Healthy and colour­ful veg­gies

South African Garden and Home - - Contents -

Pur­ple, red and pink rep­re­sent health, say trend spot­ters. In veg­eta­bles, th­ese colours in­di­cate the pres­ence of an­tiox­i­dants, which re­searchers say help to fight can­cer and obe­sity, pro­tect the heart and have anti-age­ing prop­er­ties. They’re also a bright ad­di­tion to the veg­gie gar­den.





An heir­loom va­ri­ety, it ) has vivid pink stems and dark-green leaves. It’s slow to bolt in the heat and can be grown all year round. A pretty ad­di­tion to the veg­etable and f lower gar­den, baby leaves can be har­vested within 30 days, or 60 days for larger leaves.

Sow in situ or in Grow­ing tips: seed trays. Plants do best in well­com­posted soil that drains well. Don’t let it dry out com­pletely. The best po­si­tion is plenty of morn­ing sun and af­ter­noon shade. Wa­ter reg­u­larly and fer­tilise once a month with a ni­tro­gen-rich fer­tiliser to main­tain good leaf pro­duc­tion. Har­vest two to three outer stems at a time.



This spring onion (also called a bunch­ing onion) re­mains deep red through all stages of growth, ir­re­spec­tive of weather con­di­tions. Milder than onion, it adds life to sal­ads, can be used as a gar­nish, in sand­wiches and in cook­ing.

Sow it as an au­tumn or Grow­ing tips: spring crop in fer­tile well-com­posted soil. For a con­tin­u­ous sup­ply, do this suc­ces­sively ev­ery two weeks in rows 30cm apart with a fi­nal spac­ing of 5cm in be­tween. Wa­ter reg­u­larly and har­vest when the stems are about 1cm thick or 30–38cm tall, or cut off the green leaves with scis­sors leav­ing the bulb to con­tinue grow­ing. Plants can also be left in the ground to de­velop a larger bulb.





( ) va­ri­ety pro­duces medium-sized pur­ple heads (also known as curds) high in nu­tri­ents that re­tain their bright pur­ple colour when cooked. The plants have pur­plish-green leaves around the curd. The f lorets are de­li­cious eaten raw (with a dip) or steamed, roasted or boiled as an eye-catch­ing side dish.

Grow as an au­tumn Grow­ing tips: or spring crop in fer­tile soil en­riched with com­post or well-rot­ted ma­nure and an or­ganic fer­tiliser, as plants are heavy feed­ers. Space plants 45cm apart for room to grow. Wa­ter reg­u­larly and don’t let the soil dry out. Fer­tilise once a month with a 2:3:1 gran­u­lar fer­tiliser. The curd is ready for har­vest within 80–90 days of sow­ing.



As good to look at as ) it is to eat, it re­sem­bles a three-cor­nered hat. The fruit has a sweet cit­rus-like tang that only gets hot near the seeds. Plants are vig­or­ous and pro­duce lots of fruit. ‘Mad Hat­ter’ orig­i­nates from South Amer­ica and is used in Bo­li­vian and Peru­vian cui­sine. Chop it raw into sal­ads, stuff with cheese and use in sauces or pickle it.

This mounded up­right Grow­ing tips: plant grows well in the ground and big con­tain­ers. The large plants grow 90–120cm high and wide and need plenty of sun and fer­tile, or­gan­i­cally rich soil that drains well. Po­si­tion con­tain­ers so that they re­ceive af­ter­noon shade, es­pe­cially dur­ing very hot weather. Wa­ter reg­u­larly and don’t let the soil dry out as this af­fects its pro­duc­tion. Fer­tilise once a month to sus­tain fruit bear­ing.



A sweet pep­per hy­brid, ) it’s part of Ball Straathof ’s Sim­ply De­li­cious pa­tio veg­gie range. The fruit changes colour as it ripens, start­ing with green and white stripes, ripen­ing to red. It’s ed­i­ble at all stages. The f lesh is thin, crispy and sweet. Plants are bushy and up­right (60cm high and 46cm wide) with at­trac­tive var­ie­gated leaves.

It grows equally well in Grow­ing tips: the gar­den and in con­tain­ers. At this time of the year, look for es­tab­lished, fruit­ing plants. Plants do best if they re­ceive morn­ing sun and af­ter­noon shade. Wa­ter pots daily and feed twice a month with a fer­tiliser for fruit and f low­ers. If the plants wilt, they drop their f low­ers.




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A cur­rant-type tomato, it has dark-red, sweet fruit smaller than the cherry tomato, ready to pop into your mouth straight from the gar­den. It’s ti­dier than other cur­rant-type toma­toes and clus­ters of fruit are formed on the out­side of the plant, mak­ing it easy to har­vest.

This tall plant needs Grow­ing tips: stak­ing and pro­duces over 100 fruits per plant. To sup­port its vig­or­ous growth, plant it in fer­tile, well-com­posted soil, or a large con­tainer us­ing good qual­ity pot­ting soil en­riched with slow-re­lease fer­tiliser. Space plants 60–120cm apart for ad­e­quate air cir­cu­la­tion and wa­ter reg­u­larly so that the soil never dries out com­pletely.




This indigo ( ) cherry tomato ripens to red with a glossy black-pur­ple over­lay when ex­posed to sun­light. The colour de­vel­ops from the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of an­tho­cyanin pig­ments – the same as in blue­ber­ries – and con­tains healthy an­tiox­i­dants.

It’s a quick-ma­tur­ing salad tomato with f lavour­ful fruit; a guilt-free snack any time of the day or night.

This vine tomato Grow­ing tips: should be staked to en­cour­age it to bear plenty of fruit. Plants grown in a large con­tainer can be trained up an obelisk. Plant it in fer­tile, well-drained soil where it gets plenty of sun. Make sure there’s good air cir­cu­la­tion and wa­ter reg­u­larly around the base of the plant. Con­tainer plants need daily wa­ter­ing dur­ing very hot weather.

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