Looking for some healthy options to grow in your garden? Whether you’re a novice gardener or you have more experience, we have suggestions for tasty summer superfoods you can grow at home, including crops you can grow in containers if you don’t have a garden.
What are superfoods, you ask? The term is used to refer to foods with health-promoting properties, such as high concentrations of vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. We’ve selected a variety of superfood crops so you can pick the ones that fit your gardening experience, soil type, and climate.
These beginner-friendly superfoods offer regular harvests. To fully enjoy the health benefits they offer, be sure to use them fresh, just after you pick them.
Pots and Containers
Microgreens and herbs are not only rich in antioxidants but they’re also easy-to-grow superfoods that don’t require a lot of space. They are suitable for beginning gardeners because quality soil and regular watering satisfy most of their needs. They can be grown in pots — even inside the house. Just make sure you locate the plants where they get plenty of sunlight.
Snap peas and kale are low-maintenance crops that grow best planted in garden soil. Because these plants have a good tolerance for varying weather conditions, you won’t have to worry about them dying because of a late frost. They also require plenty of sunshine and well-drained soil to grow — although some shade will not affect the overall quality of the crops. Snap peas are an excellent source of vitamins C and K and superfood kale is one of the most nutrient-dense foods around.
Moderately Difficult Crops
These nutrient-rich crops are slightly more challenging to grow. First, let’s look at a popular superfood that grows well in containers.
Pots and Containers
For the space-conscious, a great container-dwelling plant to consider is strawberries. These fruits are packed with vitamins C and B9, as well as minerals and antioxidants. You need fertile soil to grow strawberries successfully — consider using natural fertilizers that don’t cost you a thing. Strawberries need regular watering but be careful not to overwater them — if the soil gets too soggy, deadly microbes can threaten the welfare of your plant.
Although it is possible to grow tomatoes in containers, this section will focus on the garden-dwelling varieties. Tomatoes require frost-free conditions, so plant them after the risk of frost has passed. These plants love sun and need plenty of it to produce healthy and tasty fruit. It is best to stake the plants early so they’ll have support as they grow and be sure to fertilize them regularly once they start producing fruit.
Fruit trees can be very rewarding if you have the patience for a long-term gardening investment. Apples offer wonderful health benefits and come in many different varieties. Cherries also offer excellent nutritional value, and these sweet fruits can be incredibly flavorful if cared for properly. Plant these trees in sunny spots in well-drained soil and keep a lookout for fungal diseases and pests — use organic fungicides and natural pest control methods to keep them healthy. In the case of cherries, bird netting is a must if you want to protect your fruit from unwanted invaders. To ensure healthy growth, prune your fruit trees twice a year.
Pots and Containers
Blueberries have high concentrations of antioxidants, vitamin C, manganese, and fiber and offer many health benefits. These fruits can be hard to grow in garden soil as they have specific requirements — they require acidic soil. Varieties you can grow in a container are easier to maintain, but you do need large pots. To ensure pollination, you’ll need two to three plants (in different containers). You can use peat moss to help ensure that the soil is acidic enough. Blueberries need to be watered regularly — on hot days even twice a day. You’ll also need to protect the fruit from birds with bird netting. Monitor the plant carefully, as yellowing leaves are a warning sign that the pH levels of your soil are changing and need to be adjusted. But if you are careful and attentive, you will be rewarded with an annual bounty of tasty and healthy fruit.
A summertime favorite, watermelon can be challenging to grow, especially in northern areas. It needs a minimum of 70°F soil temperature for the entire duration of its growth — which can be up to 100 days. Its highly sensitive roots make it difficult to transplant successfully; however, those who like challenges can learn its tricks. You also need to look out for common watermelon diseases to ensure that you will be able to enjoy the fruit after the waiting time is over.
Sweet potatoes have similar preferences to watermelons, needing from 90 to 170 frost-free days to grow; however, they are slightly easier to transplant. Harvest them young and cure them for at least 10 days before you eat them. Although you may encounter a variety of issues when growing sweet potatoes, you can usually solve them if you are prepared.
A Little Research Goes a Long Way
While each of these superfood crops requires different conditions and care, the difficulty levels mentioned above refer mostly to the crop’s sensitivity to changing weather conditions and susceptibility to pests and other issues. However, with proper research, you can avoid or manage many of these issues. Carefully monitor the growth of your plants and be informed about what certain signs might mean regarding their health.
About the Author
Dora Pista is a blogger and hobby gardener, with a passion for healthy eating and cooking. She created the infographic above in collaboration with Wire Fence to help beginner gardeners start their journey into superfood growing.