Shiso Britton has a beautiful leaf color underside
Shiso Britton has a beautiful purple leaf color underside

My middle daughter painted her room purple one year, and my husband thought he would go insane. It was too funny watching him cringe every time he went into the room. She loved the color purple, and I have to agree I was a bit apprehensive at first, but it looked great! I am painting my garden with Anthocyanins rich organic foods just like my daughter took a risk and painted her room the color purple.

watermelon radish cut up...
watermelon radish cut up…

Due to the health benefits I will be trialing more purple/blue/deep red/orange foods in our urban potager over the next few years. They will be open-pollinated, non GMO, + those that taste the best. I am on the hunt for open-pollinated organic foods that are filled with the colors of anthocyanins!

September 26th 2012 pansy,red kale, potted plants for sale 001

Anthocyanin pigments are responsible for the “bright red-orange to blue-violet colors of many of the vegetables, fruits, cereal grains, and flowers we grow in our gardens. Bees are attracted to the color purple, blue, yellow , and white. I would say they are pretty smart about what makes them healthy! We need to pay attention to nature, and some of our answers to our health dilemmas will be obvious!

If we learn to grow anthocyanin rich foods on our city lots, we can help our bodies heal + battle illness on a daily basis! We need more scientific research on anthoycyanins, however, isn’t it great we are starting to understand how our foods can battle diseases?

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Over the years, we have planted blueberries, raspberries, currents, blackberries, a cherry tree + a plum-tree. This year I am trialing a variety of anthocyanin rich vegetables and fruits such as purple peas, beans, onions,Kale, leafy greens + root vegetables to find out how they taste. Creating a potager is all about   combining “colorful vegetables” with flowers + herbs to make a beautiful garden.

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The key is learning how to mix and mingle all the different types of plants. You have to plant vegetables that  are from the same family .The flowers + herbs you combine are those that are best for helping attract beneficials + repel pests in your garden. These two points are the foundations of your rotating beds. Once you meet the needs of vegetable families + companion plantings your other plants to integrate are based on your own preferences. Some plants may stay in the different beds, for example, I have many perennials that remain in my growing beds season to season. Mine will be different from yours we all are individuals, and an urban potager is an expression of the individual gardener.

Eat some anthocyanin rich foods for your health it will keep the doctor away!

Written by Robbie

M.S. Education, , Organic Gardener, soil + nature lover, former modern dancer

40 comments

    1. aww thank you Eliza, but I just can’t get motivated to get out there and take pictures of my muddy yard. I just want to see some green + start some purple! I want some food to eat from the yard:-)

      1. Oh, I hear you. How we crave fresh veggies! I am not eager to go out to take photos of more wintery scenes, my heart isn’t in it. However, my snowdrops next to the foundation are up, yay! We still have so much snow, but the forecast is warmer and rain tomorrow may melt a lot of it. C’mon Spring!

      2. ditto:-) I have to say your winter photos are really worth you getting out there!!!:-) That one with the clouds in the water needs to be in a contest! Stunning!

      1. Thanks for stopping by Robbie. Going slowly …very… just have a few seedling growing indoors for some vegetables. I hope to get a few fruit trees, based on the recommendations of the local vendors. Thanks for your continued encouragement…and for sharing your Potager garden with us all.

  1. Purple is and always has been my favorite color! I’ve never put any thought into eating purple items other than maybe a grape slurpee, but now, how could I not Lol! Love the photos so much!

  2. Anthocyanins? I don’t know why I never heard of them. I knew that orange veg and fruit are good for you but I didn’t know about purple ones. A great post as usual Robbie and wonderful photos.
    We are starting our raised veg beds today so shall be coming to you for ideas of what to grow.

    1. It is so interesting how the “anthocyanins” or colors really do make a difference in our health. There is an interesting purple snow pea ( from UK!) that is the first “purple mange-tout snow pea.” I am so excited to grow it out, and it is not as tall as others. I started some inside in paper pots since our winter is just not going away! You need to check this out since it does not get as tall from what I read:-) I am trying it in containers to see if it would work in them for people in small spaces. There is also a purple carrot ( Purple Sun Carrots found at Territorial Seed Company) which is loaded with anthocyanins. I hope my Peruvian purple fingerlings will not be snatched by the resident raccoon this year! He snatched them last year in the bed when I left them overnight before covering them! I am also trying some anthocyanin tomatoes ( indigo, blueberry), however, I have heard mixed reviews about their flavor, so I am a bit worried I will be disappointed. I will post these trials throughout the summer! I have to admit they can look beautiful, but they do have to taste good-lol!:-)

      http://www.seedtoday.com/articles/Intense_Breeding_Creates_Shiraz_Purple_Peas__ANI_-113056.html

  3. My body must be craving anthocyanins! Last week I ordered purple podded peas, purple Romagna artichokes and watermelon radish. Now I know why. I thought I just loved purple 🙂 Thx!

    1. lol:-) Another gardener told me that when you crave something it must mean your body is needing it-lol…, so I NEED chocolate! :-)Seriously I feel there is something to the purple color healing:-), so gobble them up!

