Eat Your Veggies

If you live in a major metropolitan area, you may have greater access to a wide range of VEGGIES.  Vegetables sustain populations around the globe.  Some vegetables have varietals available in diverse climates.  It is always amazing that plants of the same type are so wide ranging.  Some vegetables are unique to their particular area of the world.  If there are international markets in your area, you will be able to experiment with many new and appealing foods.  If you mainly have access to the vegetables inherent to your region, then you will find that these provide all the nutrients needed as you move through the growing season.


Fast growing plants come into season in spring and early summer.  Those that take longer to mature start to appear at the markets in mid-summer to early fall.  Finally, the last harvest brings the late bearing plants, which are hardy and excellent for storing over the winter.


In warmer climates, there are often second plantings.  The first planting of crops is early spring and the second is in early summer.  This is possible because of good weather for a longer growing season.  There are also plants that can be seeded in early fall that will lay dormant until the earliest days of spring and will then germinate. On the  several continents, it never ceases to be of interest that in every area, the nourishing plant life provides exactly what is needed for the people and wild life of that region.


A wide variety of vegetables is needed to accomplish not only the broadest cross-section of nutrients but also to satisfy the palette.   In spring green leafy plants are literally springing from the pastures, forests and fields.  These plants are full of chlorophyll to cleanse the liver and gall bladder as well as vibrant amounts of vitamins and minerals to revitalize the body after the long months of winter.  Dandelion, fern, wild cabbage, lettuces, arugula, and soon thereafter, the dark and robust mustard, chard, beet and turnip greens come one after the other in the early growing season.  Extreme climates such as the Amazon Basin or the sandy deserts of the Earth, do not have the same varietals, but they provide a similar seasonal progression of local plant life to sustain the populations.


As the growing season progresses, seeds and pods become available.  Peas, beans, ground-nuts, okra, and corn afford rich dense nutrient values that begin the change toward cooler weather.  These provide fats, carbohydrate and proteins which are the building blocks of the physical body.  Many of the seeds/ nuts and pods can be preserved through the cold weather months.


Cruciferous vegetables such as bok choy, cabbage (red and green) Brussels sprouts, rutabaga and radish, broccoli and cauliflower and kale provide a wealth of vitamins, minerals, fiber, chlorophyll and notably, sulforaphane, a widely recognized anti-cancer protective bio-nutrient.


Finally, the late maturing vegetables come into season.  Veggie lovers always want more!  There are root vegetables such as carrot and parsnip, beet and turnip, rutabaga and celery root.  There are tubers, potato, sweet potato, yucca, plantain and burdock.  And there are bulbs like garlic, onion, leek, as well as stalks like celery, rhubarb, and asparagus, which starts in early spring and grows through the growing season.  These are easily roasted, added to soups and boiled and mashed.  As the growing season matures, so do the plants that grow.  They provide the dense nutrient values needed to bolster the human system for the coming cold season.


There is another class of vegetable that is also available and is harvested from early spring to late fall.  Sea vegetation is a wealth of minerals, particularly radiation protective iodine, alginate, strontium and bromine, gland protective sulfur and phosphorus as well as vitamins, a wealth of minerals, fiber, chlorophyll, and anti-inflammatory polysaccharides.  Many cultures throughout Europe and the Middle and Far East as well as the Coastal Indigenous of the Americas recognize the wealth of life-giving vegetation that the sea has to offer.


There are many options for getting creative in finding space to ‘grow your own’.  There is nothing like a tomato, fresh from the vine, corn picked at dawn and cucumbers crisp and crunchy as the sun is setting.  There are climbing planters, flower box systems, wood chip gardening and many varieties of year round growing, green houses.  Ingenious people have figured out ways to grow your favorite vegetables on the widow sill of an apartment, on the terrace, up on the roof, on a small plot and half underground.  Once you have accomplished the rather exciting growth of these richly verdant plants, there are plenty of ways to prepare, preserve and repurpose them for months of use.



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The Backyard Farmstead by Carleen Madegen