Beautiful Nutrient Rich Veggie and Flower Garden

Earlier in the year we wrote an article, “What To Grow In a Garden“. We discussed how gardening encourages people to engage in other much healthier behaviors and activities that promotes health and wellness, because you’re actually feeling better with more energy and stamina from consuming fresh, organically-grown, nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables than non-gardeners. Another huge advantage of growing your own Backyard Garden Design, is you have the control in the selection of the variety of plants, the species, such as heirloom varities, whether they’re organic or not, or non-genetically modified (Non-GM) or not, etc.

The fact that you selected certified organic non-GMs seedlings and seeds, not only did it reduce you and your family’s exposure to harmful chemicals and pesticides, it also provided produce with a higher nutrient-dense content, as per this Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health study. On the subject of GMs versus non-GMs, that’s pretty much open for debate, according to recent research.

A recent University of Rochester study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, done earlier this year, found that while genetically modified organisms (GMs) are considered safe by an overwhelming majority of scientists, as confirmed by a Harvard Education research, only about one third of consumers share that view, and, so you’ll know, we’re in the two-thirds that don’t share that view.

A team of psychologists and biologists set out to discover if consumers’ attitudes would change if the public understood the underlying science better. The short answer is ‘yes,’ once consumers are informed on the benefits of GMs, according to the study. On the positive side, the study states,

GMs makes crops better, more resilient, and more profitable and easier for farmers to grow, so that we can provide more crops around the world.

However, critics of GM foods and the majority of consumers have been vocal, often decrying it as “unnatural” or “Frankenfood.” So, which is it? At this stage, we have to say, it comes down to a matter of personal choice. Our personal choice is to avoid GMs foods and in our own personal garden, to plant heirloom varieties, or non-GMs, as nature intended. That’s our position.

Planting Veggies In Nature Helps Fight Depression

The most important benefits of personal gardening is it encourages healthy, positive  behavioral changes in physical activity and improves mental health, besides getting more moderate-intensity exercise, which can help people live longer lives.

Sciencedirect conducted a study on benefits on gardening and concluded that governments and health organization should consider gardening as a beneficial intervention and encourage people to participate for their optimum physical and mental well being.

Our meta-analysis has provided robust evidence for the positive effects of gardening on health. The results presented here suggest that gardening can improve physical, psychological, and social health, which can, from a long-term perspective, alleviate and prevent various health issues facing today’s society.

Have you thought about starting a garden?  With all those good reasons to garden, what are you waiting for?  In this article we are pleased to offer our Backyard Garden Design, and not only discuss the “how’s”, “where”, “when’s” and “what’s” of gardening, but also how you will actually relieve chronic stress when gardening. The National Institutes Of Health (NIH) confirmed that gardening relieves chronic stress in their study.

How To Establish A Garden. We will provide a proven plan for your healthy nutritious garden, including how to determine the best location on your property, choosing your design, deciding on a feasible size, and how to make compost.

What Will Your Garden Grow? You will have to decide if you want a fabulous, nutritious-rich garden of vegetables, fruits, and edible flowers and seeds, a beautifully landscaped floral paradise, or a combination of both, because both will provide you the pleasure of the ceaseless wonders and bounties of nature. One of my favorite quotes on nature is from Anne Frank, from the Diary Of A Young Girl……

Healthy Nutrient Dense Veggie Garden

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.

Factors To Establishing A Garden

tDirect or Indirect Sunlight. Virtually all plants require a few basic ingredients. Plants are pretty magical, as they harness energy from the sun and, through photosynthesis, convert that energy into their tissues. Because plants need the sun to grow, many plants, including most fruits and veggies, need a good amount of Sun, around six hours during the day, according to a Kansas State study.

According to a 2017 study published in Current Biology, plants, broadly speaking, fall into in to two categories depending on their response to shading by leaves, which are  “shade tolerant” or “shade avoiding.”  Another important factor is the time of day and the position of the sun determines the exposure, heat, and intensity of the sun, and influences positioning of planting positions in smaller areas, in relation to sun intensities requirements such as “full sun”, “part sun”, “full shade” or “part-shade”.

