Gardens can be bountiful places full of fruits and veggies packed with vitamins and minerals. Tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash are all perfectly healthy parts of a balanced meal, but they wouldn’t add too much to the protein portion of your dinner.
You don’t have to own acres to grow a bit of protein in your backyard. A little amaranth here and a few edamame beans plants there, and you will be well on your way to providing yourself with a little plant-based protein for your meals.
Amaranth is a plant native to Mexico and Central America. It is well known these days as a superfood due to its incredible protein-rich seeds. One-quarter cup of dry amaranth seeds contains 7 grams of protein.
Amaranth is usually eaten as a grain in place of rice. However, it is pretty versatile and is used in granola bars, popped to makebreakfast cereal, and also makes a great hot porridge.
Amaranth is incredibly easy to grow and makes a gorgeous ornamental plant, as well as providing you with greens and seeds to eat. Sow your seeds outdoors as soon as any danger of frost has passed in the spring. The seeds are tiny, so barely cover them with soil. Amaranth can grow to 4-6 feet tall, so be mindful when choosing a spot for them. Keep the ground moist until they have sprouted, and gradually thin the seedling out until you have strong plants about 18 inches apart.
The seeds are ready for harvest when they fall from the flowers easily when touched. Once you notice this, get a bucket or a paper bag and clip the flower head off directly into your container. You don’t want to lose too many seeds to the ground. Then, you can shake the seeds free from the plant and use a fan to winnow any debris from your harvest.
When soybeans are eaten before maturity, they are referred to as edamame. Steamed pods are dipped into soy sauce or lightly salted and seasoned. Then, the beans can be popped from the pods right into your mouth.
Just like their mature selves, edamame beans are protein-rich, with just one cup providing you with 37 percent of your DV (Daily Value).
Again, if you have a little space in your garden, grow yourself a few soybean plants and harvest those pods young. Sow organic soybeans directly into your garden beds after the last frost of spring. Plant them 2 inches deep and about 6 inches apart. They will need to have a sunny spot.
The pods are ready to harvest when you can see the plump beans protruding through their pods, yet they are still a vibrant green. Once the pods start to yellow, they will be too tough and can only be harvested as dried beans.
It might not be the first thing you think of when planting for protein, but kale is quite protein-rich. Just one cup of raw kale provides 3 grams of protein. If you don’t have a huge amount of space, growing some kale in pots on your porch or balcony is a great alternative.
Kale seeds can be sown from late spring to early summer. It needs a sunny spot with well-draining soil. Add some compost to the soil before planting. It is a pretty hardy plant and stands up to frost quite well.
Harvest only the leaves you need and leave the rest of the plant in the ground to continue growing. You can harvest the leaves young for a ‘baby’ variety or eat the more mature leaves sauteéd or in soups.
Another surprising contender for the list is the humble potato. One serving of potato contains8 grams of protein. Yet another surprise might be that you don’t have to have a huge plot of land to grow yourself some spuds. Potatoes grow rather nicely in containers.
To grow potatoes in a pot, you will need some seed potatoes, an empty plastic, food-grade, five-gallon bucket, and some straw.
First, you will need to drill some holes in the bottom of the bucket for drainage. Next, fill the bucket about a third of the way with straw. You don’t need to pack it. Then, lay 3-4 sprouted seed potatoes on top of the staw and cover them up with more straw until it is about half full. Lastly, water it just as you would a potted plant.
Soon you will notice green shoots. Once these shoots are about 6-7 inches high, add more straw until just the tips of the shoots can be seen. This will encourage more roots to grow along the stems. Repeat this process until the bucket is full. When you see the plants starting to yellow, this signals that the potatoes are ready for harvest.
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