Gardening Magazine

The Benefits of a Colourful Harvest

By Mwillis
Growing vegetables involves quite a lot of preparation, maintenance and above all, waiting, but if all goes well a nice harvest will reward your efforts.
The benefits of a colourful harvest
This is my harvest from the last day of July, beautifully diverse and colourful. In the basket are Iceberg lettuce "Great Lakes", beetroot "Boltardy", carrots "Harlequin" and "Chantenay", cucumber "Delikate B", tomatoes "Maskotka", potatoes "Foremost", French beans "Cobra" and "Kew Blue" and Runner beans "Painted Lady".
The benefits of a colourful harvest
They say that for maximum health benefits, your food should consist of different coloured items, so I think I should be OK!
Regular readers know that I never have huge harvests of anything, and I prefer to have small quantities of lots of different vegetables. This year there seems to be an exception to that rule - the carrots have done amazingly well, and my 3 x 2.4 meter rows will feed us for weeks. We are working our way through the early-maturing "Harlequin" multi-coloured ones, and the "Chantenay Red-cored", but I haven't yet made a start on the "Autumn King" maincrop ones. It's not all good news though - I am disappointed that hardly any of the purple carrots in the "Harlequin" mix came up (and those that did are tiny), and the "Chantenay Red-cored" ones - nice as they are - don't have red cores!
The benefits of a colourful harvest
In my garden July and August are the main harvesting months. Practically every day I harvest something, even if it's only a handful of beans or a couple of tomatoes. I find this much more in keeping with our lifestyle than harvesting a big crop of a particular vegetable all in one go. OK, there are some things for which the all-at-once harvesting approach may be appropriate (e.g. potatoes), but even so, by growing different varieties of each type of vegetable you can spread the harvests over a longer period. For instance, I have five different varieties of climbing bean this year: two of Runners, two of French, and one of Borlotti. Likewise, I have grown seven varieties of potato and sixteen varieties of tomato.
The benefits of a colourful harvest
If a novice gardener were to ask me for advice I think the best tip I could give would be "Grow lots of different types of veg". Using this approach you are much more likely to get a good harvest of something. Growing conditions vary from year to year, and some crops will always perform better than others. Likewise, it's not sensible to assume that just because one crop did well one year, it will also do well the next. The biggest factor affecting veg-growing is the weather, and no two years are the same, so it makes sense to hedge your bets.

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