For example, depending on the variety of plant, morning sun may be more beneficial than afternoon sun, or vice vesa, and that information is typically provided on the plant labeling? Having an understanding of integration of light cues with other important variables, is vitally important, by comparing ecotypes and species with different responses to shade cues, found the study.

Raised Bed Healthy Nutrient-Dense Fall Veggie Garden

Sufficient Rain and Moisture. Plants also need water, and it’s often the amount of water that’s available that will keep plants from wilting up in the summer sun and heat. How much you need to water plants will depend on a few things. Hotter and drier air will pull moisture from plants and soils more quickly, so more watering will be necessary as the temperatures go up.

The type of soil you have in your garden will also affect how much water is available to plants, according to a Penn State University study. Simply put, soils which are coarser in nature with bigger particles and wider spaces between particles, have a higher water infiltration rate than fine soils and are better.

A good rule of thumb is that plants should receive enough water to cover the ground with an inch of water each week. And, it’s better for plants to get all the water one or two times per week rather than a small amount each day. In many places, it may be necessary to water your garden regularly in order to keep plants happy.

A good reference on management practices on irrigating vegetable plants is the Rutgers Cooperate Extension Program. Of course, rainwater is the best water source because it includes some nitrates and some organic matter, is a “soft water” free of salts and chemicals found in tap water, and usually the pH of rainwater is on the slightly acid side, per an NIH review, which is beneficial for vegetable grown in your garden since they like a slightly acidic soil.

Supported by an NIH study,rainwater capturing systems, which found them to be an efficient and economical way of conserving water, rainwater can be transferred from your roof to your garden through the system comprised of gutters, downspouts, and connected rain barrels, with tubing from barrels running in to your garden. A rainbarrel system is a great option for capturing large volumes of rainwater in a conserving manner and diverting it to your garden.

These systems are becoming very popular, according to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), and using a simple device called a “first flush diverter” to remove the first water that comes out of the system may help avoid some of the possible contaminants from your roof, if that’s a concern. Clemson Cooperative Extension has a great article on these rainwater collection systems.

Healthy Nutrient Dense Raised Bed Garden

It’s very important to always consider your water sources. Is your water convenient? If your source is not close to the area where you’ll be gardening, it will be important to figure out a system for transporting water to your garden. Mulching around your plants is also advisable because not only will it conserve water, but will also increase yield in your garden, according to the Georgia Department of Agriculture. The benefits of mulching are many and shredded leaves make the best mulch because they are readily available and can be turned into great organic compost.

Besides the intended benefit of conserving moisture, mulching also prevents the soil drying out as quickly particularly in hot conditions, suppresses unwanted weed growth, acts as a barrier which keeps fruit off the ground preventing rot, reduces labor by reducing cultivation, promotes stronger root growth and healthier plants, acts as an insulator by keeping the soil cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, and last, but definitely not least, mulch can be tilled in as natural organic matter enriching the soil at the end of the growing season.

Organic Nutrient-Rich Soil. Plants need nutrients in order to grow healthy and strong, and those same nutrients are passed on to you when we eat plants for food. In particular, plants need nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, according to Wikipedia. These nutrients can either be derived from the soil, or will need to be manually added.

Garden soils can be tested to find out whether it has a good pH and sufficient nutrients to support plant growth. If the soil isn’t ideal for growing plants, you will need to supplement it with organic fertilizers, but, preferably, naturally-made composted material.  We can’t stress enough, for your health and well being, the importance of using certified-ORGANIC additives, and fertilizers in your garden. Absolutely no chemical additives, fertilizers, or pesticides, should get within a 100 feet of your garden.

A 2015 study published in the journal of Forest Science and Technology found that organic manure is just as effective in providing nutrients to soil as NPK (nitrogen-potassium-phosphorus) fertilizer and safer. According to Occupational Health and Safety, damage caused by chemical fertilizers is often long-term and cumulative, it may be wiser to consider alternative and sustainable methods of fertilizing the soil.

