Have a Plant: Fruits & Veggies for Better Health

Insider's Viewpoint: Expert Supermarket Advice: 4 Steps to Your Vegetable Garden. Andrea Samson, Big Y Foods, Inc. Fruits And Veggies More Matters.org

Growing up, my father and grandfather always competed over who had the “better” vegetable garden. Whether my grandfather grew the biggest tomato or my father had sweeter summer squash, it was the kind of friendly rivalry even I could appreciate as a young girl. It really didn’t matter who had the better garden to me, all the veggies they picked tasted so good.

While no one in my family gardens anymore, I hope to revitalize the family tradition by planting my own vegetable garden this month. There’s no better way to get nutrient-packed veggies all summer long and now’s the time to get started!

Never planted a garden? Have no fear! If you’re a novice, like me, here are some tips to help yield a bountiful harvest all summer long …

Step #1 – Decide what you want to plant. There’s no need to create a massive garden to grow all your favorite vegetables. Simply plant a handful of varieties you eat most often and shop for the rest at your local grocery store. Much of the seasonal produce they offer comes from local farmers, so you can feel good about supporting local agriculture, too.

Step #2 – Choose an area for your garden. Make sure the spot you pick gets ample direct sunlight (roughly six hours worth) during the day. Remember to leave plenty of extra room for vine plants like tomatoes, summer squash and cucumbers – or plant them along the edges of your garden so they can grow onto your yard if need be.

Step #3 – Pick up your materials. You can begin your garden from seeds or starter plants. When purchasing soil, decide whether you want organic or conventional. Many organic soils are available at similar price points of conventional soil. Raised vegetable garden beds are also available for purchase and skip the need to prepare and dig out your own yards’ soil. And don’t forget small essentials like garden gloves, plant supports (like a trellis or stake) for vine plants and gardening tools.

Step #4 – Get Planting! Follow the directions on your vegetable seeds or starter plants and have fun digging away. With a little water, sun and TLC you’ll have a bountiful garden to help fill your plate with color and nutrition all summer long. For more information on gardening, visit the National Garden Association at garden.org.


Mom’s Grilled Summer Squash
This is a quintessential summer must-have for my family; we’ve been making it for as long as I can remember. For added nutrient punch, use a mixture of yellow and green summer squash.

  1. Wash squash well, cut off ends and slice squash in half lengthwise.
  2. Apply a light coating of heart-healthy buttery spread over each half.
  3. Sprinkle each half with paprika, onion flakes, garlic powder and ground black pepper.
  4. Put squash halves together and wrap well with aluminum foil.
  5. Cook on pre-heated grill, 40 minutes or until tender, turning halfway through cooking time.

Related Links
The Vegetable Garden How-To Guide
Kids in the Garden

Andrea Samson, RD, LDN
Registered Dietitian
Big Y Foods, Inc.

Fruit & Vegetable Recipes
Video Center: Selection, Storage, and Preparation of Fruits & Vegetables.

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