Five Cancer-Fighting Vegetables You Can Grow Now
family planting garden

Plant, Grow, Eat

With spring officially here, now is the time to start planting if you want farm fresh, homegrown cancer-fighting veggies this summer. This is a great way to try new veggies – like rainbow chard or purple carrots – and have fun gardening with your kids. 

Here's five veggies (plus herbs), easy to find and grow, and perfect for gardeners at any level.

potting plants

Healthy Soil, Healthy Plants

To get started, make sure you have these two essentials: water and plenty of sun. Find a spot – inside or out - where your veggies will get about six hours of sun and you can water when needed.

If you're planting in pots, purchase container soil mix from your local garden store. For the yard, it's likely your veggies will grow better if you add compost or other organic matter. Your local garden store can help you choose what's best for the soil in your area.

radishes growing

1. Radishes

Add color and crunch to your meals with these quick-growing veggies. Choose from varieties like red Cherry Belle or the more exotic Watermelon, White Icicle or French Breakfast radishes.

Plant the seeds according to package directions. Keep the soil moist with light watering- don't saturate or let it get mucky. Seedlings will pop up in about 5-6 days. When the plants are a couple inches tall, pull out some of the seedlings (this is called thinning) so remaining plants are about three inches apart. You can harvest in about 3 weeks.

cropped radish bean

Radishes: What to Do with Them

Did you know that radishes are in the same family as broccoli and Brussels sprouts? These cruciferous vegetables are a good source of vitamin C and pack a cancer-fighting phytochemical punch with flavonoid compounds called anthocyanins.

Enjoy the delicious crunch and mild heat from radishes in this colorful spring recipe: Spring White Bean Salad with Hard Cooked Eggs.

spinach in garden

2. Spinach

Tasty spinach needs cool weather and fertilizer to thrive. Plant the seeds in early spring. Once they've grown a couple of inches, thin out some of the seedlings, allowing about 3-5 inches between remaining plants so they can produce bigger leaves. You can use the tender young leaves you’ve thinned out in a salad

Every couple of weeks, use an all-purpose vegetable fertilizer to feed the plants. Harvest by cutting off the full-size leaves – this allows more leaves to grow from the crown of the plant.

spinach salad

Spinach: What to Do with It

Iron, potassium, fiber, folate and carotenoids are just a few of the nutrients packaged in this tasty leafy green. Try this spicy twist on a spinach salad: Mexican Spinach Salad

chard varieties

3. Chard

Also known as Swiss Chard, this vegetable loves heat and is typically resistant to diseases and insect damage. Chard is a leafy green, but some varieties have bright red, white or purple stalks.

Plant seeds in mid to late spring and you'll see seedlings in 1-2 weeks. By now you know to thin at 2-3 inches height - and toss those little leaves into a salad or stir-fry.

When outer leaves are 6 inches tall, harvest by cutting them about 1 inch from the ground. Pick often and the plant will continue to produce new leaves.

stuffed chicken breast

Chard: What to Do with It

Chard is delicious simply sautéed in a little olive oil, but you can use this leafy green - rich in magnesium and vitamins C and K - to create more elegant fare.

Try our Glazed Chicken and Swiss Chard Roll-Ups.

Bell pepper plants

4. Peppers - Sweet Bell or Hot

Go green, red or yellow with peppers. Choose your favorite bell or hot pepper plants (not seeds) at your local garden store. Transplant these seedlings to your garden pot or soil. Be sure to give these bushy plants plenty of space - they can grow to 3 feet tall.

Pinch off just the first few flowers and budding peppers to allow the plant to grow larger and produce more later. Fertilize the plants after several peppers have formed. For hot peppers, harvest when green, or you can wait until they mature and turn red, yellow, or purple.

stuffed pepper new

Peppers: What to Do with Them

All peppers come packed with nutrients - especially vitamin C and several kinds of carotenoids. Red bell peppers contain more than green peppers because they've matured longer on the plant, allowing time to accumulate more nutrients.

Whether using red, green or hot varieties, peppers star in - or add to - a variety of delicious and nutritious dishes. Peppers Stuffed with Turkey and Wild Rice makes a great one-pot meal.

herbs in pots

5. Parsley and Basil - on Demand

Herbs are among the easier crops to grow. Parsley and basil do well in a pot and regular harvesting allows these herbs to keep producing all summer long.

If you have a sunny window, grow these herbs indoors for super-easy care. Start with young plants from your garden store. Plant in pots that drain well and keep the soil moist. Snip the outer stems of parsley for summer-long harvest. Snip off basil sprigs just above the stem where new leaves are sprouting and it will produce more branches and leaves.

spring roll picture

Herbs for Summer Fresh Taste

Basil and parsley are rich in vitamin K and both contain many phytochemicals that lab studies suggest may act as an anti-inflammatory compound.

For basil, you can wow your family and friends in these stunning Fresh Avocado and Vegetable Spring Rolls. Packed with veggies, your homegrown fresh basil will top off a perfect light summer appetizer or snack.

vegetable garden

Get Growing

Now you're ready to garden! For more resources to help you plant, grow and eat, check out these resources:

Connect with us on twitter (@aicrtweets) or Facebook and share your ideas.

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    Published on November 21, 2015

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