IN THE PINK
Healthy and colourful veggies
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.
PINK SWISS CHARD
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.
2 ALLIUM CEPA
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.
BR ASSICA OLER ACEA
( ) 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.
4 CAPSICUM ‘MAD HATTER’ (
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.
5 ‘CANDY CANE’ ( CAPSICUM
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.
TOMATO ‘CANDYLAND RED’
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.
TOMATO ‘MIDNIGHT SNACK’
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.