Superfoods have exploded in popularity in recent years, helped by clever marketing playing on our ever present awareness of our mortality. Viewed as a special tool for keeping us fitter for longer, claims have been disseminated by wellness bloggers and celebrities, who do not have to stick to strict scientific principles, and remain unsubstantiated. Much of this goes back to a desire to move away from processed foods to traditional foodstuffs with legible ingredients lists, but also the rapid rise of allergies, the rise of vegetarianism and veganism and of course wishful thinking.
Nonetheless, while none of these foods are super, they are nutrient rich, and work well in moderation as part of a balanced diet. As if colour coded by nature, the different colours of fruit and veg originate from its dominant pigment, each containing different nutrient profiles. Beta-carotene, for example, that gives orange foods its colour is high in vitamin a – an essential nutrient for good vision. Hence, through eating a variety of coloured fruit and veg, you can ensure against nutrient deficiencies.
Personally, part of the attraction of superfoods is the fact you can grow many of them yourself, both reducing emissions and saving money, and of course learning a skill. Now, without further ado, here are 5 exotic superfoods you can grow in the UK.
Fascinating in every measure, pineberries are a progeny of the same cross that gave us the common garden strawberry, although are the polar opposite in colour! With an acidic-sweet taste like pineapples, pineberries live up to the latin name for strawberries – Fragaria x ananassa with ananassa meaning pineapples. Suitable for growing outside, pineberries produce small yields and benefit from extended sunlight. Likewise with the common garden strawberry, the key is to keep the soil moist without inducing fungal diseases such as verticillium wilt. To do this be sure to use fresh compost and avoid spots where you have previously planted plants from the solanaceae family. If disease does occur, be sure to address it quickly. Too boost yields, it is worthwhile to plant in the autumn the year before, which allows time for the roots to establish themselves.
Two species of kiwis are sold in the UK, Actinidia augusta and Actinidia deliciosa. The former, known as the hardy kiwi can be found growing as far north as Siberia! Perfect for small gardens, the most popular cultivar, Issai, will reach a manageable 2.4m and can be trained into any shape. Known for its bumper crops, the cultivar requires a sheltered sunny spot of garden.
More familiar, deliciosa’ fruits are sold in supermarkets and are significantly larger than its hardier cousin’s. Originating from southern China, the species benefits from a greenhouse. Jenny, the most popular cultivar, is extremely vigorous and can reach a whopping 5m. We recommend you attach it to a pergola and prune to ensure its energy goes into producing fruits.
With one of the most beautiful flowers of any fruiting species, passion fruit doubles up as an ornamental. Ostensibly hardy to -6C, the plant can be killed down to the roots in the harshest winters, but will regrow. Like the kiwi, it is extremely vigorous and will swamp anything but the largest greenhouses unless checked.
Another fruiting species with gorgeous flowers, almonds are within the same genus as peaches, plums and cherries. Although perfectly hardy, producing fruits can be difficult due to the propensity of its blossom to get destroyed by late frosts. Hence, you can’t guarantee a crop every year. Almonds benefit from a pollination partner of another cultivar and must be kept away from peaches as hybridisation will produce bitter nuts.
The quintessential superfood, blueberries grow fantastically well in the UK. The most exotic cultivar, Pink Lemonade, produces large pink fruits that actually taste of lemonade! For a more traditional variety, try Goldtraube – a reliable producer of large fruits with excellent flavour.
Jorge works in the Primrose marketing team. He is an avid reader, although struggles to stick to one topic!
His ideal afternoon would involve a long walk, before settling down for scones.
Jorge is a journeyman gardener with experience in growing crops.