Greens are packed with tons of minerals - a very smart addition towards a well-balanced diet. However, have you thought about how healthy the greens available in our markets are? Not at all healthy! Common greens like spinach, celery, and lettuce are listed as one of the “Dirty Dozen” foods of the world. This means that they have the most toxic chemicals on their surfaces. Unfortunately, with greens, you can't peel them to remove the toxic exterior, like fruits and some vegetables.
However, on a positive note, greens are too easy to grow and take less space in your garden from where you can get an endless supply of healthy, homegrown fresh greens throughout the year.
Palak, amaranthus, chakkotha, methi, coriander, mint, lettuce, celery, spring onion, and drumstick leaves are some of the greens and herbs which you can grow easily at home. Firstly, choose a container. Don’t spend money on a new container, try and use throwaway, reusable containers like plastic buckets, tins, sacks, old bags, and polythene covers. Make a hole in the bottom for drainage and fill in the growing media. The growing media is a combination of red soil, sand, and compost in equal proportions. Plant the seeds and water them regularly. It will give you a continuous supply of the freshest homegrown greens.
Of the greens mentioned above, palak, amaranthus, chakkotha, methi and lettuce can be grown through direct sowing. Celery needs transplanting. Put the seeds in small containers and replathem it in a bigger container after a month. For the onion, place the bulbs in a container with soil media and it will give new shoots after 20-25 days. Cut the shoots and leave the bulb and you could get 4-5 cuttings from a single plant. Moringa/drumstick grows through seeds and cuttings. Moringa leaves contain lots of minerals that are rarely available in other greens.
Amaranthus, chakkotha and methi are ready to be harvested after 30 days. Harvest the entire plant and put new seeds for the next crop. Palak will give you the first yield after 30-35 days. After the first harvest, 20 days later new leaves are ready to be harvested again. You could get 4-6 yields from a single planting. Celery can yield up to 10 months. Harvest the outer stalks and leave the tender ones behind to grow into adult leaves. Moringa is a perennial plant and can yield for many years. You will have to prune the branches after every harvest.
We often throw away the green tops of radishes and, carrots and beetroots. However, they are actually several times more nutritious than their roots. So add them to your regular cooking and you’ll add that special extra nutrition to your body. So, that’s one more new recipe in your menu to make your diet balanced and healthy.
Start growing your favorite greens and make your family healthier.
Dr. Vandana K.