Black Gold Nutrient Rich Compost

One example of chemical fertilizers and it’s harmful effects on the environment, particularly water pollution, is it creates “dead zones” in lakes or ponds from runoffs which is toxic to fish and animals. Chemical nitrogen-based fertilizers also create ” other greenhouse gases” which pollute our air and make it unsafe. For more information on pollution in out environment read these 2 articles: Solutions In Water Pollution and Solutions Of Air Pollution.

According to many studies, like a NIH study, current agricultural practices are based on the wide overuse of chemical pesticides that have been associated with negative impacts on human health, wildlife, and natural environment. A 2012 Frontiers study also found that commercial pesticides are not as safe as they seem! Quoting the study:

The review suggests that new regulations are needed to protect people and the environment from toxic pesticide ingredients.

There are natural organic-based deterrents and home-based remedies for repelling insects, too. So, no synthetic pesticides should be used, because they will kill good insects, as well!

Yes, there are friendly insects you want in your garden, such as lacewings, lady bugs, praying mantis, wolf spiders, ground beetles, hover flies (looks like a small yellow jacket but no sting), and brachonoid wasps because they kill or suppress other destructive insects in your garden. Of coarse, honey bees and bumble bees you definitely want for cross-pollination.

Here’s a great tip on honey bees. If you want bees around your garden, and you obviously do, for cross-pollinating your fruits and veggie plants, you need to attract them by planting flowers such as cornflower, sunflowers, milkweed, and zinnias. Flowers will also attract butterflies and birds. The USDA has a great article on habitat development for attracting beneficial insects for pest management in your garden. Leave us a note in the comment section below, and we’ll be happy to send you our favorite formula of all-natural ingredients for deterring harmful pests.

Bees Attracting Perennials Delphiniums and Cosmos Flowers

Build A Nutrient-Rich Compost. For building a fast-compost pile, do the following: Choose an out-of-the-way area that gets direct sunlight for your compost pile, or use a large capacity compost bin. Place coarse material such as branches, twigs, and stalks on bottom at least one-foot high, which helps with air circulation through the pile when it’s cooking.

Alternate moist green materials such as kitchen scraps (no meats or fats), coffee grounds, used tea bags, grass clippings, dryer lint, and hair clippings, and dry materials such as leaves, dead plants, etc., in 3 inch layers, up to 5 or 6 feet high, and mix up.

As a rule of thumb, vegetables like a slightly acidic soil with a pH of 5.5 to 7. Add nitrogen-rich activator, or dried cow manure, if you can locate from a cattle farm. Another good additive is shredded and soaked newspaper and corrugated cardboard, as food for worms and microbes to keep them happy because having them in your compost is healthy, particularly for regulating nutrients and represses plant diseases, per Cornell Education. Using a spray nozzle moisten between each layer as you go. Cover top of pile with layer of finished compost or soil and clear plastic sheeting to help build up heat for decomposition.

Turn pile every 7 to 10 days and re-moisten if needed, and in two to three months, you’ll have the blackest (black gold), richest, sweet-smelling compost you’ve ever seen. Here is a quick video by CaliKim walking you through the process of making a easy hot compost pile (1).

Planting and Design. Gardens come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s just a matter of figuring out what will work for you. Community gardens provide another great alternative if your gardening space is limited or if you’re looking for a more social gardening scene. If you’re growing plants outdoors, try to choose a spot that optimizes all those things that plants need, such as light, water, nutrients, and good soils.

You can choose to grow plants directly in the soil, which is an easy and affordable option, if you are fortunate enough to have fertile topsoil, or, to build raised beds, which conserves space, or to grow plants in containers. Raised beds, which are basically large wooden boxes (non-treated lumber) filled with soil, are often six to 24 inches off the ground; ideally 12 inches deep is fine.

