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Live Healthy, Atlanta! Thought Leader Uncategorized

What are the easiest vegetables for beginning gardeners?

By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations

Last week, I wrote about Victory Gardens. I wished they’d make a comeback in the States, since the health benefits of gardens go beyond the simple nutritional value of the produce grown in them. Gardens, or rather the act of gardening, can help lower blood pressure, prevent myopia in children, and help you lose weight.

This week, I’d like to focus on some of the most nutritious foods you can grow this summer in a Georgia garden. If you don’t have space for a traditional plot, don’t fret. There are creative ways to grow food, including window box gardens, indoor planting, and participating in a community garden. Some apartment gardeners even grow microgreens indoors in plastic containers.

I hope you’re inspired to plant a garden this summer. When your seed bears fruit, let us know! We want to share our reader’s personal victories in the garden on the VeinInnovations Facebook page. Produce Pride Photos could be anything good, green, leafy or heirloom, but above all else, we hope they’ll be tasty. Before you buy your seeds or young plants ready for transplant, here’s a guide to some of the best produce you can grow in Georgia.

Two Vegetables Suited to a Georgia Garden

 Pole Beans

 If your garden is just about ready for planting, make a quick trip to the store for seeds and pick up a variety of pole beans. The University of Georgia recommends Blue Lake, Dade, Kentucky Blue, and Mocassin varieties. The planting season for these beans lasts until May 10th.

Beans are known as a meat substitute because their calories are comparable to meat. Beans are more than a substitute for meat; nutritionally, they just might have meat beat. Beans are full of fiber and water, two ingredients that make you feel full, and do so quickly. Beans help you manage your calorie intake without feeling so hungry.

Most Americans struggle to get enough fiber in their diets. One cup of cooked beans contains 12 grams of fiber, or almost half the daily recommended amount. It’s no wonder then that dietary guidelines suggest we eat three cups of beans a week. (The newest guidelines may recommend cutting down on red meat intake – you can use your garden-raised pole beans as a healthy alternative!)

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are sure to delight fresh from the garden and still warm from the summer sun. As with pole beans, you’ll have to hurry to get yours in the dirt. The time is past for raising your plants from seedlings. Go to your local gardening store to buy young plants ready to transplant.

The University of Georgia recommends Early Girl, Big Boy, and Beefmaster (if you’re hoping for big tomatoes) and Jolly or Sweet Baby Girl if you’re interested in cherry tomatoes. It’s best to plant a mix of varieties. Enjoy a medley of tomatoes this summer in everything from salsa to salads. Plain slices with a dash of salt are a complement to any meal. Served with mozzarella, fresh basil, olive oil, and a little balsamic vinegar, they become a meal.

Tomatoes contain antioxidants (certain vitamins and minerals that protect your body from damage caused by harmful molecules known as free radicals.) Three great antioxidants, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E are found in tomatoes. They are also rich in potassium and lycopene. Tomatoes are a great addition to your diet and the fresher they are, the better. They’re also quite simple to prepare: the best tasting tomato in hot weather can be served sliced or diced alone, or with a little onion and some avocado, or eaten handheld, straight from the garden with a dash of salt and pepper.

So get your garden growing, and send us your Produce Pride pictures when you do! We’d love to help you show off the fruits of your labors. Please send them to [email protected], and then watch our FaceBook page for your inspiring produce.

More resources to get you gardening

UGA Extension: Vegetable Gardening in Georgia

Vegetable Planting Chart for Georgia

Walter Reeves: The Georgia Gardener

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