Diggin' It: Purple hits the garden

Purple isn’t just for decorating or clothes, you can enjoy it in your vegetables as well, such as this aerial radish called “Dragon’s Tail.”

Courtesy of W. Atlee Burpee Co.
Purple isn’t just for decorating or clothes, you can enjoy it in your vegetables as well, such as this aerial radish called “Dragon’s Tail.”

At this time of year when I’m dreaming of summer garden days but the weather is still not quite as hospitable as I’d prefer, I like to scope out new plants and possibilities for my garden. Although I’m more drawn to ornamentals, it’s also fun to see the new and unusual edibles that are out there as well.

Recently, while perusing various seed company websites, I was particularly drawn to purple vegetable plants.

Appealing to the gardener who enjoys growing something unique and fun, most are considered novelty vegetables but are still nutritious and delicious. And they can be enjoyed by kids and grandkids that may be a bit picky when it comes to eating their vegetables.

Interestingly while researching, I came across the term anthocyanins. We all know veggies are good for us and science continues to confirm this. Not only are purple veggies delicious, they contain anthocyanins, which offer a broad spectrum of health benefits including antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.

Here’s what I found. Territorial Seed Company has three types of purple broccoli that are bred to keep well into winter. They also have a purple cauliflower called “Mulberry,” a purple-leaved kale called “Scarlet Kale,” a burgundy lettuce called “Buckley,” a purple-podded snap pea called “Sugar Magnolia” and a purple-skinned potato with golden flesh called “Huckleberry Gold.”

Burpee has a potato called “Harvest Moon” that has variegated purple and cream skins.

Park Seed Company has a pretty, easy-to-grow, mustard plant with purple leaves called “Miz America.”

Harris Seeds has a gorgeous purple-rooted green scallion called simply, “Onion Red Bunching F1.”

Nichols Garden Nursery has a rare heirloom purple Brussels sprouts called “Red Rubine.” Wouldn’t that look pretty served in your best china on your Thanksgiving dinner table?

Nichols Garden Nursery also offers a cherry tomato called “Indigo Rose” with red and deep purple skins. Can you imagine?

Finally, featured on Burpee’s website, I found a new-to-me plant. Have you ever heard of an “aerial radish?” Here’s the description:

“Delicious raw or cooked, the plant-topping pods are deliciously crisp and tender. Meet ‘Dragon’s Tail,’ the breakout radish superstar for summer 2017. Our exclusive version of Asian heirloom aerial radish is unlike any radish you have ever seen or tasted. One-of-a-kind radish is grown not for its roots, but for the long, slender, curving, purple seedpods that grow in profusion above ground on breathtakingly pretty plants. Looking like lacy clouds that have alighted in the garden, 3-4 foot leafy plants first produce a serene cloud of pink and white wildflowers, followed by a glorious profusion of 3-6-foot purple and green seed pods. Delicious raw or cooked, the longer purple pods and shorter green pods are crisp and tender with a more nuanced spicy accent than a typical radish and with none of the harshness.”

If you grow this, please let me know. You can find me online at gracepete.blogspot. com.

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