Raised Bed Nutritious Veggie Garden

These raised-beds can be very productive, but it will cost additional money to build the frames for beds (2). Remove the existing topsoil where beds will be and bring in a couple of pickup truck loads of natural river-bottom topsoil, which you can find and buy locally, or purchase bagged certified-organic soil.  Mix your topsoil with the river-bottom soil, or bagged soil, and fill your raised beds.

For smaller spaces or starter gardens, containers are a fantastic way to go because they provide so much flexibility. Watering is especially critical for containers because they dry out faster than garden beds. Luckily, these gardens are often pretty small so watering only takes a few minutes.

Reason For Garden. In planning your garden, there specific things you have to think about, such as what type of plants are you excited about growing? Many people are interested in growing their own food, but others may be interested in simply beautifying their decks or yards. If you are growing plants for food, what do you like to cook and eat the most?

Grow things that are so delicious to you, and they may not even make it into the house! But, also you should give serious consideration to the nutritional value of the food you grow, such as growing the fruits, nuts, seeds, and veggies found in the Mediterranean Diet.

And don’t forget to consider how space and light is available for your garden, effecting the positioning of your garden, as we outlined above. Another question you should answer, how much time are you willing to commit to starting and maintaining your garden? To have a successful productive garden plants require regular care, so be realistic about how much time you’ll be willing to spend in maintenance such as weeding, watering, and so on.

One important note on weeding. One huge advantage of using raised-beds, is you cut down on the growth of natural and annoying weeds. It’s generally a good idea to start small and learn the ropes before taking on a huge commitment. If you love it, you can scale up from there.

What Will you grow in your backyard garden design?

Healthy, Nutrient-Dense Organic Fresh Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts, and Seeds. Be sure to select the most nutrient-dense vegetables to grow in your garden. Not all are created equal!

Beautiful Nutritious Raised Bed Veggie Garden

There are organic non-GMO vegetable varieties, bred specifically for better health, from tomatoes to carrots to zucchini. Bring good taste and good health and well being to your garden and table! We all want to provide our families with the most nutritious meals we can and if you are growing your own produce you definitely are eating the freshest possible produce you can get your hands on.

And remember, one way to increase the nutritional content of what you grow this summer is to grow strictly organic, as per the Harvard T H Chan study. Pay attention to your soil by checking pH and be sure that you are replacing all important trace minerals, by using ample amounts of fresh compost that you created!

Another way is to grow older varieties or heirlooms that have been bred to have higher levels of micro-nutrients and phytonutrients phytocides). What’s that you ask? Phytonutrients are plant chemicals that protect the plants from insects, disease, drought, fungus, and other forms of adversity, and are transferred to humans when the plants are eaten. According to a NIH study, phytonutrients have specific biological activity that support human health. Quoting the NIH study….

They play specific pharmacological effects in human health such as anti-microbial, anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-spasmodic, anti-cancer, anti-aging…..

The state of Missouri Extension Program has a very informative quick-reference Nutrition site providing information on plant phytonutrients and antioxidants.

Some of fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds, like the ones high in antioxidants, those with anti-inflammatory properties, or high in omega-3 fatty acids, or essential amino acids and folates, have been found to help humans weather adversity as well by strengthening our immune systems, protecting us from cancer, warding off heart disease, lowering cholesterol, and supporting healthy vision, just to name a few. According to a Harvard Medical School study, fruits, vegetables, and other foods high in micro-nutrients, is one of the most important things you can do to strengthen your immune system.

Healthy Anti Oxidant Veggies Fruits Nuts Seeds

Several universities around the country have plant breeding programs that are looking at ways to increase the healthy antioxidants and other micro-nutrients in different vegetables. Natural ripening increases the amount of phytonutrients in any vegetable and makes them more readily absorbed, which is just another good reason to grow your own instead of relying on commercial produce, which is picked green before being shipped to your store, and not as nutritious. Quoting a Harvard Medical School article:

Vegetables that ripen in the garden have more nutrients than some store-bought vegetables that must be picked early.

