I’ll be harvesting leaves from this Romaine lettuce next week. (Mary Lowther photo)

I’ll be harvesting leaves from this Romaine lettuce next week. (Mary Lowther photo)

Mary Lowther column: Fresh garden veggies full of nutrients

Take folic acid, for example.

By Mary Lowther

Big time garden season draws near and we’ll soon be mucking about among the beds. Garden detritus, vegetable scraps, manure and soft rock phosphate have been feeding organisms that have turned the compost heap into black gold. Instead of using chemical fertilizers and pesticides that don’t add trace minerals or life forms or build up the soil, this compost plus a fertilizer replete with trace minerals will continue to feed present and future robust crops resistant to disease.

Soft rock phosphate takes some time to become available to plants, so I layer it with clay in the heap the year before and by spring, it’s been amalgamated into the compost, ready for the plants. This compost and the organic fertilizer mix with trace minerals added, produces vegetables full of nutrients that consequently taste delicious. Some studies have shown that when we eat nutritious food, it decreases our craving for more food.

When my family eats most of our produce from the garden, we don’t need as many supplements. Take folic acid, for example. Enriched flour has had folic acid (vitamin B9) added. Folic acid has been made synthetically to replace folate, a nutrient available in well grown Romaine lettuce and other greens, collards, broccoli, cauliflower, beets and lentils. Our bodies absorb folate from vegetables much more readily than from folic acid, but folate in vegetables begins to degrade once the plant has been pulled, and deteriorates even more when the vegetable is cooked.

We need folate for red blood cell development and nervous system function. Because folate helps prevent neural tube defects in newborns, women of child bearing age must ensure they have enough of this vitamin before and during pregnancy. Perhaps a growing fetus will learn to love these vegetables while in utero, so later on mom won’t have to admonish him to “eat your vegetables”.

I’ve got a patch of Romaine sitting under glass that should be ready within a week and I’m starting another flat of dandelion greens. We’re still chomping turnips, garlic and kale from the garden, and I’m going to fry up a mess of turnip greens tomorrow, substituting them for cabbage in a traditional Scotch recipe for Colcannon that mom used to make. I hope David likes it because it really is a tasty dish. But then, his roots come from south of Hadrian’s Wall so one cannot blame his apprehension. Here’s the recipe:

Colcannon with Turnip Greens

2 potatoes

2 cups turnip greens, chopped

2 T. butter

½ cup milk

4 green onions, including the green parts

½ tsp. salt pepper to taste

1 T. finely chopped parsley

Chop and boil potatoes until tender, drain in a colander and set aside. In the same pot, heat the milk and add everything else except the parsley. Simmer for a few minutes until the greens have wilted, then add the potatoes and mash everything up. Add a dab of butter and a sprinkle of parsley on each plate.

Please contact mary_lowther@yahoo.ca with questions and suggestions since I need all the help I can get.


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