Add color and nutrients to your garden and plate with these colorful vegetables. One of the nice things about growing your own vegetables is the amount of variety available. No need to stick with the grocery store varieties; there is a whole world of colorful veggies to choose from. Many of these offer higher levels of vitamins and antioxidants than the ordinary types.
Called silverbeet in some circles, swiss chard is a flavorful “green” that comes in lots of colors. In the store you’ll find red or white stems. At home you can grow yellow, orange, pink, purple and maroon as well. Try ‘Bright Lights’ chard for a nice variety of colors.
If you have only seen red or white radishes, you’re in for a treat. The ‘Easter Egg’ mix offers pastel shades of pink and purple as well. There are even black radishes you can try.
If you thought sweet potatoes were orange with reddish skins, think again. These amazing tubers may have tan, rose, red, orange or blue skins; and the flesh may be white, yellow, orange, cream or blue. All are highly nutritious and delicious.
That beautiful “Indian” corn that is so familiar in fall is a good indicator of the colorful options available to gardeners. True, most sweet corn is yellow and/or white, but sweet red corn is also available to home gardeners. Add blue, green and orange to your corn palette with flour-making types.
Brussels sprouts can be exciting. Imagine a plate full of red/purple sprouts. Though rare, ‘Rubine’ or ‘Falstaff’ Brussels sprouts are the way to go for a bit more color.
On your plate, asparagus may come in three colors: green, white or purple. In the garden, green and white asparagus are the same plant; the difference being that the white varieties are blanched to look that way artificially. Purple asparagus is another variety altogether with the pigment in the outer skin only (the pulp is still green). This thin veneer of purple, however, adds a tremendous punch of antioxidant value.
Colorful peppers are no secret. The main thing to understand is that all peppers may be used in their green stage, but as they ripen their individual colors develop with their flavors. Red, yellow, orange or purple peppers, whether hot or sweet, are the most nutritious and the most flavorful options.
The popularity of heirloom tomatoes has led the charge into new and colorful vegetable territory. Yellow varieties taste great and have lower acid content, great for sensitive digestive systems. Purple varieties feature more antioxidants. There are also a plethora of multiple-hued varieties.
Even the lowly potato is in on the colorful action. Blue skin/ blue flesh, red skin/ red flesh, tan skin/ yellow flesh, red skin/ white flesh…These options and more provide variety that you will only get from your own backyard.
In the old days, local communities had their own favorite varieties of vegetables in many colors. The carrot may have been the first vegetable from which a single color became overwhelmingly popular, after the Dutch developed orange carrots. Previously purple, white and yellow rooted varieties predominated. In a world of natural, and often drab colors, imagine the appreciation farmers would have had for the brilliant orange, sweet roots.
Whether we’re talking snap beans or ripe/dry beans, you have lots of choices for color. “Green” pods may be green, purple or yellow. The inner beans come in dozens of shades and patterns: white, black, red, tan, pink, brown, speckled, calico, spotted and more.
Cauliflower has been known for a long time as a white vegetable. Did you know that it comes in other bright colors? Orange and purple cauliflower have become increasingly popular at farmers’ markets over the past twenty years. As with other colorful veggies, they bring an increased vitamin and antioxidant content to the table. Two commonly available varieties are ‘Cheddar’ (orange) and ‘Graffiti’ (purple).
Beets may be shades of red, white, gold, or even striped. Adding color to your harvest is easy. Try it, and reap the aesthetic and healthful benefits.