At last, the long cold winter in the East is giving up the ghost, so you folks over yonder have absolutely no excuse not to take notes! Me? I’ve been growing all year, but the weak sun of winter limits my choices to salad greens, beets, kale, broccoli, carrots–all of which are absolutely perfect for juicing and make green smoothies. All the following veggies are from my own garden…no lie! 🙂
Beets are absolutely delicious grown at home, but they require a lot of time to mature. Once they’re ready, they store well in the refrigerator. You best bet is not to grow from seed…it can take 3-5 months. Get the starter plants at the garden center, preferably organic, because when you juice you can use both the beet (root) and the greens. Beets prefer cool days and nights, so right now is perfect to get them before we enter the dog days of summer. You can keep the soil cool during hot days with a layer of compost.
Speaking of compost…
What you see here isn’t just soil…well, it is…but six months ago it was lemon peels, carrots shavings, coffee grounds, egg shells, pulled up tomato and cucumber vines and alfalfa grass. Every organic, non-meat thing that was processed in our kitchen went into our compost bin. All that rotten stuff degraded until it became this…cool, sweet smelling, worm filled compost, which is an organic gardener’s best friend. It reduces waste, fertilizes your new plants, protects them from disease and is the world’s greatest mulch. Watching my compost pile become a useable fertilizer has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve experienced as a gardener. What is old and rotted becomes new again, to feed and help new things thrive. It’s that whole “circle of life” thing. Consider starting your own compost pile this season. In a year you’ll have what master gardeners call “black gold.”
Celery has been really fun to grow, and once it gets going…boy does it go! If you look closely at my crop, you’ll notice that the base of these plants are narrow. That’s because when you grow your own, you can cut away the stalks you need and leave the rest to grow and stay fresh. No more wilted celery looking sad in the fridge. The entire celery can be juiced, leaves included.
Carrots are by far one of my favorite vegetables to grow. One seed pack can get you 50-100 carrots, and they are so unfussy and low maintenance. Carrots like lose, slightly sandy soil so you might need to amend with perlite and sand if you have hard clay soil. Better yet, build yourself a raised bed so you have 100% control of the soil composition. Carrots are an absolute staple for juicing, and nothing is more fun than pulling out what you need and leaving the rest until next time!
A variety of greens
Leafy greens work to detoxify the liver, and are full of essential vitamins. I like grabbing a handful from this bunch and throwing it in at the end. Swiss chard is especially good for juicing because it has a stem with a high water content. These are relatively easy to grow, but beware…aphids are a constant battle.