Purple Vegetables for Autumn Gardens

Purple Vegetables for Autumn Gardens

Well, it wasn't a surprise to anyone that I would end up writing the blog about Purple Autumn Vegetables. (I have a well-deserved reputation at work for making the most of my purple opportunities!). But what's not to love about purple vegetables?
For the purposes of this blog post, we could rewrite the classic saying “Eat your greens” to read “Eat your Purples”. Not only do purple vegetables provide colour and interest in your garden and on your plate, the purple colour is also a cue for nutritional power.
It’s all about a little something called anthocyanin. This plant compound, or phytonutrient, is responsible for the rich purple colour. Anthocyanins belong to the flavonoid family of plant compounds and are valued for their potential disease-fighting benefits. Studies suggest anthocyanins might help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer. Some evidence indicates these purple pigments might protect our brains as we age.
If you are keen to get some purple vegetables growing in your garden through the autumn/winter season, then here are some suggestions for seeds you could sow now to get the ball rolling:
Beetroot is a wonderful winter vegetable to add some colour to your plate....you could try growing Beetroot Kestrel - this hybrid beetroot has a monogerm seed rather than a cluster - which makes for easier thinning.
If you want a fantastic taste sensation, you could try this very simple but elegant recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for Beetroot, Mozzarella and Balsamic Vinegar Salad - click the picture on the left for the recipe.
Or click here for a wonderful Beetroot Hummus Recipe from Nicola Galloway's blog - Home-grown Kitchen.
Purple Sprouting Broccoli
Purple Sprouting Broccoli has been hugely popular with the Kings Seeds staff. These plants grow to a truly impressive size, and produce vast quantities of tender broccoli shoots, over an extended harvest season. Now that autumn is here, sow Broccoli Sprouting Winter Rudolph and look forward to your harvest! Don't forget to pinch out the growing tip when the plant has bulked up.
Carrot Purple Dragon
Another purple vegetable you could sow now is Carrot Purple Dragon. With its pretty purple colouring, it enchants children who have never seen carrots any colour but orange.
If you would like some carrot sowing info, you might find it worth revisiting our blog post on growing carrots. It has some information on different types of carrots, as well as growing advice.
Cauliflower Violet Sicilian
I think that Cauliflower Violet Sicilian might win the prize for the most spectacular purple vegetable on our list this week. You can sow your seeds now, but don't forget to keep them well protected from the last of the white cabbage butterflies - they are still out in enough numbers to do some serious damage to brassica seedlings.
For some winter colour on your plate, you could try this recipe:
Colourful Cardamom Roasted Cauliflower
  • 1/4 Cup extra-virgin olive oil plus extra for oiling roasting pan
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 1-2 dried red chillies or 1 fresh Thai chilli (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 1 head cauliflower (about 1kg), cored and broken into medium florets ... OR ...
  • ....about 1kg of florets from purple, white and orange cauliflower heads !!
  • 1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 220°C. Oil a roasting dish with olive oil and set aside.
  2. Grind the cardamom pods, chilies, coriander, cumin and whole peppercorns in a coffee grinder, mini food processor or mortar and pestle until fine. Mix the spices with oil in a large bowl. Add the cauliflower florets and onions and toss to coat. Add additional oil if necessary.
  3. Transfer the vegetables to the roasting dish and spread evenly. Roast until the cauliflower is tender and the onions are caramelised (about 30-35 minutes), stirring halfway through.
  4. Transfer to large bowl, sprinkle with salt and toss, adjust salt to taste and serve. (Add the salt after roasting. While it's easier to salt the vegetables before roasting, the salt draws out the moisture in the vegetables, which makes them harder to brown and caramelise.)
  5. Serve and enjoy!
Other purple vegetables you could sow now include the red-purple lettuces. Some varieties you could try are Lettuce Danyelle and Lettuce Cocarde.
Lettuces are a cool weather crop and it will be nice to enjoy them now that this extremely long, hot, dry summer is drawing to a close.
Onion Purplette
Another gorgeous little purple treasure is Onion Purplette. This is an attractive little onion that makes a pretty pink pickled onion.

Onion Purplette can be harvested when small and is a good variety to sow now for some delightful little onions later on.
Radish Purple Plum

For a bit of purple for those of us who don't like to wait, what about sowing some purple radishes? Radishes are ready quickly and add a bit of zing to those autumn salads. For those of you who like to branch out, you could try this recipe for Grilled Radishes with Tarragon Vinaigrette.
Turnip Milan White Red Top
A final suggestion for your autumn sowing is turnips. Try growing Turnip Milan White Red Top. With its white bulb with bright purple/red shoulders, these little roots are easy to grow and are lovely picked young and tender.

Sow your seed directly where they are to grow, at a depth approximately twice the diameter of the seed. Turnips are best planted at soil temperatures between 12°C and 30°C, and can be sown in temperate areas of New Zealand until the end of April. Space plants 12-20cm apart - they will be ready to harvest in 45-65 days. Sow every three or four weeks for a continuous supply and keep them watered regularly.

Imagine walking through your garden in late autumn and winter and seeing some of these wonderful purple vegetables growing in your garden beds. Not only cheerful and colourful for the eye, but also delicious AND of course healthy. Now is the time to get sowing! I'm definitely already a convert to purple vegetables. At present, in our home garden, we are harvesting purple beans, eggplants, indigo rose tomatoes, and purple capsicums, so we definitely have our purple bases well covered! We hope we have given you a few ideas of what you could get growing in your home garden.

And finally, everyone at Kings Seeds would like to wish you a wonderful Easter! If you have some little people about, how about spending some time with them making some naturally dyed Easter eggs - check out these suggestions for natural Easter Egg dyes we found at Heidi's Cottage:
Happy Easter Everyone!
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