Growing Greens to Boost Your Iron Intake
& COOKING ARTICLE
If you arent much of a meat-eater, you may struggle
to get enough iron from your diet, with government
surveys showing that iron deficiency is relatively
common among women. However, the good news is that a number
of vegetables, which can be successfully grown
in your own garden in the UK, are able to boost your
iron intake. Green vegetables are a good source of plant-based
iron, but also offer plenty of fibre, vitamin C, beta-carotene
and folate. The fact that these vegetables are high in vitamin
C is useful, as it helps
your body to absorb non-meat source of iron more efficiently.
Here we take a look at five green vegetables that are rich
in iron and some growing tips to get you started.
Although like many other leafy greens spinach has a slightly
bitter taste, it can be used in a range of recipes
from salads and pasta dishes to soups and curries - that
allow you to combine the leaves with other flavours. If
you have never grown spinach before, try
perpetual spinach, which is very easy to grow and
will continue to produce more leaves after cutting. Sowing
these spinach seeds under cover in March allows you to enjoy
the leaves by the end of the spring, while sowing from April
will make sure you have a supply in the summer and autumn;
for a winter crop, sow covered in August or September. Ensure
you water the plants well when it is dry and pick out flower
heads, as flowering reduces the length of the cropping season.
If using in a salad, pick the leaves when they are young,
as they have a milder flavour at this stage.
If you are looking for a
hardy winter vegetable that requires little care, plant
kale in July for a crop ready between October and March;
its also free from pests besides caterpillars in early
spring. There are a range of varieties to choose from, but
Dwarf Green Curled Kale grows well in poor soils and produces
tender leaves, while Redbor adds a splash of colour to dishes.
Growing your own allows you to enjoy kale at its freshest,
as its flavour deteriorates just a couple of days after
Besides offering the typical nutrients common to most green
vegetables, peas are also a useful source of protein and
zinc. While you might not be familiar with zinc, we need
this essential nutrient for a strong immune system and KwikMed
advises that this is another mineral commonly deficient
in a largely vegetarian diet. When it comes to preparing
the ground for sowing, according
to a BBC growing guide, pea seeds sown in ground
that is cold and wet will rot, so protect the soil with
polythene prior to sowing. Sow shorter varieties in blocks,
with seeds 6 inches apart and sown at a depth of 2 inches.
However, sow taller varieties in a row, with 2 to 4 inches
between seeds, adding subsequent rows at least a foot apart.
If you would like more than one harvest, sow new seeds every
two weeks. Once the seedlings are 2 or 3 inches tall, use
bamboo canes as stakes to offer support to their tendrils.
Pick peas regularly to ensure freshness, though once the
crop is over, dont remove the whole plants, as their
roots contain beneficial bacteria that add nitrogen to the
soil, so allow the roots to decompose and add this nitrogen
to the soil for the benefit of future crops.
If you want broccoli thats full of flavour, choose
purple sprouting broccoli. This also has the advantage that
it will come again after cutting. May or June is the best
time to plant
broccoli seeds and this gives you a crop in February
and March; sow seeds in trays, an inch or two apart in half-inch
deep grooves. When the seedlings appear, thin them to 3
inches apart and after a month plant them in the ground.
You should leave 2 feet between plants and as they grow
you may need to support them using a cane; also be aware
that they attract slugs, snails and caterpillars, so use
deterrents and remove any caterpillars that you see. Its
important that you pick the ripe spears of broccoli when
ready, as if you dont they will flower, so keep an
eye on your crops around harvest time.
Used extensively in Asian cooking, pak choi also works
well in salads and stir-fries when leaves are small. Baby
leaves are available just 30 days after sowing, while mature
heads take up to two and a half months. However, you need
fertile soil and a sunny spot in your garden to achieve
best results. The Royal
Horticultural Society recommends sowing the seeds
for pak choi between April and July in rows at least a foot
apart; this is particularly important if you want to harvest
when the heads of pak choi are fully mature. If growing
baby leaf, thin seedlings to 3 inches apart, but thin to
at least 10 inches for full-size heads. Watering the plants
well will avoid the plants going to seed and ensures they
are full of flavour when you pick them.
Article written by Jenni Perkins
Hub-UK : firstname.lastname@example.org