Superfoods you can grow at home

Products labelled 'superfoods' are often sold with high price tags attached, but our gardening experts explain how easy it is to grow them yourself at home.

Winter's about to settle in and you might be busy planning how to incorporate more nutritious food into our diets. While you could hit up a health food store to get your supplements, we think it's more fun to have a go at growing superfoods yourself.

These horticulturists' tips will not only save you some cash but leave you with a bounty of super fresh, immune-boosting ingredients at your fingertips.

Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are full of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, fibre and even have anti-inflammatory properties.

"Sweet potatoes can be started from tubers and potted plants," says Angie Thomas, horticulture consultant to Yates. "Plant them in the ground when you have around five months of warm, frost-free weather ahead."

 

Rosemary

"Rosemary can be used to make teas and for flavouring foods, and is known for contributing to memory retention and increased focus," says Georgina Reid, horticulturist and ambassador of Plant Life Balance. "I sometimes make rosemary tea using fresh leaves from the garden."

Rosemary loves a dry climate and lots of sun, so plant outdoors in the full sun. Once established, the plant is very drought tolerant. Prune regularly to encourage dense growth - be sure to save the prunings, which you can hang in bunches to dry.

Kale

This green leafy vegetable is loaded with fibre, vitamins and antioxidants. Being from the same plant family as broccoli and cauliflower, it may help fight cancer and absorb free radicals.

"Grow kale in a sunny or partly-shaded veggie patch that’s been enriched with an organic fertiliser before planting," says Angie. "You can also grow kale in a pot. Feed your kale regularly with a soluble plant food to help keep it healthy and flourishing."

Oregano

"Oregano is packed with antioxidants," Georgina says. "I'll be adding some extra leaves to my spaghetti sauces to help boost my immunity over the cooler months."

Oregano makes a vigorous groundcover in semi-shaded to sunny spots. Plant outdoors and keep well-watered until established, then pick leaves as you need them.

Parsley

Parsley has high levels of the flavonoid known as apigenin which is thought to have anti-carcinogenic properties, as well as being an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.

"Parsley, especially flat-leaf varieties, is very happy growing in full sun to part shade. It's quite tough once established, but will grow more vigorously if watered regularly," says Georgina.

Parsley plants will go to seed at the end of the growing season - allow some seed heads dry, drop their seeds on the ground and you'll be growing new plants in no time.

Turmeric

Turmeric has made a name for itself recently as one of the most potent superfoods around, with claims that its active compound curcumin could reduce the risk of cancer, have anti-inflammatory properties, benefit cardiovascular health, improve blood sugar levels and assist in reducing the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

"Choose a warm and partly-shaded location to grow your own turmeric and enrich the soil with a rich source of organic matter before planting," Angie advises. "Plant turmeric rhizomes (underground stems) about 40 centimetres apart, water well and keep moist."

Use turmeric in your own homemade turmeric lattes, add it to soups to make a hearty winter broth, pop it into your morning smoothie or mix it in with scrambled eggs and frittatas.

Blueberries

Blueberries are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, fibre and can help to reduce inflammation. They should be planted in a sunny spot with well-drained, slightly acidic soil.

"Blueberries also do really well in pots," says Angie. "Keep the soil moist and regularly feed with a liquid plant food."

Thyme

Thyme has anti-fungal properties, is very high in antioxidants and Georgina says it's a great herb to add to your morning herbal tea brew.

Thyme loves lots of sun and not too much humidity. Plant outdoors in full sun and water until the plant is established. Pick leaves as you need them. Leaves can be dried and used in teas and cooking.

Chilli

Chillis are vitamin C powerhouses, containing far more of the immune-boosting vitamin than oranges.

"I sometimes make a fire brew using chillis, lemon, apple cider vinegar, garlic and ginger and use it over winter to keep the nasty bugs away," Georgina says. "There are heaps of different chilli varieties and all will have slightly different growing times and requirements."

Generally, you should plant chilli plants in spring and make sure they have lots of sun and air movement around each plant. Harvest fruit when they've grown to full size. If you're growing a very hot variety, use gloves when you harvest.

If you have a particularly bountiful crop, Georgina recommends putting excess chillis in the freezer and pulling them out for cooking as required.

Get some more garden inspiration with our guide on what to plant this May.

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