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Juice Gardening

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Juice It Up!

Juicing is a relatively new health trend gaining popularity throughout the U.S. But why? Haven’t we always drank juice?

Turns out, the difference between the apple juice you find in the grocery store and the juice that comes from a juicer is great. Juicing your own fruits and vegetables allows you to closely monitor what goes into your drink, giving you more control over what you put into your body. Many juicers forgo adding sugar and enjoy the fact that they are not gulping down artificial sweeteners or dyes.

Fresh, wholesome ingredients are the basis of the amazing health benefits that come with juicing. Using ingredients such as kale, spinach, carrots, apples, beets, and other fruits and vegetables ensures that important antioxidants, vitamins, and other nutrients are quickly and easily absorbed during digestion. In fact, many people use juicing as a method of detoxification, which can aid in weight loss, boost the immune system and increase energy levels.

The only downside to juicing is that paying for all the ingredients can really add up (2 bunches of spinach only makes half a cup of juice). For this reason, growing your own juice ingredients can save you money in the long run. Moreover, you can avoid harmful pesticides and fertilizers, making your juice as fresh and organic as possible.

We have gathered a list of popular fruits and veggies that will taste great in your juice or smoothie or will otherwise taste great in a salad or in your favorite recipes. Use it or juice it!

Popular Juicing Ingredients

Leafy greens- juices made with leafy greens are high in chlorophyll which acts as a natural detoxification agent in the body. Even better, they are packed with antioxidants and fiber, and are rich in vitamins and nutrients that will get your body feeling good and looking good too.

  • Spinach- thrives in cool weather, so plant during the late winter or fall. Does best in nitrogen rich, loose, moist soil.
  • Kale- considered a cold-weather crop, but will survive in mild heat. Plant where it will receive the most sun exposure possible. Grows well in loamy, neutral or basic soil.
  • Collard Greens- does well in the heat but will also be resilient against frosts, so plant in early spring or midsummer. Needs well drained, fertile soil. Loves the sun but will tolerate some shade.
  • Swiss Chard- likes the shade with moderate exposure to the sun. Does best in loose soil with a neutral pH that is kept moist. Will survive light frosts.

Other vegetables­- the following veggies are amongst the most popular in terms of flavor and availability. They are also firm vegetables, which means they will not clog your juicer. Of course, this is where you can be creative and experiment with different ingredients based on personal preferences and what grows well in your region.

  • Cucumber- give your cucumbers plenty of moisture in well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Likes warm conditions, but excessive heat could be harmful. Plant where it will receive partial shade during the hottest part of the day. Cucumber juice is extraordinarily refreshing.
  • Carrots- be sure soil is deeply loose, well drained, and free of rocks. Keep soil moist and make sure to frequently check for weeds. Plant a few weeks before the last spring frost. Adds delicious sweetness to juices.
  • Celery- likes the cool weather, grown in the fall in most regions. Start seeds indoors about 8 weeks before the last frost of spring. Does best in slightly acidic, deeply loose, nutrient rich soil.
  • Beets- do well with high levels of phosphorus, but too much nitrogen will be harmful. Maintain plenty of moisture and make sure soil is well drained. Expose beets to plenty of sunlight.
  • Red Pepper- will require at least 6 hours of sunlight a day and about 1 inch of water weekly. Thrives in well-drained, fertile soil.

Herbs- For ages herbs have been regarded for their healing or medicinal properties. Not only do they have amazing cleansing, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, they add exciting flavors to juices and smoothies.

  • Cilantro- loves the sun and moist soil. Can be harvested in as little as 3 weeks. A gardener’s favorite.
  • Basil- this plant needs sun and warmth. Do not plant outside until the last spring frost has passed. Water liberally, especially during the warmest months of summer.
  • Mint- so easy to grow it might get away from you. Consider growing mint in a pot so that it does not overtake your veggie garden. Loves fertile soil with a pH between 6 and 7.

Fruits- growing fruit trees, berry bushes and other fruit-bearing plants may not seem important at the time, but when in a few years when they finally start bearing fruit it will all be worth it. Plant what works best in your climate and be patient! Apples are favored among juicers for their firm structure and great tasting juice. However, if patience isn’t your thing, plant melons such as watermelon and cantaloupe in the meantime. These fresh, juicy fruits will add natural sweetness to your juice or smoothies and will be super refreshing on a hot summer day.

  • Apples- there are a lot of considerations to take into account when choosing an apple tree for your yard or garden. Consult with your local nursery to discover which varieties work best in your region. Some 1-year-old dwarf varieties from the nursery will bear fruit in as little as three years. Thin the fruit as frequently as possible to avoid limbs breaking under excess weight and to enjoy a larger, healthier fruit crop.
  • Watermelon- wait until weather reaches the 70s to sow the seeds. Make sure soil drains well and that the vines will get at least 6 hours of sun a day. Watermelon soak up lots of nutrients, so make sure to compost before sowing. Water regularly.
  • Cantaloupe- thrives in moist, loose soil. Much like watermelons, they need lots of sun, nutrients and water for a successful harvest.

Photos:

Beet Juice: freshtopia.net, CC BY-SA 2.0