The Color Purple

Healthy eating is a skyrocketing trend.  Few people can be unaware of recent studies that show blueberries are “superfood.”  Kale has become the new “foodie fad,” in everything from chips, soups, salads, and smoothies.  Everyone is aware that eating brightly colored foods (That’s naturally colored, no No. 2 red or other artificial coloring allowed!) is the healthy choice.  Sales of fresh red, yellow and orange peppers, rainbow carrots, citrus and berries have soared.  However, one researcher announced that if he could only eat one color, it would be purple.  Why purple?  Purple fruits and vegetables contain anthrocyanins, which have been shown to repress cancer, help control blood sugar, reduce memory loss and other perils of aging.  So, with this in mind, I decided to review my seed order and make a few revisions and additions to add more purple to our diet.

basil amethyst johnnhys

I always grow lots of purple basil, and “Amethyst” is the darkest, best one I have found.  It holds its color, is very uniform with good flavor.  Available from Johnny’s and lots of other sources.

Bean Royal Burgundy

“Royal Burgundy” bush beans have been in my garden every year since the mid-70’s, and always will.  I love, love, love their deep purple color.  They seem to have fewer insect problems, are very productive, and easier to see so harvesting is faster.  Easy to find from most seed sources.

red cabbage

Having often visited Germany, I’m already a fan of red cabbage.  I’ve chosen “Red Primero,” which matures in 72 days, but I’ve also grown Red Acre, which may be easier to find.

Celery RedVenture

I’d initially picked “Peppermint Stick” celery, but now it’s going to be “Red Venture” for it’s darker reddish-purple coloring.  I’ve never grown celery, so this will really be an “adventure.” “Red Venture” can be found at Seeds of Change, Pinetree, and many other suppliers.

Mustard Bloody Mary Mizuna Red streak rareseeds

“Bloody Mary” mustard is a very dark purple green, as is “Purple” Pak choi, and I’ve added “Red Streak” mizuna.  Both of these will be early crops, with a peppery flavor to add to salads.  “Rossa di Chioggia” radicchio performed very well for me last year, so it will have a place in my new potager, along with “Early Purple” kohlrabi and “Purple Top” turnips.

lettuce Midnight Ruffles rareseeds  red romaine

If I didn’t already have four kinds of kale seed leftover from last year, I’d probably add one of the newer “red” varieties.  I did add “Midnight Ruffles” (above) and “Red Romaine” lettuce, and if I need more seed later, I’d add “Merlot,” which is supposedly the darkest of all with an excellent flavor.  Look for them  at, Pinetree, and others.

Pepper Merlot

I’d already selected plenty of peppers for the potager, but I’ve decided to add “Merlot,” a large, almost-black bell pepper.  And, although I’d selected “Casper” eggplant for it’s reported “mushroomy” flavor, I switched to “Patio Baby,” which is purple.  Flea beetles always take a toll on eggplants I’ve tried in the past.  I’m hoping a smaller, faster-maturing one will have a better chance of producing.  I also added another beet, “Ruby Queen.”  One can never have too many beets.

tomato cherokee carbon  tomato indigo cherry johnnys

Last year, I tried a nearly-black heirloom tomato that several friends recommended, “Carbon.”  Maybe it was because I started them later than the others, or because it was not a good year for tomatoes weather-wise, or I got so caught up in the details of selling and moving off the farm that they didn’t get enough watering, but I wasn’t thrilled with them.  So, this year, I’m trying “Cherokee Carbon,” (above left) which is a cross between “Cherokee Purple” and “Carbon.”  Should be interesting.  I’ve also added “Indigo Cherry Drops,” (above right) one of the new almost-black tomatoes with the highest levels of anthrocyanins and anti-0xidants.

Of course, I’ve already planted black raspberries, blackberries, elderberries, and “Black Velvet” gooseberries.  I’ll be adding Aronia and Jostaberries as soon as the plants arrive next spring.

I’ve already jotted down a few more that I might try next year:  purple carrots, purple cauliflower, purple broccoli, purple brussel sprouts and purple potatoes.  And, I’d like to add Concord grapes.  Are there other purple foods you’ve grown successfully, and enjoyed eating?

Now, I think I’ll have plenty of purple plants to pamper.  How many of them do you think I will be able to get David to eat?


About carolee

A former professional herb and lavender grower, now just growing for joy in my new potager. When I'm not in the garden, I'm in the kitchen, writing, or traveling to great gardens.
This entry was posted in Potager, purple vegetables, seed catalogs, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Color Purple

  1. Rita Shields says:

    Your purple produce purports to provide a prodigious potager harvest! Your potager looks so pretty with such possibilities. By the way, when you were discussing climbing plants I forgot to post to you that last year I grew Climbing Honey Nut, a baby butternut squash. My harvest was really good, despite being in humid, bug-ridden Georgia so you would probably have great luck with it. The fruits were really deep orange and sweet. I ordered the seeds from Renee’s Garden. I love her seeds, her website and her philosophy. This is a great variety for a family of two, which, like you, is now myself and my husband. I have enough seeds left to plant it again this season.


    • carolee says:

      Thanks,Rita. I’ll look for the squash. I love Renee Shepherd’s seeds, too. She is a great supporter of Garden Writers and really tests the crops before she offers them for sale. Keep growing!


  2. Karen B says:

    Love, love, LOVE this post! I love dark purple, almost black flowers and grow many different kinds. I also grow a purple Cauliflower called Graffiti. It is stunning! I grow Purple Haze carrots and dark purple almost black peas called Shiraz. If ever you want me to post any seed just let me know. 😀


    • carolee says:

      More purple veggies to try! Thanks for the suggestions and the seed offer. Since I posted, I’ve added a purple-podded snow pea called “Little Purple,” which will be one of the first things I plant in the potager. We could swap seeds. I need to enrich my soil before I can grow cauliflower. At my homestead (in the 70’s and 80’s) cauliflower grew massive and tender because I had abundant rabbit droppings for that bed. Since then, without rabbits, I’ve failed miserably. I’ve put the purple carrots on the list for next year. When can you start planting?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Karen B says:

        I have seeds growing in the propagator inside in my studio already. There are some things I can start inside in Jan and Feb, but most things get started in March. My problem with Cauliflower is the wind. Once they start rocking in the ground then it is all over for them some years. 😦 I just discovered a new supplier in Belgium. Do you fancy taking a look? I set my laptop to always translate each page and then all is well. They have peas which flower at the top….worth a look
        They are
        Let’s swop seed! When do you start?


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