Tuesday, 18 April 2017



Anna picking fresh rhubarb
Hindsight is a brilliant factor. Today I feel I live a healthy lifestyle and because of my interest in gardening it keeps me active and the fresh produce gives me my at least five but most often a lot more different fruit and vegetables daily. Looking back into the teenage years I couldn’t wait to leave school to earn a wage. I needed money not education, and I needed an outdoor life in the sun. Just could not be happy in an office or factory so I chose gardening. It is here I was taught how to grow a wide range of fruit and vegetables and how to use them. However quite soon I realised I did need education if I wanted to climb the horticultural ladder. This resulted in a career that took me all over UK, dabbling in fruit production, forestry, landscaping, education, and plant propagation. In the early years money is tight so you need an allotment to grow food trying to cover the whole twelve months with self sufficiency. A very hard task but is made easier today with the use of fridges and freezers. Gone are the days when I needed to make 110 jars of jam (two jars per week) during the berry season to be stored in a cool shed over the next twelve months. In the younger years life was very active with the normal diet of sausages, beef burgers, mince and chips from the deep fat fryer with everything, but we burnt off any excess by an active life. One day in my early
thirties after a large helping of sausages full of gristle, I felt ill and vowed, no more crap, so sausages went out and the deep fat fryer got binned. From now on it was to be healthy foods only, though an occasional wee relapse at Christmas, and my two lassies needed help to get through their Easter eggs. Next on the list was sugar, so it was tea and coffee without sugar and nae mare honey in my porridge. Now that was a hardship!!! But we survive and prosper.
I now look into which foods give you the most benefits, and research gives very interesting reading. Green vegetables, roots and salads are now normal daily crops grown on the allotment, but it is the fruits that give you that extra boost. My healthy fruits include chokeberries, blackcurrants, saskatoons, blueberries, brambles, cherries, figs, rhubarb and black grapes.
The dark colour of these berries is caused by the very high levels of anthocyanin, an antioxidant. The fruits are also packed with dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals. Antioxidants prevent free radicals from damaging cell components. These plus the other vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre  assist the fight against heart disease, cancer, diabetes, alzheimer’s disease, reduce the absorption of high cholesterol, and can delay macular degeneration.
Pumpkin Hundredweight
Pumpkins, tomatoes and peppers are three fruits we treat as vegetables, but all three score very highly in providing great health benefits, and although seasonal crops, they can be stored for future use. My pumpkins usually store till early April, but then surplus gets frozen.
Chokeberries are not very common at the moment but they produce one of the healthiest fruits on the planet, with very high levels of anthocyanin an antioxidant(1480 mgs per 100gms) high levels of dietary fibre, plus vitamins A, C and E and the minerals potassium, iron and manganese.
However chokeberries are too astringent to eat in any quantity straight off the bush but can be juiced, cooked, added to compote, yoghurts and makes a delicious jam and a healthy wine.
Blackcurrant Ben Findlay
Blackcurrants, red and whitecurrants may only have half the level of anthocyanin, but at over 700 mg per 100gms they are still very high. They are also high in vitamins, dietary fibre and minerals similar to chokeberries plus calcium and zinc.
Saskatoons are also very high in anthocyanin (562mgs per 100gms) plus high levels of dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals. The berries can be eaten fresh, and frozen for future use in compote, summer puddings, juices, wines, added to cereals, yoghurts and cooked in cakes, oaties and jams.
John picking kale shoots
Blueberries, Brambles and Black grapes, similar to the above (blueberries have 386mgs per 100gms anthocyanin.) However they will allow you to extend the season of use for fresh healthy fruit from summer till winter. Black outdoor grape Brant has pips in the berries, but now we find that these seeds are packed with goodness. So instead of discarding these pips as a nuisance, give them a wee crunch and swallow them. They are anti allergenic, antihistamine and anti inflammatory. They strengthen blood vessels, aid circulation and improve skin elasticity.

Wee jobs to do this week

If old brassica plants (cabbage, cauliflower and kale) have been harvested but not yet been dug out leave them till young flowering shoots appear, usually with soft fresh leaves, then use these as a spring vegetable just perfect stir fried with a light oil dressing, or they can be steamed for a few minutes adding some ginger, garlic and seasoning.


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