Strictly speaking we should be able to get all the vitamins we need from nature, but when you see those irresistible bottles and jars of ‘extra vitamin’ supplements, it’s almost criminal not to give them a try. Though more often than not, they get forgotten about or we didn’t need them in the first place..
Save some cash and go au naturel this year..
There are nine main vitamins we can find in everyday food crops and all of them can be grown at home. Vitamins D and B12 are absorbed through sunlight, and in meat and dairy products, so unless you are keeping your own hens, some vitamins will have to be ‘bought’ in – although that still doesn’t mean hitting the pill bottles… buy organic fresh produce as far as possible and grow the rest of the vitamins you and your family need:
Garden produce high in vitamin C includes tomatoes, blackcurrants, peppers and strawberries. Peppers and tomatoes should be planted every year, but strawberries and blackcurrants need a permanent patch and will produce fruit for a number of years with just a little TLC.
And did you know rosehips have more vitamin C (gram for gram) than oranges?
One medium carrot can provide all the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A, which helps vision, and also acts as an antioxidant in the body to help fight off free radicals. Pumpkin is another good source of vitamin A, as well as winter kale, so remember to plant some before the summer’s out. Fresh green veg in the winter will help ward off colds and flu as well.
Vitamin B1 converts carbs and fats into energy so for a boost of daily energy, keep up with the B1. Foods rich in this vitamin are broad beans ( which can be grown twice a year ), sweet corn, hazelnuts and garlic. Garlic is easy to grow in a small space. Sweetcorn and hazelnuts need a bit more space, but are simple to grow and are popular and nutritious family foods.
Although vitamin B2 can be found in spinach and is easy to grow in the home garden, we could diversify a little here and go for different tastes. Salsify is a vegetable that many of us have forgotten about. It used to be called the oyster vegetable and is a great root crop as long as you have a good depth of soil in the veggie patch. Mushrooms are a good source of B2 and can be grown in kit form indoors. There are some amazing varieties of mushrooms you can grow at home.
Potatoes and onions are a good source of vitamin B6. If you worry about potatoes being a weight gaining food, a fresh potato straight from the ground doesn’t need any additional butter, cheese or other toppings to make it tasty! Buy a specially designed potato barrel to save space – and digging! Onions, if stored well, will last for months.
Asparagus and raspberries have often been considered to be ‘luxury’ crops – maybe because they are so expensive to buy? Both crops can be grown at home and will thrive for years with very little attention. Asparagus arrives during the ‘hungry gap’ – after the winter crops have finished and before the spring crops begin. And raspberries turn up in early summer usually.
Folate isn’t made by the body so must come from a good source. Luckily it is found in everyday veggies we can grow at home. Beetroot and green beans are good sources of folate. Another source, that we often overlook, is parsley. Chop parsley finely and sprinkle over your food, rather than leave it on the side of the plate as an inedible garnish – it really is packed full of goodness.
Niacin (B3) is one of the most active vitamins in the body and breaks down fats and sugars. It is generally found in protein rich foods such as meat, fish and pulses. Courgettes (zucchini) are a good source of niacin and can crop right through the summer and autumn months. Peas are also high in niacin and can be started off early in the year. Peas are a good vegetable to grow in the home vegetable patch as they can replace nitrogen in the soil.
Pantothenic Acid (B5):
Another of the B vitamins, this one is needed to produce B12 which helps maintain cell structure in the blood. Broccoli and parsnips are a good source of B5. Parsnips are best left in the ground until after the first frost so are a great early winter vegetable. They also store well. Try growing different types of broccoli; dwarf varieties are ideal for container growing.
Don’t forget that all of these crops mentioned have other vitamins and minerals apart from the ones listed above, and the best way to feed yourself and your family is to grow an assortment of fruit and vegetables, and remember to eat them!
PS. Garden Vitamins’ has plenty of tips and advice should you want to try your hand at growing some vitamins at home. It’s available at most major online bookstores but you can grab a free copy here for a limited time. Enjoy!
This handy digital copy of Garden Vitamins highlights 28 different fruits and vegetables you can grow at home and collect 9 valuable vitamins to keep your family healthy and well-fed.
All these popular fruits and vegetables have brief but concise growing instructions and are categorized by vitamin so you know exactly what you’re getting from your new hobby.