Eat your greens!

Often referred to s rabbit food, eating greens is one of the best things we can do for our wellbeing. When you are adding fresh, raw salads to your diet, you’re boosting the enzymes your body needs. Conventional wisdom tells us you are what you eat; everything in the body is connected so if your gut isn’t healthy, it will most likely show up on your face!

Pet rabbits love fresh greens and are generally really excited when they’re given as a treat!

Greens are recommended if you want to lose weight, this is because they are low caloric and convert fat-storing white cells into fat-burning brown cells. This creates extra fat burning and ultimately, weight loss.

Greens are also a brilliant source of natural fibre, aiding digestion and slowing the rate at which your body absorbs sugar. This prevents sharp rises in blood glucose, which makes them a good choice for diabetics and dieters as they make you feel full for longer.

They are also packed with vitamins. They are rich in vitamin A – good for building your body’s natural defences, vitamin C for healthy skin and bones and vitamin K, folate, beta-carotene and lutein, has an anti-aging effect.

Drink a spinach smoothie to jump start your day – and it will keep the wrinkles at bay! 

Spinach benefits cannot be overstated. In the past it has often been regarded as a plant that helps restore energy, increase vitality, and improve the quality of the blood. The main reason for this is that spinach nutrition twice as much iron as most other greens. Women who are worried about osteoporosis should consume spinach because it is a rich source of calcium and vitamin K.

A “cut-and-come-again” plant, kale’s young and tender leaves can be picked continually throughout the growing season once the plant is about 5cm tall. Avoid picking the central bud, since this keeps kale growing and productive

Green’s antioxidants also have anti-inflammatory benefits and because of their high magnesium content and low glycemic index, green leafy vegetables are also valuable if you have or at risk of develeping type 2 diabetes. These power-packed veggies help to reduce the risk of blood clots and heart disease too.

Eat greens, and especially spinach, and you’ll also be eating your sunscreen! We have to thank their vitamin content, folic acid and beta-carotene as this provides protectionfor your skin from the aging UV rays. Pluck outer spinach leaves from the spinach plant as it grows or sow batches of seeds every two weeks for successive harvests. Don’t wait too long to harvest spinach though, because its leaves will become bitter once the plant reaches maturity.

As green vegetables contain a lot of water, they will also help to keep you hydrated, which is essential for healthy, glowing skin and hair. They are a good source of Omega-3 too, which is associated with alleviating everything from mood disorders to excema. Lettuce contains a substance called lactur carium that helps promote sleep by sedating the nervous system, so if you have difficulty dropping off at night, eat a crisp green salad with your supper.

The texture lettuce varies from the crisp romaine to the sweet, buttery and sooth leaves of butterhead lettuce

There is an incredible diversity in the actual flavour of green veggies. For example, arugula is peppery, while radicchio is bitter. Beet leaves (yes, you can eat the tops!) can be eaten raw or cooked, but only snip off a leaf or two from each plant so as not to impede root production. Collard greens, which are faster and easy to grow, watercress, nasturtium and dandelion leaves, kale and mustard greens are all spicy, so are useful for giving an ordinary salad a bit of Pep.

Of all the accompaniments to grace our dinner tables, the deep purple hue of red cabbage perhaps the most striking. It is great finely shredded in salads and coleslaws or added to stir-fries

There are a number of ways to cook red cabbage but the most common are to braise or pickle it.  Red cabbage is full of vitamins A, C and K, minerals and anti-oxidants so eating it raw or juicing it provides a fantastic health boost. Red cabbage is in season from September to December though some varieties can be harvested as early as July.

Grow Your Own

Grow your own salad bar by lettuce and other leafy greens in the garden or in large containers. Lettuce can be sown in spring and in succession throughout the summer. Romaine, or Cos as they are also known, produce a long oval head of tightly packed crisp leaves – Little Gem is a miniature version. You can use the leaves to make a wrap. Simply lay the salad leaves on a plate and spoon the filling of your choice into the lettuce cups. Savoury rice work well.

Cut and Come again types, which are loose-leaf that are often sold as a mix of green and red oak-leaf types are among the easiest to cultivate and are more tolerant of hot weather. Planting a batch of seeds every 14 days will provide a continuous harvest

Plants’ roots grow best in well-draining loamy soil enriched with well-rotted garden compost to provide the necessary nutrients. Leafy vegetables that yield more than one crop per season inclue cabbage, kohlrabi, lettuce, raddishes and spinach. All dark leafy greens provide more nutrition per square metre than any other veg crop.

You can have two successful crops of cabbage in one year, in both spring and autumn and there are many varieties to choose from, so you’re bound to find one or more to suit both your growing conditions and taste preferences. Cabbages and other greens can be sown directly in the garden starting in spring and, in cool areas, planted throughout the summer until September. If you want to get a jump on the season, start seeds four to six weeks before the last frost date in your area so they can be planted two to three weeks later.

Ideally dedicate part of your plot for a ‘cabbage patch’, and sow spring cabbage in July/August ready to transplant in September/October. Summer varieties in late February and early March, under cloches, so they are ready to transplant in May and June. Winter cabbages are sown in April/May and should be transplanted in late June/July

When it comes to varieties, you might like savoy, which have crinkled leaves that are great eat to stuffed or used as a wrap. Try the winter variety Tourmaline and January King for taste. Durham Early is an excellent spring cabbage or you could grow Duchy an F1 hybrid that can be harvested in spring, summer and autumn. Perfect for small families, is the summer cabbage Hispi.

Don’t forget that you get two crops from early cabbage plants by cutting the cabbage head out of the plant, marking a deep cross in the top of the tough stalk but leave the outer leaves and root in the garden. The plant will then send up a second crop of around four smaller cabbages.

Kale Emerald Ice is one of the best vareties of this useful winter crop for taste and Scarlet is the most decorative with curly red leaves that can be eaten young in a salad. Broccoli Endeavour gives winter long supplies and is suitable to grow in the harshest conditions. Brokali Apollo is fast and prolific and can be planned to provide a crop more or less all year round.

The marigold is probably the most well-known plant for repelling insects. French marigolds repel whiteflies and kill bad nematodes. Mexican marigolds are said to offend a host of destructive insects and wild rabbits as well, so plant them liberally on your veg plot

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