Seasonal fruit and vegetables: Why they're the best
PUBLISHED: 16:20 15 April 2016 | UPDATED: 16:20 15 April 2016
Whether you opt to buy your fruit and vegetables from the supermarket or grow your own, eating food that's in season is always best
Get the most from your food by eating what’s in season. Not only will fruit and vegetables taste their best, they’ll also be at a more affordable price in your local supermarket. Plus, you’ll be helping the environment as growing seasonal crops requires lower levels of artificial input. So if you want your meals to be packed full of flavour, and long for fruits which have extra crunch and are super juicy, eat seasonally.
What’s in season?
April offers a vast variety of seasonal fruits, vegetables, meats and fish – you’ll be spoilt for choice. With a host of seasonal seafood at your fingertips, why not dine on pasta dishes infused with crab or sardines? Or if you can get your hands on the last of the previous seasons’ oysters, cockles, muscles and winkles, you can enjoy a truly east London meal. Just remember that jellied eels are never in season (yuk!) Cod and salmon are also at their best, so stock up on your omega 3 whilst enjoying delicious flavours and gourmet meals from the comfort of your own home.
Meat-wise, lamb is at its tastiest throughout April. Although it is readily available all year round imported from New Zealand, British lamb is hard to beat, especially when it comes to a traditional Sunday lunch. Roasted, grilled or slow-cooked in a stew, the rich flavour of a meat that’s born and bred in the UK is always a much-loved choice at dinner time. And what better way to enjoy a quintessentially British dish than with a host of seasonal vegetables?
Cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, potatoes and cabbage are all in high season and make the perfect accompaniment to many April meals. From roasts to stews to pasta dishes, vegetables are a great way to ensure you’re getting those vital nutrients to help sustain a healthy lifestyle, so why not enjoy them more by eating those that are at their best?
Although seasonal vegetables are available at reasonable prices in your local supermarket, it is much more satisfying to grow your own. Whether you’re an experienced green-fingered grower or a novice gardener, there’s a vegetable that’s waiting to fill a patch in your back yard. So celebrate National Gardening Month and start preparing for the summer, today!
National Gardening Month
April is National Gardening Month - An entire 30 days dedicated to growing your own herbs, fruits and vegetables along with planting beautiful flowers and plants.
For nervous first-timers, try growing potted herbs to help build your gardening confidence. Popular annual herbs include basil, dill and coriander and the great thing about these aromatic plants are that they will only last for one year. Harvest before the frost and then you’ll be ready to plant again next spring, or you can try something new. Remember, gardening is all about experimentation. Try new techniques and different herbs, plants and produce until you find the best fit for your lifestyle.
For home-grown basil, sow the seeds (available in all good garden centres) this month and they’ll be ready to harvest from June to September, so you can enjoy exquisite flavours all summer long. Alternatively, if you want to turn your hand to vegetables, give carrots a go. They’re an easy and rewarding crop to grow, plus they’re great for encouraging children to eat their five-a-day. To grow, remove any weeds from your soil and break up any clumps. Sow the seeds around ½ inch deep, 12 inches apart. Water well and keep the soil moist until germination, which should take between 10-20 days. Voila, home-grown carrots which will taste far superior to shop bought, all summer long.
So what are you waiting for? Start planning your seasonal menu now and if you want to add an extra touch of homemade, head to your local garden centre today. Ready, set, grow!
To celebrate National Gardening Month we’ve compiled out top tips for gardening success
- Crushed eggshells sprinkled across top soil can deter slugs from your plants. Plus, as the shells decompose they release calcium which helps to ‘sweeten’ the soil and aid plant growth.
- Looking to attract wildlife into your garden? Bees and finches love lavender and daisies whilst ivy provides nectar for insects and berries for birds – blackbirds, robins and many other birds may build their nests in its branches too.
- Mice and squirrels love bulbs, so cover the pots or freshly planted area with chicken wire to stop your crops from being dug up and eaten.
- Bring up annual weeds such as nettles or bittercress by shallowly working the soil with a hoe. Be careful not to dig too deep as it may bring ungerminated seeds to the surface.
- Having a bench under a tree provides a lovely place to sit accompanied by a gorgeous backdrop. Just remember to leave space for growth.
Discover what fruit and veg are in season this month
Bananas, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Grapefruit, Lettuce, New potato, Pak Choi, Peas, Pepper, Potato, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Radish, Rhubarb, Spinach, Spring Greens, Watercress
5 reasons to start gardening today!
1. Gardening tastes delicious
There’s no better flavour than home-grown
2. Gardening relieves stress
Exposure to sunlight, fresh air and the sound of nature, plus a creative output that promotes health and wellbeing; Gardening is a great hobby that can also act as a form of therapy
3. Gardening is good exercise
Weeding, hoeing, digging, not to mention all those trips up and down with the watering can - get fit whilst doing something you love
4. Gardening is child friendly
Encourage little ones to eat their five-a-day by letting them plant the seeds of healthiness
5. Gardening will save you money
A packet of seeds and some compost is undoubtedly more purse-friendly than a weekly trip to the fruit and veg aisle