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Grow Your Own

If you really want to eat local, grow veggies in your own backyard.

By Christie Matheson

garden

"Eat local" is a foodie mantra for good reason. The longer your food is off the vine, tree, or stalk, the fewer nutrients it retains. Salad greens lose about half their vitamin C within 24 hours of being picked; stored for a week, they drop almost half of their heart-healthy flavonols. So even goodies from the farmers' market don't pack the biggest possible nutritional punch.

If you really want to eat local, grow veggies in your own backyard. "The vegetables we grow ourselves taste better," says Mary Dumont, chef at the Dunaway Restaurant in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Dumont suggests home gardeners sow arugula. "It's also known as rocket, for good reason," she says. "It grows so fast." It's rich in folic acid and vitamins A and C. Sow seeds after the last frost; you can harvest leaves in just three weeks. Green beans are another easy-to-grow choice and give you a good dose of fiber. (Space bush bean rows 18 inches apart, pole beans 30 inches apart.) Tomatoes are loaded with vitamins A and C and the antioxidant lycopene, but the main reason to grow them is the fresh-from-the-vine flavor.

Dumont advises using rich soil for planting and relying on compost or organic fertilizers to address any deficiencies. "It matters what's in your soil, because that's what you'll put in your body," she says, bringing up yet another benefit of growing your own: What goes into the soil is entirely up to you.

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Reader Comments

Gloria

Never thought of that but it sounds like a good way to keep the ground warm if you don't have a hot box to grow it in during cold weather.

Jeannie

DRYER VENT???!!!

Mary Saunders

A large pot outside my kitchen door sits by the dryer vent. I can duck out the door and pick green onions, oregono, and rainbow chard. It is very handy. Right outside your kitchen door is Zone 1 in permaculture theory. That is where you want to grow the things you will use a lot: lettuckes, herbs, greens, things in the onion and garlic family, which are good to throw quickly in a pot so everybody knows dinner's on. m

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