3 Nutritious Produce Plants That Are Easy to Grow in Your Home Garden During Summer
Produce picked at its peak then eaten straight away is one of the healthiest, most cost-effective and satisfying ways to reap the benefits of summer gardening. Summer is the ideal time to get planting for a salad crop and autumn soups. We have chosen: Tomato, cucumber and pumpkin, all very nutritious and delicious
Rich in Vitamins A and C and the antioxidant lycopene, tomatoes are staples of both the kitchen and garden. Plant seedlings now and you’ll have crops in February.
There are almost as many varieties of tomato as there are sizes and uses. For cooking, try Grosse Lisse or Reggae Roma, which both need staking in the garden, or San Marzano or Pot Prize, which are ideal for growing in pots.
In sandwiches and salads, use Mama’s Delight or any of the beefsteak varieties, including Black Russian, with its purple-black fruit.
Yellow tomatoes are mellow in flavour, less acidic and sweeter, making them the best pick for sensitive stomachs.
Cherry varieties are tough survivors despite their small size and also highly resistant to disease.
TIP: To ripen green tomatoes, put them in a paper bag with a ripe banana.
A sprawling vine in the garden, cucumbers can be grown up a trellis in full sun to save space.
They’re ready for harvest in as little as eight weeks, and the more you pick them, the more they grow. Just use them quickly as they don’t store well.
Cucumbers are mostly water, which makes them a great diet food. They also contain useful amounts of calcium and phosphorus for healthy bones and silica for connective tissues.
For pickles and relishes, try firm varieties like County Air and Pickle Bush. Burpless varieties are less acidic, and live up to their name.
Regal is a high yielding and disease resistant variety so it’s a popular gardener’s choice and the all-purpose Saladin is good for both pickling and salads. Lebanese cucumbers are great all-rounders and fruit prolifically.
TIP: Slice cucumber and use it to treat sunburn, tired eyes, swelling or even dermatitis.
Although we think of pumpkin as a winter food, summer is the time to get growing. Sow seeds directly into the garden where they are to grow, and you’ll be harvesting by autumn.
When harvesting, leave as much stem as possible attached to each pumpkin as it helps them last longer.
Pumpkins are full of vitamins, including E, A and C. Their high folate and iron content makes them a great food choice for pregnant women and vegetarians.
There are dozens of different pumpkins, but the best eating varieties are the type with thick grey skins that are usually about 4kg each, or butternuts, which are smaller and easier to cut.
Grey-skinned varieties include Kent, which is a medium size with relatively easy to cut skin. It’s great for steaming, stir-fries and baking.
West Australian-bred Jarrahdale is larger, with a thicker skin that makes it a great keeper. It’s a drought-tolerant variety that is excellent in soups and bread. Sweet Grey is similar, with higher yields and sweeter flesh.
Butternut pumpkins are best for warm areas. Their sweet flesh is particularly good for soups, or they can be roasted with the skins on.
While most pumpkins require several square metres of space, Golden Nugget is perfect for small gardens. They’re best stuffed and baked.
TIP: Dried pumpkin seeds from any variety also make a tasty snack and contain dietary fatty acids.
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