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Grow a rainbow with Swiss Chard in your vegetable garden.

You can add bright sparks of colour to your garden with your vegetable plots, boxes and containers.  Growing colourful crops can do wonders for your health. Skip the winter blues this year, by adding some winter purple and red vegetables to your garden.

September-October is not just time to start thinking about spring flowers but also of a rainbow of vibrant vegetable roots and shoots that can fill your garden with colour.

Think blush beetroot, cheerful chard, the leaves and tubers of homegrown vegetables can turn an average plot or pot technicolour.  But they’re not just good to look at, they’re good for our health too.

Growing radish is a great way to add sparks of colour to your garden.

Brightly coloured vegetables get their colour from flavonoid pigments.  The intense colour of purple kale and blue potatoes, for example comes from anthocyanin.  Carrots and sweet potatoes get their orange and yellow pigmentation from carotenoids: and the rich red of beetroot comes from betaken pigments – all of which have superior antioxidant properties.

Eat a rainbow of these vegetables every day and you will be providing yourself with powerful health benefits, boosting your immune system and protecting yourself against cardiovascular disease.

Try adding these eye-popping crops to your plot and create your own vitamin garden.

Rainbow Swiss Chard.

Swiss Chard

How to grow:

Easy to grow and tasty to eat. Swiss chard has bags of personality.  Sow seeds 2.5 cm deep in rows or in pots between March and July, but related to beetroot, its thick stalks and glossy leaves can sport yellow, orange, pink, red and purple veins that look like stained glass on a bright day.

A perfect spinach substitute.

How to eat:

Chop the stalks and munch them raw when young and stringless.  Rip the leaves into stir-fries or steam as a spinach substitute.

Colour credentials:

Rich in vitamins chard is also packed with potassium in fact it has almost 1,000mg per cooked cup. This electrolyte works in synergy with sodium and calcium to regulate fluid balance, which helps lower sodium levels in the body to reduce blood pressure and maintain a normal heart rhythm.

Burnt red gemstone of the vegetable garden.

Beetroot

How to grow:

Beetroot babes are the gemstones of the vegetable garden, offering earthy flavour and colour in one mouthful.  Sow little and often, rather than all at once. Beetroot seeds are actually a collection of several small seeds so this means you may get more than one plant per seed.  Don’t be tempted to sow too thickly. Sow in rows or pots 2cm deep and 10cm apart, every month from April to July for a plentiful supply.

Full of beautiful B vitamins.

How to eat:

The beauty of beets is that they are an eat all.  Use small roots raw and don’t forget the stems and leaves too.  Red beets ‘bleed’ and stain your fingers, but there are golden and white rooted varieties too and Chioggia with candy-cane flesh rings.

Colour credentials:

You get a good dose of vitamin B9 from beetroot, which includes both folate and folic acid. Folic acid is needed together with vitamin B12 for the production of red blood cells and for the synthesis and repair of DNA.

Add another flush of colour to your vegetable patch by growing radish.

Or keep it simple and neutral with white radish.

Radish

How to grow:

Quick and colourful, radish seeds can be up in under 25 days from sowing if the soil is kept moist.

Radish are a fantastic source of vitamin C.

How to eat:

The red-skinned types are fiery but the golden-skinned root are the hottest!  Slice raw into salads or use in stir fries with noodles.

Colour credentials:

These little red bullets are boosted with vitamin C.  This helps improve absorption of plant based non-heme iron and plays a vital role in immune function.  It’s also essential for growth, development and repair of body tissues.

 

Watch this space for my next post on growing and eating purple carrots, amaranth, roach, purple beans and blue potatoes.

 

Emma xxx