Nutrient-Dense Foods High In Micronutrients

High Antioxidant Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts, and Seeds. Damaging molecules in your body, called free radicals, are produced, as both a byproduct of normal body waste function, and a result of environmental exposures from harmful invaders such as pollution, and radiation. Free radicals can damage cells and cause havoc and dysfunction within your body. A balanced diet containing antioxidants, such as lycopene and beta carotene, significantly reduce the damaging effects of free radicals, by repairing cell damage.

In strengthening the immune system, antioxidants supports your body in growth and repair. Lycopene lowers cholesterol and blood pressure. Beta carotene protects against heart disease, viral infections, cataracts, and cancer. Lutein, found in leeks, lettuce, and kale, is a great vision protector, preventing cataracts and macular degeneration. Sources of antioxidants are vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.

Vitamin C–fruits and veggies high in Vitamin C are oranges, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, peppers, and tomatoes.

High Micronutrient Dense Healthy Foods

Vitamin E–nuts, oils, and veggies high in vitamin E are almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, peanuts, sunflowers seeds, vegetable oil, spinach, tomatoes, and kiwi.

Zinc– veggies, seeds, high in zinc are sesame seeds, pumpkin, crimini mushrooms, and spinach.

Beta-Carotene–fruits and veggies high in beta-carotene are pumpkin, sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, broccoli, apricots, red cabbage, and cantaloupe.

Selenium-veggies, nuts, high in selenium are brazil nuts, beans, legumes, whole grains, crimini mushrooms.

Vitamin B6-sources high in B 6 are bananas and potatoes.

Magnesium-veggies, fruits, seeds, and nuts high in magnesium are black beans, chickpeas, soy beans, green peas, spinach, swiss chard, tofu, dates, figs, almonds, brazil nuts, peanuts, and sunflower seeds.

Others high in antioxidants include prunes, blackberries, plums, beets, kale, goji, grapes, artichokes, cauliflower, figs, cherries, red delicious apples, and pomegranates.

Healthy Anti-Inflammatory Veggies Fruits Nuts Seeds

High Anti-Inflammatory Vegetables, Nuts, and Seeds. Your immune system becomes activated when your body recognizes anything that is foreign and invading, and it triggers the defensive process of inflammation, to destroy the invaders. However, sometimes inflammation develops and persists on its own, from some imbalance, and becomes your enemy.

Many major diseases that plague humans, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s, have been directly linked to inflammation.

Plants with anti-inflammatory properties promote hearth health, fight viral diseases, and support good cognitive function. Latest research is confirming what we eat is the main contributor to excessive and persistent inflammation in our bodies. Best anti-inflammatory foods are also rich in all the micro-nutrients including essential amino acids, antioxidants, omega 3s, and vitamins and minerals (folate).

As suggested in the Harvard study above, to reduce the potential of inflammation in your body, reduce the consumption of high inflammatory-causing foods, such as fried foods, sodas and high-sugar drinks, reprocessed foods, fast foods, refined carbs such as white bread and white rice, saturated animal fats like lard, shortening, and margarine, processed meats and fatty grain-fed meats. The NIH also warns of the consumption of processed foods and link to cancer.

Foods that combat inflammation are tomatoes, olives and olive oil, mushrooms, peppers, and broccoli, green leafy veggies, especially dark-green leafy veggies like kale, turnip greens, collards, and spinach, nuts like walnuts, pecans, and almonds. Fruits like strawberries, blueberries, cherries, grapes, pineapple, and oranges.

Healthy High Omega 3s Veggies Fruits Nuts Seeds

High Omega-3 Fatty Acid Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts, and Seeds. Consuming high omega-3 foods may also reduce inflammation, alleviating fatigue, and improve concentration and mental clarity. Omegs-3s are important for many bodily functions, including your brain, eyes, and nervous system, and most likely your mood.

According to the NIH Fact Sheet, food sources for omega 3s are flax seeds, peanuts, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, pecans, and walnuts. Other sources are, avocados, cloves, romaine lettuce, kale, spinach, Brussel sprouts, navy beans, edamame beans, kidney beans, lentils, basil, broccoli, cauliflower, tofu, soy beans, summer and winter squash, and any dark green leafy veggies.

