Why it's healthy: Kale is known to be one of the healthiest foods on the planet. It is rich in minerals, vitamins A and C, and many antioxidants that have been linked to cancer prevention. It has also been shown to lower cholesterol and protect eyesight. How to grow it: Kale grows best in the spring and fall and can even withstand fall frosts, so its harvest period lasts until the first winter ground freeze. To plant kale in your garden, place seeds into moist soil, about a 1/2 inch deep, or buy small kale plants from your local garden centre. Make sure to keep them watered regularly, which keeps the leaves from getting tough. How to eat it: Use it in a salad, blend it into a smoothie or make kale chips. Try massaging a vinaigrette into your kale if you don't like the tough texture.
Why it's healthy: Ginger is known to calm an upset stomach, and it also eases muscle pain and arthritis symptoms. How to grow it: You can find ginger root to plant at your local grocery store. Look for a root with eye buds, which are the rounded points at the end of each piece. You can plant the entire root, or break the ginger up into pieces to plant— just make sure that each section has a bud on it. Find a shaded area in your garden and plant early in the spring after all chances of frost have passed. How to eat it: Fresh ginger is delicious grated or pureed in soup, or minced in a stir-fry. If you have a stomachache, pour boiling water over sliced ginger for a soothing tea.
Why it's healthy: Mint aids digestion and eases indigestion and inflammation. How to grow it: Purchase a plant at your local gardening center. Plant in moist soil, about 15 inches apart. Make sure to place a mesh bag or pot into the ground first to keep the plant contained. Mint spreads quickly and invasively if you're not careful, and could take over your garden! Harvest mint leaves as you need them, but frequent harvesting is important to keep plants at their best. How to eat it: Mint is a welcome addition to salads, marinades and cold soups. Try muddling mint with lime and adding sparkling water for a refreshing summer drink.
Why it's healthy: Rosemary is a good source of iron, calcium and vitamin B6. It can help improve memory, and is known to boost the immune and circulatory systems. How to grow it: This herb prefers full sun and bright light. To grow rosemary from seedlings, plant them two to three feet apart in well-drained soil. To harvest, cut stems and hang upside down to dry. How to eat it: Rosemary is the perfect herb to accompany meats, potatoes and sauces. Making a rosemary marinade for grilled meats has been shown to counteract carcinogens that develop in the grilling process.
Why they're healthy: Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin B6, which may improve heart health. They also contain antioxidants that ward off cancer and signs of aging. How to plant them: Look for sweet potato slips, which are sprouts from mature sweet potatoes that can be found at your local garden centre. Plant the slips in fertile soil 12 to 18 inches apart, deep enough to cover a bit of the stem and the roots. Make sure to keep them well watered. How to eat: Sweet potatoes can be used the same way as regular potatoes. Try yummy sweet potato fries, make them into a soup or use them to replace regular potatoes for a twist on shepherd's pie.