Just as a flower gardener will carefully choose ornamentals to achieve a good color scheme, so should the edibles gardener consider color a major factor in the garden. This would be for a different reason, though: Nutrition.
Of course the more different kinds of veggies you can grow, the better. We all know that eating a variety of veggies and fruits in an assortment of colors is best for optimum health. Growing that variety is not always an option, especially for busy gardeners or those with limited space. However, even if you can’t grow a lot of vegetables, you can probably grow some different colored varieties of a few veggies.
So how can you go about doing that? Take a good look in a few seed catalogs. You will find that both hybrid and heirloom edibles offer many different colors of the same veggie. This rainbow represents a variety of nutrients that your body will love to have.
Carrots come not only in orange, but red, yellow, purple and white. Each color delivers some of the same and also some additional nutrients.
Surely you have seen both green and purple cabbage. Have you tried a white or green eggplant yet? Squash can be found in an assortment of colors.
Even peas are available both in green and yellow. And beans? Don’t get me started. We plant yellow, red, brown, black, tan and white dry beans alone, as well as an assortment of colors of fresh garden beans.
Look at the eye candy that can be had just for the asking when growing sweet peppers. Green, yellow, red, orange and purple, not to mention a variety called ‘Chocolate’ that will produce purple peppers so dark they appear to be black. Each one may vary only in taste a little, but they will provide you with some variance in their nutrients. Not only is the visual appeal enjoyable, but healthier as well.
Remember to classify your veggie color by the part you eat. If the inside is orange and the rind is green, such as with an acorn squash, consider it an orange veggie.
There are some seeds you can purchase that have the rainbow already inside. The best known is probably ‘Bright Lights’ swiss chard. The stems of these nutritious green leafy-top veggies range from red to yellow, pink, white, purple and orange. Just seeing them growing is inviting; having this beautiful assortment on your plate is delightful.
If you only like certain vegetables or if your family is picky, growing different colors of the veggies they love can still get more of a variety of nutrients into them. Perhaps, too, they might just try a green striped tomato or a purple carrot. They may find they have a new veggie they like after all. So by checking out what colors are available for your favorite veggies, you can still get a rainbow from your garden.
Gardening Jones is a master gardener in Pennsylvania. Learn more at gardeningjones.com/blog.
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