5 Easy Vegetable Plants to Grow and Their Benefits

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There is no better satisfaction than growing, harvesting and eating your own vegetables, and you don’t need a green thumb to be successful at it.  Apart from being super fresh, they also taste much better.  To get started, all you need is a couple of pots or a patch of soil and you can make a contribution to your family’s five-a-day portions of fruit and veg.

Whether you're a gardening novice or just want to start a vegetable garden with the least amount of time and effort, here are some of the most popular (and easiest) vegetables to grow for a delicious supply of fresh produce.

Lettuce grows very quickly, is easy to harvest (harvest while plants are mature or pick leaves as needed), and takes up very little space. They can even be grown in containers, perhaps accompanied by flowers.  Crunchy fresh leaves with a fantastic range of textures and flavours.  Try growing some of our ‘cut and come again’ salad leaves such as ‘Baby Leaf Mix’ throughout the summer months, and you’ll be cutting fresh leaves for your sandwiches and salads just 3 weeks later! Better still, they will continue growing so you can harvest them again and again.

Why is it good for us?
Besides from the plethora of vitamins in contains, it also boasts a very low calorie content and almost zero fat, a wealth of fibre that aids your digestive system, and plenty of vitamin C and beta-carotene which work together to help prevent high cholesterol and maintain a healthy heart.

Courgettes, or Zucchini as it’s known in other parts of the world, can be planted in May after the late frosts.  Some varieties are perfect for patio containers – keep them well watered and pick the fruit regularly.  For a fantastic summer crop try Courgette F1.

We use grated courgettes in our cakes, such as courgette and chocolate cake, and lime and courgette loaf cake.  The flowers can also be eaten and taste great when stuffed and fried.

Top tip:  When powdery mildew turns the leaves white in late summer, courgettes’ leaves die off. Do remove them to prevent the spread or if they are really badly affected, dig up and discard the plant on the compost heap.

Why are they good for us?
They provide useful amounts of immune system-boosting vitamin C, and significant levels of potassium, which is key to controlling blood pressure. The soluble fibre in the skin slows down digestion, and so stabilises blood sugar and insulin levels.

Supermarket beans are expensive and are often imported.  However, they are very easy to grow.  Runner beans are climbers so give them plenty of space and train them onto wires or a plant support frame.  Keep them well watered and they will reward you with a constant supply in summer if you pick the beans every few days.  We like Runner Bean ‘Streamline’.

Why are they good for us?
If you're looking for a vegetable with stellar amounts of antioxidants and flavonoids, runner beans certainly fit the bill. Flavonoids like catechins (also found in green tea) in green beans help reduce body fat and can prevent obesity. Epicatechins improve heart health and help prevent cancer and diabetes, and the procyanidins in beans provide even more antioxidants.

A great choice for the greenhouse or a patio pot, but worth growing in the ground too.  Tomatoes are easy to raise from seed in March, but if you’ve missed the boat, May is a great time to buy Tomato plants.  They do well in a greenhouse, in containers or the border.  Alternatively, plant them outside once the danger of frost has passed in late May/early June.  Tomato plants are very quick to establish, you can almost watch them grow so they are the ideal easy vegetable for kids to grow.  Choose a bush variety like Tomato ‘Red Alert’. That can be planted in window boxes. Bush varieties don’t require training or pinching out of side-shoot, so you only need to feed and water them.  

Want to supersize?  Why not take it to the next level with this 'Gigantomo' beefsteak variety. It produces enormous fruits that can each weigh up to the equivalent of a packet of Vitax Q4+ (0.9kg)! WOW!

Why are they good for us?
Whether you refer to a tomato as a fruit or a vegetable, there is no doubt that a tomato is a nutrient-dense, super-food that most people should be eating more of.  Due to their beneficial phytochemicals such as lycopene, tomatoes also play a role in preventing chronic disease such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. They also deliver a wealth of other health benefits too including healthy skin and hair, increased energy and lower weight. 

For an easy to grow root vegetable try beetroot.  Often used in salads but are also delicious when cooked or pickled.  Their leaves can also be cooked and enjoyed in the same way as spinach.  Beetroot can be sown directly into the ground from March to July.  As they grow, thin the seedlings to about 5cm apart.  You can look forward to harvesting your own colourful beetroot from May to September.  Our favourites are Beetroot ‘Darko’ and ‘Golden’.

Why is it good for us?
It is packed with essential nutrients and is a great source of fibre, iron and vitamin C.  Beetroots and beetroot juice have been associated with many health benefits, including improving blood flow, lowering blood pressure and increasing exercise performance.
All of our vegetable plants are now available in the glasshouse next to Arthurs restaurant.

Happy growing!
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