very healthy,
being high in anti-oxidants, and the minerals calcium and potassium. It is also very tasty in tarts, crumbles, and stewed. Nearly every allotment plot will have a clump of rhubarb.
Strawberries are high in fibre, vitamins C and K and the minerals manganese and potassium, and figs are similar but also have vitamin A and B and the minerals zinc and copper. Using a range of varieties and polythene tunnels to give an early crop I can enjoy strawberries from May till
October, though last year the wet weather rotted most of my late crop. Fingers crossed for this year.
Swiss chard
Beetroot and chard are very high in antioxidants, magnesium, sodium, potassium and vitamin C. The leaves and stems are rich in calcium, iron and the vitamins A and C. The juice of beetroots is used by athletes as a health drink and although traditionally we always pickled them, they can also be used in risotto, chutney, spiced beetroot, and my favourite beetroot soup.
Tomatoes contain vitamins A, C and E, some B vitamins and vitamin K, and this year I will enjoy the cherry tomato Sungold and the red cherry Super Sweet 100.
Peppers are very high in Vitamin C, vitamin A, and most of the vitamin B range, as well as the
minerals potassium, magnesium and iron, and if you can get used to some of the hotter varieties
research has indicated these have an amazing range of health benefits including a healthy heart, stomach, reduce migraines and joint pains, and help to prevent colds, flu and some allergies.

Wee jobs to do this week

Californian poppies
Tidy up herbaceous borders where early flowering bulbs (snowdrops, aconites, crocus daffodils and tulips) planted for an early display between drifts of plants have now finished and withered leaves can be removed. Oriental poppies and peonies have now also finished and dying leaves can be cut back. Any bare soil can be planted up with summer bedding plants such as geraniums or annuals such as Californian poppies, godetia, cornflower and Candytuft.

END

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