Brighten Your Winter Garden

With the cooler weather finally here and winter well and truly on its way, brighten up your vegetable garden by chosing to plant the coloured winter vegetables. Many of the varieties available are easy to grow, look great and taste fantastic as well.
 
Try these varieties of vegetables for a splash of colour and are ideal to plant right now:
 
Snowball’ Cauliflower  – Provides great contrast in your garden beds with crisp white heads. This variety is suitable to grow in warmer areas and will take 3-4 months to reach maturity.
 
Purple Sicily’ Cauliflower – This variety has an attractive purple head up to 1kg in size but will take double the time to reach maturity as the ‘Snowball’ variety, 180 days to reach maturity. Both these varieties provide delicious winter foods and can be made into soups, steamed or added to stir-fry’s. (Below)
 
Rainbow Chard Silverbeet – This variety of Silverbeet is an attractive tall colourful leafy vegetable with green leaves and red, yellow & white stems. It is easily grown liking fertile well drained soil with only 60 days until the first harvest and then continually producing over many months until the hot weather begins. This variety will handle full sun to part shade and can be used fresh, steamed or cooked.
 
There are many varieties of beetroot available other than your common blood red variety. With all varieties of beetroot the root is the most popular used part of the plant.  Remember that the leaves are also edible, added to salads when picked young and fresh or the leaves can be steamed.  They keep their colour well. Beetroots are very easy and fast to grow preferring a light fertile soil.  Sow seed direct into the garden for best results or they can be planted into pots for equally good results. Beetroots will only take 6 weeks to reach maturity.
 
Enjoy this selection of colourful varieties most of the year:
 
‘Chiogga’ Beetroot - Also called Candy Stripe, this variety has red skin but when cut displays red and white rings. This variety is also sweet when eaten and keeps its beautiful colour  and pattern.
 
‘Burpees Golden’ Beetroot– Sweet flavoured with gorgeous golden colour, the tops can be used in the same way as Spinach. This variety has an excellent flavour and is non-staining.
 
‘Bulls Blood’ Beetroot – Produces very attractive dark red leaves that can be used in salads and cooked as well. This beetroot has a good flavour with a dark red root zone.
 
You can not beat freshly pulled Carrots for aroma and taste; carrots only take 70-90 days before the eating stage. The darker the colour the carrot is the greater the flavour and the health benefits available. Carrots can be sown all year but they do prefer cooler weather. The soil texture is the most important thing when growing carrots, it needs to be open-textured so they do not ‘fork’ or become stunted while growing. Carrots need to be sown direct into the prepared soil and thinned out once they have reach 5cm in height.
 
Coloured carrot varieties are:
 
Atomic Red’ Carrot – Bright red root, growing up to 25cm long, this variety has a sweet flavour high in antioxidant’s that is fantastic for juicing and for producing baby carrots.
 
‘Cosmic Purple’ Carrot – Smooth purple coloured skin with orange flesh, this is a coreless variety that is high in anti oxidants and only takes 58 days until maturity. Image on right.
 
‘Solar Yellow’ Carrot – A yellow carrot growing to 18cm long with a delicious sweet and crunchy flavour. This variety is an early to mature only taking 65 days to reach maturity.
 
Kale is a highly nutritious vegetable, a member of the Brassica family this plant produces crinkly dark green leafy foliage that is high in vitamins and minerals. Sow kale in well drained soil in a sunny position, keeping moist. The leaves should be picked as needed. Some coloured varieties of kale are:
 
‘Red Russian’ Kale – The leaves produced are blue-green with purplish red veins; they have a sweet flavour eaten fresh when young or steamed. Very hardy and easy to grow.
 
‘Black Toscana’ Kale – Produces long dark green foliage that is highly nutritious and sweet in flavour.
 
 
‘Dwarf Blue Curled’ Kale (Image Below) – This variety is a compact variety with curly blueish-green leaves. A very attractive addition to the home or ornamental garden.
Cabbages are another vegetable that can be grown by their colours. Cabbages are high in calcium and iron, they like fertile well drained soil grown in a sunny position. Cabbages will take 4-5 months to mature and are frost hardy.
 
A variety of coloured cabbage is:
'Chinese Michihil' Cabbage - tall upright and cylindrical in shape to 25cm . Dark green leaves with a lighter green inside the heart of the cabbage.
 
'Golden Acre' Cabbage - Eaarky producer, light green heads to 1.5kg, 80 days to maturity.
 
‘Red’ Cabbage – This variety produces a sensational red-purple colour leaves with a medium sized head. Adds attractive colour to salads and garden beds during winter.
 
'Savoy Verona Purple' Cabbage - Can grow to 3-4kg head in 90 days, purple leaves. Store well.
 
'Savoy Vertus' Cabbage - A green crinkly leafed cabbage to 20cm.  ideal for salads and coleslaws.
 
Shallots  are another variety with a few options to grow in colour. Shallots grow to 50cm tall, best sown direct into the garden but they can also be sown into pots or planters. Shallots are ideal used fresh in salads or cooking.
 
Coloured variety is:
 
‘Red Beard’ Shallot – A very colourful plant that will grow up to 70cm with attractive red/burgundy stalks up to 30cm. This vegetable adds lovely colour to fresh foods and cooked dishes.

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