ON THE BRIGHT SIDE

Vi­brant veg­gies to grow this sum­mer

South African Garden and Home - - Contents - SOURCE Jane’s De­li­cious A-Z of Vegeta­bles by Jane Grif­fiths (Sun­bird Pub­lish­ers, jonathanball.co.za) janes­de­li­cious­gar­den.com

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.

Psy­che­delic beet­root

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.

Wa­ter­melon radish

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.

Black toma­toes

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.

Wa­ter­melon radish

Keith Knowl­ton

Jane Grif­fiths

Brett Eloff and Chris­tine Steininger

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