    1. That is a really good question:-) I tried to search around for the answer, but only found one good source..it seems it might destroy some of the benefits how you cook anthocyanin rich vegetables. I usually eat the purple cauliflower /purple leafy veggies raw in salads. I have some purple snow peas that I use in the salads which I won’t cook, but you made me think it might be better to make bean salad with the purple beans:-)

      http://www.wholehealthchicago.com/396/anthocyanins/

  4. I can’t identify one food in this post. 😦 Are they all veggies or are some fruits? What do they taste like? These are all very pretty and I can imagine that not only do they enhance the look of your garden, but they can add appeal to the aesthetic impact on the plate (as well as being good for you). Thanks for sharing! 😀

    1. They taste great! You really don’t see them in the grocery store, but there are a lot of beautiful foods we can grow right where we live + they are not that hard to do:-)The top picture is of a Japanese Basil ( Shiso) leaf, the next is “watermelon Radish” just like your everyday radish,but has this lovely red center + some even looked like a beet:-), red oriental cabbage, Merlot red leaf lettuce, blue potatoes before planting them in the spring, purple pole beans (Trionfo Violetta pole bean), and red kale. You are right they are pretty, and eye candy! lol:-)

  5. Wow, Robbie… I must convey to you that I listened a lot to that rock group Deep Purple when I had more hair on my head… my dad ran a rice mill… one day, when he was out of town, and I was manning the mill, I put up a sign called ‘Deep Purple Rice Mill’… I think my dad was too shock to say anything then… anyway, right on with your intention to keep your potager colorful… if the moroheya germinated well, their red stems could help to add some color to your probably already colorful potager…

    1. Hi Lrong:-) I did not have many record ablums when younger,but Deep Purple was one of the few!!!lol. We all were a lot younger:-) You were a rebellious youth:-)I love color-can’t ya tell:-)I am so thankful for the seed + the card they came in was quiet beautiful ,too. If you ever see anything you would like to grow from my potager-please ask + I would enjoy sending you seed for your potager. I will have to ask you + your misses how to cook it though, but I am excited to grow out the Moropheya!

  6. My grandmother swore that a meal was incomplete and unhealthy if it did not include *at least* four colors on the plate: usually that meant a meat color, a starch color and TWO vegetable colors — one green and one yellow/orange/red. I think our “three color” dinner palette (brown, white, green) is lacking in exactly the color vegetables you are growing. I’ve never seen watermelon radishes by the way. Your photo makes them look absolutely luscious, so I’ll be on the lookout!

    1. Your grandmother was a wise woman:-) The watermelon radish is better planted in the fall since it is a larger radish, but it is so worth the wait! Here, is a site that sells the radish and it is known by other names,too. I have found they need a longer growing span than the purple, or French radish. I found them to have variatons on the inside color which surprised me last year. They looked like a beet inside, but they were a radish-all those anthocyanins!

      http://sustainableseedco.com/heirloom-vegetable-seeds/pe-t/radish-heirloom-seeds/watermelon-radish-seeds.html

      1. lol…yes, I did , but I wanted you to know which one it was since it goes by different names:-) You can find it other places under different names, however, they are a nice seed company too!:-)

    1. lol…you would of hated the color she picked before, kind of an army green!I was a nice mom since it was their space + I could paint over it later!

  7. Beautiful Robbie! Thanks for all the info….did not know all this about purple veggies. Always learn something new on your blog! The watermelon radish….must give it a try in the fall garden this year. I planted some red (purple) romaine seeds that Baker Creek added to my seed order, but a chipmunk decided that where I planted them was where he wanted to plant some sunflower seeds! stinker. Guess I’ll replant and give it another go. 🙂

    1. Those chipmunks are such little stinkers, but so cute! I had to put some netting around my beans last year + a poor little chipmunk got caught up in my netting. I felt so badly for him that I cut him loose and he waited while I did:-) It is a challenge early in the year before everything greens up. I am so glad you might try the watermelon radish they are really pretty sliced over a salad!

  8. I enjoyed reading your post. It reminded me of my grandmother who lived on a small city lot that was filled with a garden 🙂

    1. I don’t know if it was my grandparents or my parents that got me growing, but I have always said there must be a “garden gene” since it seems to run in families:-) My brother + I both garden:-)

  9. I am still recovering from our latest snowfall – it was a heavy blow – but these beautiful vegetable photos are sure inspiring! I love beets. We core them, insert a garlic clove, drizzle of olive oil and then wrap in foil and grill – it smells so good! Your garden is so, so beautiful. Bon Appetit!

    1. thank you for loving the purple+ red veggies! You are so right about beets-yum…it is getting closer to eating time, I planted my cole crops yesterday, and now it is just a matter of will the critters get them before me-lol:-)Bon Appetit to you too!

  10. What a fascinating post Robbie. You’ve done your usual excellent job of talking about an important part of gardening. Your garden is lovely and exciting. I’d love to tour it sometime in person! I love these purple leafed plants too. Also the berries and fruits that are purple and red. I discovered I have the new “Super food” in my Aronia, or Black Cherry “Nero” that has more anthocyanins than any other food by far. I intend to make juice of it this year. It’s a small shrub that forms a thicket and is just covered with berries. Very cool. And a very cool post too. 🙂
    Hope you get into your garden more soon,
    Steve

    1. You are welcome to tour anytime if you ever are out this way:-) It is not very big garden,but I do pack a lot in the garden! I have wanted to grow the Aronia,but sort of was afraid to try since it our winters are rather harsh. What type of space does it need to grow/zone? I am putting in Lingonberry, cranberries, more blueberry, raspberry, + strawberries this year:-) I am keeping my fingers crossed that I will be successful:-)

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