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Feature Articles: Food, Fitness, and Cooking and Produce


Planning a “Nutrient-Rich” Garden

Karma Metzgar, C.F.C.S. Former Northwest Regional Nutrition Specialist, Nodaway County Extension Center, University of Missouri Extension


Spring has a way of flexing our weather. Snow, sleet, and sunshine - enough to give anyone spring fever.

A garden can be large, small, or simply in containers. There are varieties which are specifically for containers. I’m also interested in the “baby” varieties of vegetables. While they are a novelty, they produce an amount which satisfies the soul of growing and reaping. I’m not too interested in a large garden, but I do like the freshness and variety of vegetables during the summer.

When planning and planting your garden, plant seeds which will produce vegetables which will be rich in nutrients. Since garden seed packets aren’t labeled with nutrient labeling, I’ll share some information from the Vegetable Planting Calendar (G 6201). Here is a listing of different nutrients, followed by the vegetable which provides that nutrient.

Vitamins A and C: Spinach, cantaloupe, and broccoli along with many greens like turnip, kale, collards and mustard.

Vitamin A: Carrots, sweet potatoes, and winter squash.

Vitamin C: Tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, cauliflower, and kohlrabi.

Fiber: Fresh vegetables and fruits are excellent sources of fiber. And while some vegetables don’t measure up on the nutrients, they do when it comes to fiber. This is where our green beans, peas, potatoes, corn, and leaf lettuce come into play.

In addition to planting for nutrients, we need to plant for the “end” use. If you intend to freeze the extra produce, select varieties that have good freezing qualities. The same for canning and pickling. Every summer I field questions about using bountiful produce, which because of the variety, may not be the best for the preservation method that is wanting to be used. Or, often, I’m asked why the canned or frozen produce is soft or an unappealing color - usually due to the variety which was not compatible with the preservation method.

When is the “usually safe date” to plant tomatoes? The Vegetable Planting Calendar says May 15 to 30. By usually safe, it all depends on the weather! The Vegetable Planting Calendar (G6201) is available through your local extension center or viewed at






Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009






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