Top 5 Veggies to grow this Spring

Top5Garden

Spring Planting has started weeks ago in our WKA Garden Green House, but now we’re ready to transplant the last of our goods into two of our community gardens, that will feed our Whole Kids Adventure children, and give fresh seasonal produce to our Hero Fit families.

Growing has truly never been so easy–with seeds in tow, our children set out to plant their favorite veggies for the Spring–long before true Texas Spring emerged. What are your favorite veggies to harvest this spring? What are your Top recipes to make and what healing foods do you plan on putting into your garden?

We took a vote before we chose our veggies for this season. Some kids wanted veggies to juice, some opted for veggies to dry and others wanted veggies they could simply eat just from the vine, such as tomatoes. What are your Top 5?

Here some of our favorites:

Tomatoes (a must, to serve with fresh mozzarella and basil, or blend into a rich tomato soup); did you know that the Marmande series or Beefsteak tomatoes are capable of producing huge tomatoes, if you limit them to one per truss, and no more than two trusses to a plant at the time? Every gardener has their own favorite for sure–we love: Beefsteaks, Heirloom, or the Roma. The Roma series especially are only for cooking and have no true flavor till heated, when they become really tasty. With their higher dry matter they are the best for processing by most means, so you might want to concentrate on growing more of these.

Beets (nothing better than pickled beetroot, fresh beet salad, or dried ‘chips’); Beetroot comes in a range of shapes and even colors. Essentially, chards and spinach beet are the leafier forms of the same plant as beetroot, and indeed the leaves of beetroot can be used as a spinach. For sweet, tender beetroot, sow small batches regularly in a rich moist soil–the only worry is the birds, so keep them off. Pickle beetroot, however small, as they are good. The skins will slip off easily after cooking (we put them on medium heat for 30 minutes, then let them steam for another 20 minutes).

Parsnips (these roots are considered best after frosts have got at them, so are invariably left in the ground until required). Sow them normally early in the Spring–though some varieties can be close sown and used more like carrots and then in small batches. Once they’re mature, leave them standing; sometimes they’ll need protecting against very hard frosts, simply so they can be dug. And if you would like your parsnips early but with a frosted taste, just dig them up, wash and stick them in the freezer overnight wrapped in several newspapers, then let them defrost the day before cooking. Parsnips can be dried; they make good crips and excellent chips; parboil them, chip and part-fry and freeze them to finish off later when required. Parsnips are as sweet as carrots and here a tip for our Parents: they make a nice wine, especially when combined with apricot, peach or fig. Try it!

Carrots (highly nutritious, so good for you and sweet), can be harvested year round. With some simple protection and selected varieties, a few can even grow during the winter months. There is an immense variety, showing many colors and shapes. Even short stumpy ones that are great for classrooms as they can be grown in shallow soils or pots (we put some in mason jars for our kids to “watch ‘em grow”). Carrots need a lot of water (for the smaller forcing ones to be sweet and succulent), but once their roots are down the slower-growing ones can do really well, even in mild droughts. Did you know they love seaweed sprays, and the main pest, the root fly, is simply kept off with fine meshed netting supported over the crop and held to the ground all around.

Spinaches (don’t judge yet–your kids will love them in veggie lasagna, mixed with greens and sweet corn or carrots, or even on top of a healthy pizza!). These are grown just like salad crops, with repeated sowings in rich moist soil, and picked while still young and succulent. You can boil the washed leaves and small stems to a pulp, sieve and freeze in half-full cups or bags. To get cleaner leaves, it is worth panting small cell-grown plants through holes in cardboard or newspaper. There are different spinaches for early and late sowings, and other species for drought conditions.

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