Eat More Fruits and Veggies This Month by Growing Your Own!

Oh, September! This is one of my favorite months because this is when fall gardening starts up in Houston. Us gardeners typically step back a bit in August due to the heat and bustle of summer growing coming to a close, so September welcomes in a fresh look at the new season. 

September also happens to be National Fruits and Veggies Month! And what better way to celebrate than committing to growing some of your own fruits and veggies this year. Let me take you through some of my favorites to plan on for the upcoming months!

Why should I eat so many fruits and veggies?

Eat More Fruits and Veggies This Month by Growing Your Own!Increasing the consumption of plants in your diet has numerous benefits! There are so many vitamins and minerals in fruits and vegetables that your body needs that cannot be found elsewhere. For instance, carrots and sweet potatoes are packed with Vitamin A, which is essential for correct function of your vision and immune function. You will barely find this vitamin in anything animal-related.

It has been proven over and over that increasing plants in your diet can prevent numerous diseases, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and cancer. There is also a strong correlation that increased consumption of fruits and vegetables may help prevent weight gain and thusly diabetes, as well as dementia, lung problems like COPD, rheumatoid arthritis and certain eye diseases.

The more plants you can eat in your diet, the better! Try to consume the majority of your calories or more from fruits and vegetables. If you want to read more about plants in your diet, this handout is one of the best I have ever seen in providing extensive information and recommendations.

Plant your own fruits and veggies at home!

A sure-fire way to get you and your family to eat more fruits and veggies is to grow your own at home! It can be a great way to save money, make sure your food is clean and healthy, and to spend time with your kids outside. Here are some of my faves to get started the next few months.

Eat More Fruits and Veggies This Month by Growing Your Own!
My 3 year old daughter helping in the garden.

Lettuce

Lettuces are probably one of my favorite things to grow. They are ridiculously easy, and keep on giving for months on end! There are so many different varieties, and they look pretty out in your garden or landscaping. And they are packed with Vitamin A with a super low calorie intake.

You can grow lettuce pretty much anywhere, from a large bed to a pot. They have shallow root systems, so prep your area with a big chunk of compost. Plant your seeds between October to November. You can pick the leaves when they are baby-sized or let them grow big and bold. They don’t need regular fertilizing, although if you grow them in pots you may want to add some fish emulsion every couple of weeks since nutrients leak out of pots faster. For eating, simply pick a few leaves or cut the whole head of lettuce off, leaving the root. It will grow back and give you continued harvest into late spring!

Some varieties I am growing: Merlot, Tom Thumb, Cosmic Crimson, Rouge D’Hiver Romaine, Little Gem Bibb and Butterhead.

Broccoli

Broccoli is so fun to grow, especially because you can get a head start right now by starting seeds indoors! Your kids will love helping you plant seeds and then transplanting your seedlings outside. Broccoli does need some room, so a raised bed would be ideal. Prep your area with a general fertilizer, and then feed them every 2 weeks with the same fertilizer once transplanted. They are hungry feeders but will reward you with huge crowns!

You’ll know the crown is ready to eat when it is 4-8 inches across, is firm to the touch and the outside florets are the size of a matchstick head. The fun part here is after you harvest the crown, the plant will then send out smaller side shoots you can harvest as well. Also, you can totally eat the leaves! Broccoli has SO much vitamin C, which is important for your immune function, brain function and wound healing.

Some varieties I am growing: Calabrese, Purple Peacock and Imperial Hybrid.

Strawberries

I love love love strawberries. They are my favorite fruit! And y’all, there is nothing quite like a warm, ripe strawberry freshly picked from your backyard garden. My girls especially love heading out each day in the spring to hunt for the fruit. In fact, it is hard to get enough inside because we end up eating so many out in the garden!

Eat More Fruits and Veggies This Month by Growing Your Own!
My 2 year old daughter scarfing up all the strawberries.

You’ll want to order bare root strawberry plants to be planted in November. They’ll look pretty dead when you get them, but don’t worry, give them a few days in the ground and they will green up. You can grow strawberries anywhere: in raised beds, in pots, in hanging baskets, in towers, etc. Prep the site with lots of compost. Come February, fertilize them with a berry fertilizer, and do this again after your harvest in May/June. 

The best type of strawberries to grow here in our climate are June-bearing strawberries which give you a large bountiful harvest for about 2 months in spring. They typically can’t survive our hot Texas summers very well, but you can just start the whole process over again next year! Strawberries have an abundance of Vitamin C as well as antioxidants which help fight inflammation and diseases like cancer. 

Some varieties I am growing: Chandler and Sweet Charlie {June-bearing}

Happy Harvest!

Do you grow any of your own fruits and veggies? Do you have any tips. you would like to share? 


 

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Dani has spent the vast majority of her life in the greater Houston area, and there’s no place else she’d rather be! She loves all things Houston, from the culture, to the sports, to the FOOD {ohhhh, Tex-Mex}. After many years attending Texas A&M University {twice!} and the University of Texas Health Science Center Houston, she found her true calling practicing family medicine as a family nurse practitioner in north Spring. She absolutely loves building rewarding relationships with her patients and helping them live healthier lives in mind, body and spirit. When not at work, Dani is wife to her best friend and a fellow practitioner of medicine, Stu, and mom to two little spitfires, Emilia {2017} and Caroline {2019}. In her free time, Dani is an avid gardener and has a large passion for all things outdoors and healthy living. You can follow her on Instagram @summerskyegardens and check out her gardening YouTube page!

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