Michael Perry, aka Mr Plant Geek, set tongues wagging on ITV's This Morning earlier this year, and now he's sharing his green-fingered tips with Attitude readers.
From home-grown fitness and healthy eating to sprucing up your home and garden, there's no better expert when it comes to homo horticulture - and this month he's revealing the easy steps for how health-minded can grow their own fitness...
Why not go and get green-fingered!?
Getting fit and growing your own are two activities that go hand in hand. You can either flex your muscles whilst digging your patch, or exercise your green fingers by growing some smoothie ingredients and a range of healthy carbs and proteins! So, if you’ve never thought about getting your hands dirty before, I want you to give it a go with my series of outdoor guides!
Growing your own fruit and vegetables is fun, and not just for so-called hipsters. You only need a small garden, patio or balcony, and in some cases you don’t even need that - a windowsill will do! When you grow your own crops, they will always be more tasty, sweeter, and will be packed with more vitamins and minerals than any tired supermarket specimens! The moment you harvest any fruit or vegetable, the vitamins and minerals start to deteriorate. You need to get them into you as quickly as possible!
Bigger isn't always better...
So, let’s start with something that needs the smallest space of all: Wheatgrass is the perfect windowsill crop, and the shiny green swards can offer a super vitamin shot to your daily smoothie, and it’s as easy to grow as cress! Sprinkle the seeds onto some moist kitchen towel and within days you’ll be skipping around the room dancing to Madonna, and gripping a vitamin-packed green smoothie!
You can also test run some fruity anti-ageing claims by loading up your breakfast plate with antioxidant-rich berries. Blueberries are packed with antioxidants, and the plants are small, compact and excellent for cute little contemporary pots on the patio. You’ll find your home-grown crop so much sweeter than the bland, tasteless supermarket crops too.
Last longer in the bedroom
You can keep your sex life healthy with blueberries too, as they help to improve blood circulation thanks to the antioxidants. Now, we all know that the key to a good, strong erection is good blood flow, so blueberries could be the answer to an enhanced time in the bedroom!! Asparagus is well-known as an aphrodisiac too, the spears are not only nicely phallic, but they’re also rich in folic acid. Folic acid produces histamine, which metabolizes protein and provides energy, allowing you to go on for longer… You’ll need a little space to grow asparagus outdoors though, but it’s feathery, rather camp appearance throughout the summer is well worth it!
Kale is a real 'now' vegetable too, almost as trendy as beards, and it can be grown easily in almost any space. Kale can be added to smoothies raw or cooked, and can be super tasty for meals if you cook it in the right way. I roast mine drizzled with olive oil, and it comes out like crispy seaweed!
The natural energy shot
Now, beetroot was one of the first vegetables I grew as a kid in my parents garden, and did you know that the cheeky red balls are a superb source of energy? I once saw a programme where some cyclists tested the energy beetroot gave them against red bull, and the beetroot team won!
Again, it’s really easy to grow, and you can harvest the young leaves for salads, which will keep you nourished whilst you wait for the roots to swell! You can buy varieties that only grow to the size of a golfball, so are just the right size for patio culture! Don’t forget regular smoothie ingredients like carrots too, and the roots don’t have to enter the beauty pageant either- ugly veg is still perfectly fine for juicing!
Cut the carbs by upping your veg intake
If you’re on a low carb diet (aren’t we all!), then you should remember there are many lower carb, energy-releasing vegetables that you can grow and cook with. Everyone seems to have turned their backs on the humble potato, and are favouring the much healthier sweet potato, which you can actually grow in the UK! They ideally need a lovely hot summer, but there are ways around this. Grow them in patio bags, so the extra warmth gets to the soil through the sides of the bag, or cover the ground around allotment-grown plants with black plastic to heat the ground. Sweet potatoes are a staple food for anyone serious about addressing their diet and aiming to reveal the abs for summer!
Growing beans is really easy and doesn’t need much space either, and did you know they're also a great source of fibre and healthy carbs..? I'd recommend growing a few in patio pots though, it'll mean the beans will stay fresher and further away from pest and disease than those grown on the allotment or on the vegetable patch. You could also add them to window box plantings, and when they’re ready to harvest, they’ll dangle down like a Joan Collins necklace!
Don’t get despondent if you don’t have a garden or balcony, as you can build a rather special garden just outside your window! Think about installing some window boxes, which you can pack out with herbs for smoothies, salads and teas, maybe some hanging, super sweet tomatoes, plus a few quick crops like mini carrots and radishes.
No more falling asleep at your desk
You’ll need a little more space if you want to raise your own exotic buzz food like chia, but it’s totally possible! Chia seeds are excellent for providing fatty acids, which help tiredness and fatigue, so make sure you get them one way or another. When growing outdoors, they make a handsome border plant, spreading it’s seed far and wide. Catch it while you can!
What about using some plants in your daily beauty regime too - did you know that brushing your teeth with the flesh of a strawberry can give them a lovely gleam, and chewing parsley can freshen breath?! And, if you catch the dreaded lurgy, you can always gargle with some hot Thyme tea!
The quick route to muscles!
Lastly, don’t neglect your muscles. If you haven’t got the outdoor space to ‘grow your own’, then why not sign up to a local allotment, so you can go and do a Jesse Metcalfe and get digging in your dungarees, or less. If you're serious about keeping your body on top form, getting down and dirty is the only way!
Follow Michael on Twitter @mr_plantgeek, and be sure to visit mrplantgeek.com for more.
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