Healthy Highlights in the Castle Hill Culinary Garden
“Let food be thy medicine” ~Hippocrates
The more I researched for this blog post, the more impressed I became by the wide range of health benefits present in the flowers, vegetables, and herbs we grow. This article will outline some healthy highlights for each plant, but there are so many more benefits to be aware of! I hope this post inspires you to look further in to some of your favorite fresh foods and gives you a new appreciation for some of my favorites here at Castle Hill!
Edible flowers are a wonderful way to add color and nutrition to any dish. Studies show that most are high in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds and essential minerals. Many edible flowers are a rich source of vitamin C, and some – such as chamomile and corn flower – can ease anxiety and aid digestion. At Castle Hill, we grow a wide range of edible flowers including: nasturtiums, borage, viola, begonia, sweet alyssum, corn flower, chamomile and marigold. The bright and peppery nasturtiums are chock full of vitamin C and have been used for centuries to boost the immune system and fight sickness with their antibiotic properties. Nearby, the star-shaped blue borage is made up of polyunsaturated fatty acids necessary to cellular development and overall health. So nice to know that these cheerful blooms have so much to offer!
Parsley, along with edible flowers, is one of my favorite plants to work with. I swear it must have mood enhancing properties because whenever I harvest it I feel awash with happiness. There’s something in the scent and sight of its bright green leaves that lifts me up every time. And having done my homework I realize that endorphins aside, parsley gives us many reasons to be happy. For one, parsley contains a flavonoid called myricetin that has been shown to fight cancer, regulate blood sugar and provide anti-inflammatory effects. Parsley also has bone-enhancing vitamin K and immune-boosting vitamin C, plus vitamin A and folic acid.
Radishes at Castle Hill come in many shapes and sizes. We mainly grow three varieties and keep them going all season. Radishes help cleanse the liver and stomach and are high in antioxidants, zinc, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins E, A, C, B6 and K. These low-calorie, high fiber veggies are nutrient packed and delicious on Castle Hill salads, sandwiches and other fresh dishes.
Chives are another nutrient-dense food that contain vitamins A, C and K, along with folate, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. Along with other plants in the allium family, chives contain allyl sulfides that aid digestion and boost the immune system.
Swiss Chard is a vigorous plant that will grow in full sun or part shade and will tolerate wet or dry conditions. It produces all season long and is packed with vitamins A, C, and K, as well as magnesium, potassium and iron.
Kale is almost as easy to grow as chard, although it does not appreciate when temperatures get too high so we use extra mulch to harvest all season. Kale has been dubbed a “super food” in many circles and has become synonymous with healthy eating. Kale is a high fiber vegetable with nearly 3 grams of protein per cup! Kale contains vitamins A, C, K and folate, along with alpha-linolenic acid, a healthy omega-3 fatty acid sought after in fish oil. Kale also hosts necessary minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc and potassium, which aid good health in a myriad of ways.
With all of the produce listed here, it is important to remember that the potency is highest when the plant is first picked. I’ve noted before how appreciative I am to be growing food that travels meters – not miles- to where it is served, and this is one of the reasons!
Enjoy Good Food and Good Health,
Horticulturist, Castle Hill Inn