Producing vivid, brilliant color is something that plants do amazingly well. Why not take advantage of their abilities and add some visual spice to your vegetable garden? Many vegetables have purple plant varieties and they are just as easy to grow organically as their more conventionally-colored cousins.
There are some vegetables, including eggplant and cabbage, that people expect to be purple. These will be less of a shock to the picky eaters in your family than purple cauliflower or potatoes. No matter what their reaction, it will be worth your while to convince them to eat their organic purple veggies.
According to the Texas A&M University Department of Horticulture, "Purple onions and cabbage have all the benefits of white onions and green cabbage but also a little added benefit of another phytochemical that acts as an antioxidant and can also improve memory. This phytochemical is what gives the purple color" For the curious, these phytochemicals include anthocyanins and phenolics.
Some varieties of these normally purple vegetables that are suited to organic growing are Pingtung Long Eggplant (a long, narrow, slicing eggplant), Purplette Summer Onions and Super Red 80 Cabbage, a variety that is great for planting in close spacing to make single-serving cabbages.
If you are looking for some beautiful surprises in your garden, there is a long list of purple vegetable varieties. These include basil, carrots, garlic, leafy vegetables (usually referred to as greens), potatoes, turnips, radishes, string beans, beets and cauliflower.
Purple vegetable varieties for your organic garden
Basil: Red Ruben
Bush Bean: Royal Burgundy
Beet: Bull's Blood
Mustard Green: Red Giant
Carrot: Cosmic Purple
Potato: All Blue
Eggplant: Pingtung Long
Tomato: Pruden's Purple
Garlic: Russian Red
Turnip: Purple Top
Radish: Plum Purple
Purple vegetables are delicious as well as healthful. Although many of them fade when cooked (the purple snap beans fade to a more conventional green), others, such as the beets and their tops, add a beautiful, bright red color to your recipes. Purple vegetables taste the same as their more normally colored counterparts; for instance, a purple carrot still tastes like an orange carrot and can be used the same way for cooking. By growing purple vegetables, you are adding pizzazz to your garden and your dinner plate. You also stand to gain some nutritional benefits without sacrificing flavor or yield and without having to make changes to your tried-and-true gardening techniques. All you have to do is keep an open mind and possibly explain to some folks that, yes, green beans can be purple.
All too often, eggplant gets a bum rap. People complain that it's hard to grow, hard to cook bitter tasting and not diet friendly. Not surprisingly, it's not included, or even welcome, in many an organic garden. Are these accusations against eggplant true, or do the gardeners of America owe eggplant a collective apology?
One of the most important things you can pass along to kids is the love and importance of organic gardening. Organic gardens are free of chemicals and much better for the environment. Organic gardening is a state of mind.