Garden for your health

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A NOVELTY: The ripening ‘Buddha Hand’ lemon.

DAILY readers of newspapers and magazines are bombarded by persuasive advertisements and articles pushing us towards buying and eating unnatural manufactured vitamin tablets to supplement vitamin deficient diets.

But stop for a moment and think, would it be better to eat the vitamins as nature intended them by growing and eating fruit and vegetables that are known to contain the main vitamins we apparently need for continuous good health or for recovery if ill. Interestingly the labels on some bottles of vitamin pills include the note ‘Not intended as a substitute for a balanced diet.’

Further health authorities worldwide now recommend that we eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day for their vitamin and mineral contents, and some emphasise that these are best if fresh and grown ecologically/organically without the use of chemical fertilisers, insecticide, fungicides and weed killers.

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The Slow Food movement recommends to try and eat local produce to sustain the local economy and cut down the cost of distribution, marketing and packing houses. Something much needed in many valleys in Spain which a couple of decades ago were more than self -sufficient, but are now abandoned wastelands, new self-seeded pine forests or large urbanisations.

So with the need for little space and our free Spanish sun, we can grow our own in containers on apartment terraces, in raised beds in small gardens, in the garden or if convenient, in allotments. The advantages are that you can focus on growing fruits and vegetables with the greatest beneficial vitamin and mineral contents, and harvest each day what is required for that day.

To help you understand which vitamins minerals etc, are of benefit to your wellness and which vegetables and fruits include them, we include descriptive tables in our book ‘Living well from our garden – Mediterranean style’ which is available from Amazon Books and The Book Depository.

If any social or gardening club is interested in a talk or workshop on the topic I would love to support you. Whatever you select to grow ensure you include antioxidant and anti-inflammatory vitamin/mineral rich foods. We ensure we grow and eat plenty of dark green acelga and spinach leaves, sprouting broccoli, tomatoes, nasturtium flowers and leaves, garlic, onions, rocket, tomatoes, radishes, beetroots and carrots.

As for fruit, in the Mediterranean climate one can harvest something on every day of the year to give seasonal diversity. Just a few citrus trees, vitamin C packed mandarins, and oranges can be harvested from September to May and from a perpetually flowering and fruiting Lunar lemon tree lemons can be harvested 365 days a year.

Also it is possible to have fun and health by adding the novelty Citrus medica var.sarcodactylis lemon tree to your plantings. The common name is Buddha’s hand as it resembles a half open fist – some fruits have even more and longer thinner fingers. There is little if any juicy centre but the thick skins are excellent for grating.

The quality results in individual fruits being sold in Florida and California for up to 12 dollars if sprayed with chemicals and 25 dollars if grown ecologically.

© Dick Handscombe May 2016.

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