Springing up Veggies: Super Plants for an Athlete's GardenHeather Neal
I swore this year I wouldn’t forget to plant seeds in the raised vegetable garden beds I insisted my husband build in the backyard a few years ago. The first year we planted I was surprised at our success: Veggies actually grew! We had peppers, onions, and greens galore. I failed slightly on growing edible broccoli and carrots, but at least they made pretty garden beds. The next year I forgot to plant seeds and tried seedlings a little too late in the season. I have a really hard time thinking about gardening when there’s a layer of ice on the ground and snow in the forecast, but to get spring and summer veggies to grow, you have to jump on it. This year I promised myself it would happen. There was a snowstorm on the radar for the last official week of winter, so I waited for it to come and go and now it’s time to plant. It’s the perfect way to celebrate the first day of spring.
I missed the boat on a couple things I should have planted before the last frost, so I did a little planting research to see what options I had left. I’m not interesting in fighting a losing battle with my not-so-green thumb. The app Sprout.it was suggested to me as an easy way to figure out what and when to plant what veggies, how much room they need and what kind of watering they need, so I decided to start there. I tried to only pick things listed as “easy,” plus a few “moderates” that I’d had success with before. Once I had my big list, it was time to get picky; I only have so much space. I opted to go with an “athlete’s garden,” planting veggies that would support a fun and active lifestyle. I figure one day I’ll be teaching my son how to fuel his body properly and what better way to start than with this fun-themed garden. If nothing else, I’m sure he’ll love digging in the dirt.
Super Plants for an Athlete-Inspired Garden:
These starchy vegetables are a good source of carbohydrates, which is what gives the body energy for intense activity. Sweet potatoes are also high in iron and vitamin A. Sweet potato vines take up quite a bit of garden space, but regular white or red potatoes can be grown in a lot of different creative containers.
One nutrient-packed veggie, broccoli is rich in vitamins C and K, as well as calcium, which help build strong bones and prevent fractures and breaks.
You might not know that you can easily grow your own dried beans. Instead of harvesting at the green stage, just allow the pods to swell and dry completely before harvesting. Beans are full of antioxidants and protein, which is essential for building and repairing muscles in growing athletes.
These powerful greens are super easy to grow and are packed full of antioxidants, vitamins, calcium, and iron — all vital for healthy, active bodies. Luckily, they’re also great in smoothies, where you can add blueberries to punch up the antioxidants and banana for some extra potassium. The plants are productive. You can prep and freeze them so they’re ready to throw in the blender! Here are some fun smoothie recipes.
Loaded with more vitamin C than citrus fruits, red peppers are easy to slice up and pack as a quick, fresh snack for young athletes on the go.
These sweet, crunchy, and snackable veggies are really easy to grow and provide lots of vitamin A, which supports eye health and good vision. Just pick a variety that works with your soil and be sure to thin.
Do you grow your own veggies? What will you be planting this spring?