Think outside the Colour Box

We eat with our eyes right? I love the idea that my vegetable garden is a feast for the palette as well as the taste buds. So like a big kid in a sweet shop, I look at the packets of seeds on offer and I’m tempted by names, the stories behind the varieties and yes, the colours.

And of course if you are growing your own vegetables you get to choose what you want to grow and eat, varieties that aren’t seen in the shops, stuff that looks a little different, but tastes fantastic.

Lets take one example, orange carrots. What’s wrong with orange carrots? Nothing, but originally they were either yellow or red. Orange coloured carrots made their appearance in the Netherlands in the 17th century. So address your letter of complain to the Dutch.

So consumer expectations now dictate that carrots are orange, we expect it, or beetroot to be a deep red/burgundy colour. What beetroot in different colours? Yes those too! A lot of variations have been bred out by seed companies, the shops want uniformity. Dull, dull, dull !

It does initially throw people off-balance when they see vegetables a different colour to the norm, especially kids; but guess what, they taste like vegetables should! A homegrown carrot is a tasty thing, whatever it’s colour. But isn’t it fun to play with your food? You bet! It’s fun to change and challenge, oh and to play…..

Some of the colourful varieties I grow ~

  • Beetroot – white, pink, golden ~ Albino, di Choggia, Burpees Golden

  • Radish – yellows, reds, whites, oranges ~ Mooli, Black Spanish Round, Hilds Blauer Herbst Und Winter

  • Cauliflower – purple and orange ~ Cauliflower Cheddar and Purple Sicily
  • Potatoes – Salad  Blue, Red Duke of York

  • Brussel sprouts – purple ~ Falstaff
  • Carrots – yellow, white, purple, reds – Yellowstone, Purple Haze
  • Peas – purple ~Robinson’s Purple Podded, Carruthers’ Purple Podded

  • Pak ChoyRed
  • Climbing French Beans – yellow, purple – Cherokee Trail of Tears, Sweet Australian Purple

  • Climbing Shelling Beans – like Major Cooke or Borlotti

  • Chard – Red, Yellow ~ Ruby, Bright Lights, Yellow
  • Courgettes – they don’t have to be green. Yellow, pale green/white, dark green/black – Cavili, Jemmer are 2 of my favourites to grow and eat

  • Tomatoes – yellow cherries and then start thinking Blue, like Blue OSU, and for next year I’ve been eyeing up green and striped tomatoes.
  • Chillies – from reds and greens to yellows and purples like Pretty In Purple

  • Pumpkins and Squash – every hue including orange 🙂

Some of these varieties are centuries old, so why not turn the clocks back a little?

And as the seed catalogues arrive and the winter evenings are drawing in, I get to drool over pictures of scrumptious looking vegetables, and start to dream of next year’s colourful bounty.


  • I love the idea of using different color potatoes to make homemade french fries–They look even more tempting than normal to chow down on! I grew up with my mom always saying to make your plate as colorful as possible, and I’m now seeing how this can be an easy trick to eating a balanced diet.

  • This is one of the reasons I’m a “regular” at my area’s farmer’s markets. More so each year, the vendors bring vegetables to the markets in a variety of colors. Have you seen white eggplant? As for planting green tomatoes, how will you know when they’re ripe? 🙂

    • Farmer’s markets have really opened up what people can buy and eat. I’ve seen pictures of white eggplants, but never grown them. I have trouble trying to grow them full stop! I sometimes see that sort of thing in the Oriental shops.
      Oh, and green tomatoes, yes it will be one of 2012’s learning curve 🙂

  • I really like your emphasis on color. I have added a few different varieties of beets this year. I have always had a variety of peppers, but have not ventured off into non- carrot colored carrots. You have stimulated my interests. Thanks

    • Thank you, it’s a real pleasure to share (my limited) knowledge and experience. The coloured carrots are delicious, I just keep forgetting to take photos of them!

  • Lovely photos, it is so much fun to try vegetables in a new color and flavor! One reason I signed up for a CSA weekly box of produce was to experiment with the vibrant array of seasonal offerings.

  • A delicious post if ever I saw one. Every so often, my local supermarket will have vegetables of a different color. I’ll give it a try — just to make the plate more interesting. Cheers!

  • This post is made of pure win! Such pretty colors, I love that you went through and shared some of the names of the variety you grow with us. I’m hoping my purple carrots and beans do well this year. I’m also trying to get my one little golden egg eggplant sprout to thrive, but she’s not budging much!

  • Woo Hoo the vegetable rainbow, now we must get together and talk about the potatoes, I desperately want both of them . Evidenlty those red ones or is the the blue ones i forget, but they are low in carbs and higher in antioxidants, I need to do more research.. do they grow well, do you grow them from seed or tubers.. ?.. c

    • Hiya, OK, I think it is the Blue poatoes(Salad Blue) that are high in antioxidants, but only think. What I do know is that they make truly delicious chips. The Reds I’ve grown have been Red Duke of York (early and yum) and Desire, perfect for roasting.

      One thing I’ve found with spuds though is that they vary from from one garden to the next. there is a truly gorgeous new potato – Lady Crystal, which gets rave reviews. I grew it and it was tasteless. Humph. Doesn’t like my soil!!

      But for all things potato related I’d check out Tom Wagner. He is a real inspiration, and he sells seeds and tubers. His blog is wonderful – and the seed site , well I could spend a fortune! I’m eyeing up some of his tomatoes…….

  • WOW! Amazing colours… but red pakchoy?? that’s new. Can you share some photos?
    And those fries look so nice I want to bite my monitor.

    BTW, thanks for dropping by mine. I might pop round to ask for help sometime! ;p

    • Hi Welly 🙂 it’s that time of year isn’t it, when we start to look through the seed catalogues and start planning and dreaming of next year’s garden bounty

  • These are the most gorgeous photos of vegetables. Really, I think if more people grew these more beautifully-colored vegetables, we would all be a lot healthier. Kids would be so intrigued by the looks of these veggies, how could they resist? Looks like I need to start ordering seeds for next year…

  • I have serious envy for your variety of veggies. I’m just getting started with a small veg garden here in Southern US, zone 8b. Many a year since I grew vegetables. I do eat them. 🙂 Your post gives me some great ideas, and yes, color is vital to me in food, and all around me. Color makes everything taste better. Thanks for your great site!

    • Hi and thanks for popping in.
      And I’m so pleased that I’ve given you some inspiration, I love sharing ideas and experience, so your compliments are even greater 🙂

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