- Mandarin Oranges
Why They’re Healthy: These sweet little fruits are a decent source of antioxidants, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and fiber.
How to Grow: Purchase dwarf mandarin orange trees for the best chance of growing fruits successfully indoors. Trees grow best in spacious pots with drainage at bottom, and in rich soil. They also require a sunny location. Water regularly, allowing soil to dry out slightly between watering. Trees can grow up to six feet tall, and their root system grows along with them — when the roots begin to grow back on themselves or out of drainage holes, it’s time to re-pot in container that’s at least 2 inches larger in diameter.
How to Harvest: Mandarins need to be harvested as soon as they turn orange in order to preserve flavor. When the fruits turn orange, clip, making sure “button” at the top remains intact.
- Salad Greens
Why They’re Healthy: Salad greens (iceberg, spinach, romaine, red leaf, and arugula) are chock full of vitamins A, C, and K, and contain folate and iron.
How to Grow: Begin by purchasing starter plants or seeds. Choose a planter box that has drainage holes in the bottom and fill with potting soil. Use your finger to poke holes into soil about four inches apart.
If using seeds: Sprinkle a few into each hole, then pat the soil back over the hole to cover.
If using starts: Massage roots before placing each start in hole, filling in with soil.
After planting seeds or starts: Water soil. When plants start to appear, if growing from seed, pull out all but largest, healthiest shoots. Water the soil regularly, making sure that it always remains moist to the touch.
How to Harvest: To harvest mixed greens, pull off only the outer leaves to allow plants to keep growing, and be sure not to disturb roots.
Why They’re Healthy: Scallions are part of the allium family of vegetables, which has been associated with cancer prevention and may help protect the body from free radicals (by-products of cellular processes that can cause cellular damage).
How to Grow: No seeds required! To cultivate scallion crop, simply buy a bunch of scallions, wrap bulbs together with rubber band, and place the whole shebang (greens, bulbs, and all) in a glass with an inch of water. Change water daily. When new green shoots appear and roots have doubled in length (in about seven to 10 days), plant scallions in a shallow pot or container (not too big). Keep the plants evenly watered, don’t let soil get too dry before watering, and in full sun.
How to Harvest: Snip green tops (leaving at least inch or two of plant in dirt) as needed. To use white part of the scallion, harvest the plants when six inches tall. Gently pull white clump from soil. Washed and trimmed scallions should keep for a week in refrigerator. To maximize freshness, wrap in moist paper towel and store in plastic bag.
Why It’s Healthy: This flavorful herb is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties thanks to oil eugenol, which can block enzymes in the body that cause swelling.
How to Grow: Start by purchasing seeds or starter plant. Choose a container that’s at least four inches wide and has good drainage holes. Basil likes warm temperatures and lots of sunlight, at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. Fertilize soil about once a month with organic or slow-release fertilizers. Water often — about once a day when temperatures are really hot, or every other day in less intense conditions. Pruning will also help you maximize your basil yield: When top leaves reach about six inches in height, start pruning. Continue to prune as plant gets bushier, being sure to pinch off any flowers that appear.
How to Harvest: Gently snip a few leaves from each plant, making sure not to remove all the leaves from any one plant.
Why It’s Healthy: Known for calming nausea, motion sickness and reducing inflammation There’s also evidence that raw ginger might ease sore muscles, alleviate symptoms of arthritis, and slow growth of cancer cells.
How to Grow: Simply purchase chunk of ginger at the store and cover with soil in a container, making sure freshest-looking buds face up. Place container in area that receives indirect sunlight and wait for new growth to sprout. Keep soil consistently moist so it never dries out but never waterlogged.
How to Harvest: Pull the entire plant out of soil, cut off as much as you need, and replant ginger using the same process.
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