In Florida, fall is an ideal time to start a vegetable garden. As the weather begins to cool in the sunshine state, backyard vegetable gardens can flourish and grow abundantly. Gardening offers a number of health benefits for seniors, such as exercise, exposure to natural vitamin D from the sun, mood boost, and a sense of pride and accomplishment in what you’ve grown. Not only that but eating food hand-picked from your own garden tests better than store-bought produce. Knowing which vegetables to grow can be a little overwhelming, so we’ve compiled a list of vegetables to plant this fall in Florida.
Beets are a fast-growing crop that are usually ready to harvest within 2 months after planting seeds. They don’t take a lot of room in a garden, so plant as many beets as you’d like without worrying too much about space.
Beets offer a number of health benefits for seniors. Beets increase blood flow to the brain in older adults, which can potentially be helpful in reducing the risk of dementia or slowing the progression of the condition. Beets have also been shown to reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Broccoli typically needs 80-100 days to grow before harvesting. After you harvest the first head, the plant will produce smaller shoots beneath where the first head first grew, and will continue to produce broccoli throughout the season.
Broccoli has been labeled a superfood thanks to its abundance of health benefits, including protecting against osteoarthritis, cancer, and obesity. It also has the potential in reducing depression and anxiety, but more research is needed to confirm.
Carrots are easy to grow, and they particularly love the loose, sandy soil Florida is known for. Carrots do best when grown under full sunlight, but can tolerate some shade. They need consistently moist soil to thrive and are ready to harvest 70-80 days after planting.
Carrots are high in vitamin C, which makes them a great immune system booster. They also help strengthen bones and help control diabetes. Carrots are a natural laxative of sorts due to their high fiber content, helping prevent constipation.
Brussels sprouts need cool weather to grow, so it’s best to plant them in October. Patience is a requirement for growing brussels sprouts, as they can take 26-31 weeks before being ready to harvest. The sprouts will grow at different times, so harvest from the bottom up as you feel them begin to firm up.
Brussels sprouts are rich in antioxidants, high in fiber, and loaded with vitamins C and K. They help reduce inflammation, which is associated with many chronic health conditions. They also help regulate blood sugar and help detoxify the body, preventing some diseases.
Radishes are root vegetables that grow pretty quickly. They’re ready to harvest about 45 days after planting. They don’t take a lot of room in the garden, so you can grow a lot in a small space.
Just 100 grams of radishes will provide your body with fiber, vitamins, magnesium, and other important nutrients. Radishes are known to provide relief from osteoarthritis, help with regular bowel movements, and are even beneficial for skin health and heart health. Since they’re loaded with fiber, they also help you feel full longer, which can help with weight management.
Spinach is best when grown in the cooler months, because it tends to have a more bitter taste if grown in warmer temperatures, so it’s best to plant it from October to January. Spinach takes anywhere from 37 to 45 days to mature and can be harvested when you notice it has five or six leaves.
Spinach is high in vitamin K, which helps reduce bone fragility to protect against bone breaks and osteoarthritis. The antioxidants in spinach may help protect against cancer, fight infections, and even increase your energy levels. The beta carotene and vitamin E in spinach may also help prevent vision loss in older adults.
Though gardening takes some work and patience, the benefits of growing your own food are plentiful. The fruits (well, vegetables) of your labor are not only tasty but offer health benefits that can improve your overall health and wellness, too.