Blue means healthyPublished 6:18am Monday, April 21, 2014 Updated 8:19am Monday, April 21, 2014
Last year, as a trick on Petunia, Bunkey planted purple beans. The first time she went to the garden to pick them, she came running back to the house as though her hair was on fire.
“Bunkey, those beans have some kind of a disease,” she yelled. She did not, at all, appreciate his doubling up with laughter.
He explained that they were supposed to be purple and that they would turn green when cooked just like the purple asparagus did.
There are several other blue to purple vegetables that he is going to try this summer. Not only for the novelty of it but, blue vegetables, like blue fruit, contain anthocyanins, an antioxidant.
Antioxidants are said to “help to slow the aging process, prevent blood clots, protect against heart disease and tumors, fight allergies and inflammation,” according to the Sanford Cancer Institute. What the center doesn’t say is they may not taste as good as the regular green types.
These suggestions are from Samantha Johnson, an author of several gardening books. She gardens in northern Wisconsin, a zone 3 area.
Lets’ start with a blue podded pea. The name might put you off. It’s Blauwschokkers. It has purple flowers followed by deep purple pods. The peas inside are green. Samantha suggests this vegetable as an ornamental as the fresh peas are not very flavorful. She makes pea soup from them. They were very productive with pods coming all summer.
How about blue corn? Blue Jade is small enough for a container, only about 3 feet tall with 4 to 6 inch ears. The kernels are a metallic blue and the ears are ripe in only 70 to 80 days. Perfect for our short season. Harvest them early as the sugar content drops as the corn matures.
If you are into fall decorations, start Jarrahdale pumpkins indoors as it takes 100 days for this native of New Zealand to mature. You will be rewarded with a slightly flattened shaped pumpkin, similar to Cinderella. The color is a slate blue with tones of green and gray. Sam doesn’t say if it is edible, but what the heck, if it looks good with your fall decorations, who cares.
In the same family, but edible, is Queensland blue squash. This one comes from “down under,” Australia and needs 120 days to mature. It’s described as a lumpy blue gray with meaty textured flesh.
You may have already tried blue spuds. They are easy to tell from the regular colors of potatoes when they produce their first leaves. They are a blue-green. The potatoes are mild flavored and best roasted. Do not, under any circumstances, use these spuds for lefsa. That is, unless you can choke down gray lefsa. It looks as though the cook has added floor sweepings to the dough. Oof da.
You might want to skip the blue tomatoes. They don’t have the best flavor. They are pretty however.
The moral of this week is, plant blue vegetables and freak out your neighbors.
Bev Johnson is an Extension Master Gardener in Otter Tail County.