High Folate Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts, and Seeds. Folic acid, also referred to as a folate, is a B-complex vitamin that has very important roles. Its most notable role is in preventing pregnancy and neutral tube defects, but it also aids in proper red blood cell formation and development, cell growth, and supporting your nervous system. Due to its relationship to the nervous system, a folate deficiency or a diet low in folate is associated with depression irritability, mental fatigue, and insomnia, as per this NIH folate study.
Excellent sources of folates and other vitamins and minerals, are spinach, asparagus, romaine, mustard greens, collard greens, broccoli, beets, lentils, parsley, cauliflower, summer squash, bell peppers, green beans, tomatoes, peas, Brussels sprouts, black beans, kidney beans, strawberries, papaya, and fennel.

More Information and Sources For Nutrient-Dense Fall Veggies

If for some reason, you decide not to implement your Backyard Garden Design, or not take up gardening at all, you will still want to find a good reliable source for fresh nutrient-dense organic non-GMO winter vegetables and in the spring and summer, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Use these links for more information, documented studies, and to purchase fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds (A): fresh organic fruits, vegetables, raw nuts, and seeds.

Healthy Nutrient-Dense Mediterranean Diet Ingredients

Incredible Sources For Nutrient-Dense Meats and Fish

We assume you don’t raise your own farm animals either, so you will need a reliable source for fresh meats, fish, and other nutrient-dense foods, as well. Use the links below for more information, documented studies, and to purchase a wide-range of nutrient-dense meats, fish, whole grains, fermented foods, herbs and spices, and antioxidant drinks. The U.S. Government 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines recommends that people should aim to meet their nutrient requirements through a healthy eating pattern that includes nutrient-dense forms of foods.

Nutrient-dense foods are low in calories but are also high in other micronutrients. Here are the nutrient-dense foods we recommend for a lifetime of wellness: grass-fed finished lean meats, fresh, organic, free-range finished poultry, grass-fed finished dairy and eggs (A); fresh cold-water or wild-caught fish and seafood (A); and organic whole grains and complex carbohydrates, natural fermented foods, monounsaturated oils like extra virgin olive oil, fresh organic herbs and spices, and antioxidant drinks, infused water, naturally fermented red wine and beer, and fruit and veggie smoothies (A). And, reward yourself with a piece of dark chocolate. Now, we didn’t say milk chocolate.

No Peruvian Maca In Your Garden. Unfortunately, according to the NIH, one of the most nutrient-dense, whole-food, super food, Adaptogen Peruvian Maca, is the one vegetable you will not be able to plant in your garden now or any time in the foreseeable future. Peruvian Maca, native to Peru and the high Andes Mountains, can not be exported, at least legally, in it’s whole root form or its seeds outside of Peru, per the Peruvian Government.

Peruvian Maca is considered a Heritage Plant of Peru. So, there is no way to legally plant Peruvian Maca outside of Peru. However, Peruvian Maca, is available as a supplement in fresh dried chunks, and powder, which is the next best thing. Why do you need to supplement with Peruvian Maca, besides starting your own nutritious-rich garden? Read the following reviews and you will have the answer.

What Is In Maca Root?” (A)

Healthy Nutrient-Dense Peruvian Maca

Maca Powder Health Benefits” (A)

Benefits In Maca” (A)

We hope you found our Backyard Garden Design article informative and you seriously consider having your own personal nutritious-rich garden, which will benefit you and your family health-wise in so many different ways for years to come. If you want to be able to walk out into your garden by the first of June, and pick a fresh, tender, sweet ear of Silver Queen white corn, you need to start planning your garden NOW! What are your questions? Any comments will certainly be appreciated too.

You might enjoy reading this article too: What To Plant In Fall Garden.

(1) CaliKim29 Garden & Home DIY Video
(2) The Crafty Gemini Video


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(A) Use these links for additional information, more documented studies, and to purchase any of these nutrient-dense foods for the benefit of your overall optimum health and well being.