noun_Search_345985 Created with Sketch.
noun_Search_345985 Created with Sketch.

The latest from The Paleo Diet®, just for you.

Hot topics, new recipes, and science

Paleo Gardening No Matter the Color of Your Thumb

By Stephanie Vuolo, B.A.
August 5, 2015
https://thepaleodiet.imgix.net/images/gardening.jpg?auto=compress%2Cformat&fit=clip&q=95&w=900

Are you looking to save money on your grocery bill while following the Paleo diet? One of the simplest ways to reduce food costs is to grow your own food!

Although, planting a garden wasn't something our hunter-gatherer ancestors had to do, it allows us to reconnect to our food source in modern times by foraging from our own environment.1 Further, having access to fresh vegetables allows you to round out your Paleo meals at a moment’s notice, so you can get dinner on the table quickly. Grilling chicken breasts? Why not pair it with a hearty green salad straight from the garden?

Even those with a black thumb and limited space can have success with gardening by utilizing crops that grow well in containers and don’t require a lot of sun to thrive. I actually began my own garden exclusively in containers with partial sun, focusing on low maintenance crops that demand minimal weeding, such as lettuces and herbs. As I gained confidence and knowledge, I have been able to expand my bounty to Swiss chard, carrots, beets, and cucumbers. By utilizing my small urban yard, I have been able to continuously grow food throughout the year, including hot summers and snowy winters.

Here’s why you should plant your own herb and lettuce filled Paleo garden.

Herbs are a superfood, packed with important antioxidants. They might even be a better source of dietary antioxidants than food groups such as berries and dark leafy vegetables. 2 Specifically herbs contain a wide variety of active phytochemicals, including the flavonoids, terpenoids, lignans, sulfides, polyphenolics, carotenoids, coumarins, saponins, plant sterols, curcumins, and phthalides that either inhibit nitrosation or the formation of DNA adducts or stimulate the activity of protective enzymes such as the Phase II enzyme glutathione transferase. 3

Herbs are typically expensive to purchase at the grocery store and tend not to last very long when picked. Therefore, cultivating your own herb garden can be beneficial to both your health and your wallet. Our favorite, easiest to grow herbs are thyme, rosemary, and chives.

Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is derived from the wild plant Lactuca serriola and was considered a medicinal herb, useful as a sedative and analgesic. 4 Once you discover the pleasure of eating fresh picked lettuce, you won’t settle for prepackaged leaves ever again. Lettuce leaves are edible at any stage of its development before it goes to seed, and fresh picked, young lettuce is delicious. Lettuce also contains antioxidant compounds, polyphenols such as quercetin and luteolin rhamnosyl-hexosides, and vitamin C.

Growing your own lettuce allows you to experience a larger variety than what is available at your grocery store. Seek out the kinds with the darkest leaves, as they offer the most nutritional benefit. The loose leaf variety is the easiest to grow and can be harvested leaf by leaf, and the summer crisp variety is the most resistant to bolting during extreme summer heat.

High summer temperatures stimulates plants to bolt as well as make them taste bitter, and strong sun exposure can burn their leaves. You can create shade with taller plants like sunflower and raspberry, or use cloth covers, and planting in containers allows you to relocate them to more suitable conditions. Fortunately, if you find the leaves taste acrid, wash and store them in the refrigerator for a day or two and much of the bitterness will disappear. 5

Get started with your own Paleo garden to experience an abundance of fresh herbs and greens. Now is the time to plant to get ready for a fall harvest.


REFERENCES

[1] O'Keefe, James H., and Loren Cordain. "Cardiovascular disease resulting from a diet and lifestyle at odds with our Paleolithic genome: how to become a 21st-century hunter-gatherer." Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Vol. 79. No. 1. Elsevier, 2004.

[2] Dragland, Steinar, et al. "Several culinary and medicinal herbs are important sources of dietary antioxidants." The Journal of nutrition 133.5 (2003): 1286-1290.

[3] Craig, Winston J. "Health-promoting properties of common herbs." The American journal of clinical nutrition 70.3 (1999): 491s-499s.

[4] Marks, Malcolm K., and Stephen D. Prince. "Seed physiology and seasonal emergence of wild lettuce Lactuca serriola." Oikos (1982): 242-249.

[5] Drost, Dan. "Lettuce in the Garden." US Department of Agriculture Retrieved from //extension. usu. edu/files/publications/publication/HG_Garden_2005-16. pdf (2010).

Even More Articles For You

Recipe: Chicken Fajita Bowl with Cauliflower Rice
Chicken is one of the most versatile staples of the Paleo diet. Learn how you can make a delicious and easy dinner with this great Paleo recipe!
By The Paleo Diet Team
Selenium Supplementation and The Paleo Diet
Selenium is essential to thyroid function and the immune system. Common Paleo Diet foods make it easy to consume the recommended amount of selenium per day.
By Christopher Clark
Keep Your Weekend Warrior in Check
To mimic hunter-gathers physical movement, both weekday and weekend warriors need to be active on a daily basis instead of restricting to certain days.
By Stephanie Vuolo
Paleo Leadership
 
Trevor Connor
Trevor Connor

Dr. Loren Cordain’s final graduate student, Trevor Connor, M.S., brings more than a decade of nutrition and physiology expertise to spearhead the new Paleo Diet team.

Mark J Smith
Dr. Mark Smith

One of the original members of the Paleo movement, Mark J. Smith, Ph.D., has spent nearly 30 years advocating for the benefits of Paleo nutrition.

Nell Stephenson
Nell Stephenson

Ironman athlete, mom, author, and nutrition blogger Nell Stephenson has been an influential member of the Paleo movement for over a decade.

Loren Cordain
Dr. Loren Cordain

As a professor at Colorado State University, Dr. Loren Cordain developed The Paleo Diet® through decades of research and collaboration with fellow scientists around the world.