The Power of Antioxidant Foods & How To Grow Them Yourself

Learn about antioxidant-rich foods and how to cultivate them in your own garden.

Written by David S.

Every day our body encounters toxins from the environment, the foods we eat, the air we breathe, and physical contact with substances we touch. Those situations become the battle between oxidative agents and antioxidants. This blog discusses the power of antioxidants and how to grow foods that are rich in them. 

What Are Antioxidants?

Antioxidants are substances that help our body to remove or neutralize oxygen-reactive elements in our body so that the process reduces oxidative stress. 

Our body produces some antioxidants but not a complete set. We take in antioxidants through the foods that we consume. Some foods are higher in antioxidants than are others. This blog tries to focus on foods rich in antioxidants and the process of growing them. 

What is Oxidative Stress?

Oxidative stress is a cellular issue where there is the build-up of oxygen-reactive toxins and our body’s ability to control the chemical result when oxygen meets a reactive toxin. The process happens on a cellular level and often in the lungs. Examples of events that produce oxidative stress in our body include:

  • Smoking Tobacco 
  • Breathing in environmental toxins, such as smog chemicals. 

The damage that oxidative stress does to our cells can become the precursor of:

  • Cancer
  • Advanced aging
  • Poor health
  • And other dangerous health issues. 

Some therapeutic uses of antioxidants include the treatment of cancer and as part of the treatment for diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Antioxidants are powerful.

Foods That Are Rich In Antioxidants

Many foods contain antioxidants, so choosing foods to grow that boost your body’s antioxidant levels is not difficult. The list includes:

  • Small red beans 
  • Red kidney beans 
  • Cultivated blueberries 
  • Cranberries 
  • Artichokes 
  • Blackberries 
  • Prunes 
  • Raspberries
  • Red delicious apples 
  • Granny Smith apples 
  • Sweet cherries
  • Black plums 
  • Black beans 
  • Dark leafy greens

You might notice that many of these foods are dark in color or red. Red, blue, and purple foods are often high in antioxidants. Even in the grocery store, you can make choices that improve the quality of antioxidants in your diet. If you want to grow your own food, then consider the following. 

  1. Starting a Garden or expanding an existing garden – Green Thumb Nursery has garden bed kits that make it easy to install a raised bed. There are even options for an adaptive raised bed, so you don’t have to bend over to maintain your garden. 
  2. Install fruit trees that offer antioxidant-rich fruit, such as Red Delicious apples, gala apples, dark plums, and prunes. 

Green Thumb Nursery makes it easy for you to start a garden or a small orchard. We offer a range of fruit trees, shrubs, berries, and vegetables that give you access to high-quality antioxidant foods. 

Starting A Garden 

There are options available when you need to start a garden or expand an existing garden. An easy way to start gardening is to use containers as your garden beds. Containers offer an affordable way to begin the process of growing your food. Here are some examples: 

  • A 5-gallon container with garden soil will support 4-6 bean plants. Red beans and black beans are two foods that are rich in antioxidants. 
  • A 3-5 gallon container makes an excellent home to grow carrots. If you use successive gardening, you will have a ready crop of carrots all year long. Carrots are fantastic raw, blanched, steamed, or as a juicing vegetable. 
  • A 30-55 gallon container is ideal for growing dwarf fruit trees. Dark plums, such as the Santa Rosa Plum, offer a ton of antioxidants. You can eat them raw, juice them, dehydrate them or make them into jam. Dwarf fruit trees with fantastic levels of antioxidants include prunes, apples, plumbs, and citrus. 
  • A 30-55 gallon container is ideal for growing berries. Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries are three examples of antioxidant-rich fruit. 
  • A 15-30 gallon container offers an excellent way to house artichoke plants. 

Raised Garden Beds 

You don’t need a carpenter to make raised garden beds. Green Thumb Nursery had easy-to-assemble raised garden bed kits. You need a minimal amount of tools and soil to get started. Install one or many and begin to grow the good you love. 

A ten-foot-long by four-foot-wide garden bed is enough space to grow beans, chard, leafy greens, carrots, and an artichoke plant. 

For soil, consider bagged soil such as organic topsoil, organic compost, and an aggregate. Brands such as Black Gold and FoxFarm, offer fantastic quality soils for containers and raised garden beds. 

Choosing the Best Plants 

For garden vegetables, you can choose seeds and seedlings. We like the idea of seedlings and starts because they give you a little boost by decreasing the time it takes to grow harvest-ready vegetables. For vegetables, such as carrots, it is better to plant them by seed. 

When selecting seedlings or starts, look for containers that have plants that are nearly the same size and shape. Doing so gives you an advantage as the plants are more likely to fruit or produce at the same time. 

Successive Gardening

Successive gardening is a trick that gardeners use to keep the same crop available for harvest as long as possible. The trick is to plant a little more of the plants than you think you need. For example, if you use two bunches of carrots per month, you would plant 100 carrot seeds every two-three weeks. If carrots take 60 days to reach maturity, then your first crop of carrots is ready for harvest at 60 days from planting. The next crop will be two weeks later, and the third crop will be two weeks after the second crop. That means you will have one crop at 60 days, a second at 74 days, and a third at 88 days from the time when you planted the first crop. 

Another way to use successive gardening is to start seeds 2-6 weeks before planting them. You manage this process by determining when a crop in the garden will be ready to harvest. For example, say you decide to plant peas. The plants should be done fruiting by August 1. For a fall garden, you want to plant Cauliflower. When the peas come out of the garden, you want to be able to plant healthy cauliflower seedlings in that spot. You would start seeds on July 1, giving the seeds a full month to germinate and grow before you transplant them on August 1. By using successive seed starting, you can take a month’s worth of time off of the days-to-harvest for the cauliflower. 

Those tricks are important when you grow a lot of food in a small space. 

These garden tips can help you grow enough fresh produce and plants to keep you in fresh antioxidants all year long.  

Learn more about gardening in Southern California by stopping by any of our five Souther California locations. Our Plant experts are available to help you with soil selection, choosing a raised garden bed or container, and seed and plant selection too. 

Do you like what you see? Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get content like this every week!