Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Vegetable growing ‘can lead to health benefits’

When growing plants in greenhouses, there is a very wide range of benefits that green-fingered enthusiasts stand to gain from.

It all depends on what the controlled environment is expected to be used for – and one of the most popular solutions is vegetable growing.

There are clearly many reasons for this – not least of which is the fact that it can be tremendously satisfying to put something you've grown from seed on the kitchen table. It can add an extra – and very personal – layer of satisfaction on top of the creative fulfilment that can already come with preparing a good meal.

Speaking to UK national newspaper the Daily Telegraph, nutritionist Jane Clarke outlined some of her personal favorite herbs and vegetables to think about. Perhaps unsurprisingly given the nature of her profession, she seemed to pick things that would help to maintain a healthy diet.

"At the moment I am eating loads of root vegetables, such as carrots, all young and raw, as well as deliciously dark green kale and cabbages, leeks and chards," the expert commented.

Carrots – part of the daucus carota species – are a very common vegetable that will undoubtedly be hugely familiar to many a kitchen grower. The orange root vegetable is easy to take for granted, but it has not always had its oblong shape and crisp texture. It has been selectively bred by horticulturalists over hundreds of years to be much larger and more palatable than its ancestors.

Greenhouse growers can start planting carrots earlier than most, as the seeds can be sown in this kind of controlled environment in late December or January. This should lead to the first fingering carrots emerging in May – and they can be sown ahead of the main crop in March.

Ms Clarke noted that growing vegetables in this way can be much more satisfying than simply heading out to the shops.

"When you grow your own meals the whole ceremony of growing and preparing the food is highly seductive and sensory," she commented – going on to suggest that the flipside of this would be microwavable convenience food – comparing this to bad sex. 

The expert also claimed that carrots are among a select group of vegetables that have anti-carcinogenic properties.

"Vegetables with orange and red pigments such as carrots and beetroot are high in beta-carotene which has been proven to reduce the risk of certain cancers," she commented, adding: "You can increase the ability of your body to absorb these by cooking them with oils such as rapeseed or olive oil."

Ms Clarke also detailed some of the other health benefits of using a garden to maintain this kind of positive diet.

She explained that a person's gut and mood are very closely connected – so it is important to keep it at work with plenty of fresh vegetables.

A parsley salad was recommended in particular. If this is combined with things like, shallots, preserved lemons and a simple olive oil dressing, they can also introduce the highly beneficial Omega 3 fatty acid to a diet.