ON THE BRIGHT SIDE
Vibrant veggies to grow this summer
Garden Day (21 October) is about enjoying the fruits of your labour and sharing gardens with loved ones. One of the great pleasures of growing your own vegetables is the increased availability of unusual and colourful varieties that not only taste good, but create an impact when entertaining.
Forget red beetroot – try exotic striped and golden varieties instead. ‘Chioggia’ is a striking heirloom variety with concentric purple and white circles. ‘Golden Globe’ is round and golden yellow.
: Beetroot likes fertile, well-drained soil. Unlike most other root crops, Growing tips it doesn’t mind being transplanted, provided the seedlings are small and kept moist. It can also be directly seeded. When planting, add organic 2:3:2 fertiliser. Regular moisture prevents it from becoming stringy and tough.
: To retain Chioggia’s stripes, cook before slicing otherwise the colours merge Eating into a pale pink. The colour is best retained when sliced thinly and eaten raw. ‘Golden Globe’ has a mild nutty f lavour and the advantage of not staining other vegetables during cooking.
The Chinese name for this radish is shinrimei, meaning ‘beautiful at heart’. It’s a perfect description as it has a creamy white skin with bright magenta f lesh. When its shoulders are exposed to sun, they turn green and resemble watermelon.
: A large heirloom Daikon Growing tips radish, it
needs a bit more space and
time to mature than smaller varieties.
Radishes are brassicas and do best in cooler months. In hot temperatures, they tend to be spongy and pungent. They grow easily from seed and benefit from being buried slightly below the surface – about 1–1,5cm deep. This encourages them to grow fatter roots. Thin them out so they have space to develop into a decent size.
: The sweet, mild f lavour is Eating wonderful in salads and looks good too. They can also be slow roasted to intensify the sweet f lavour. Pickle thin slices for a colourful condiment.
These unusual varieties look fabulous and taste great. The colour comes from their high levels of anthocyanins (see box). Varieties include ‘Black Cherry’, a productive indeterminate tomato with dark red, almost black, skin. It has great f lavour and is slightly larger than most cherry tomatoes. ‘Purple Perfection’ changes from green to deep purple before ripening to red with dark black shoulders. It’s low in acid and high in f lavour.
: Tomatoes require fertile Growing tips soil and plenty of sun – black tomatoes in particular need sun in order for their colour to develop. They require strong staking and support and benefit from pruning as this prevents disease. They are heavy feeders and a potassium-rich fertiliser encourages f lowers and fruit. Bonemeal added when planting increases the calcium in the soil, preventing cutworms and blossom end rot.
: Simple is best with these
Eating beauties. Slice and toss in an olive oil and balsamic dressing with basil leaves, and for impact on the plate, combine with yellow and green varieties.
Baby red cabbage
For small gardens, ‘Baby Red Primero’ is ideal. It has compact, round, dark-red heads with green and red outer leaves. It is quicker than most cabbages to mature – about 10 weeks. It also suits container gardens and its colour is effective in table decorations – simply slice thinly and place in a glass vase filled with water for a dramatic centrepiece.
: As it’s not fussy about Growing tips climate or soil, it’s easy to grow. Sow seeds in containers in spring or autumn. When they have six true leaves, transplant them into fertile soil in full sun. When heads start forming, side dress with an organic 3:1:5 fertiliser. Provide consistent moisture to prevent the heads from splitting.
: Red cabbages can be eaten raw, Eating pickled, fermented, steamed, braised, stir-fried and stuffed. To retain the colour when cooking, add lemon juice or vinegar (see box). I prefer raw red cabbage, very thinly sliced, marinated in a lemon, honey and olive oil dressing for a few hours.
Brett Eloff and Christine Steininger