Choosing which plants to plant, following the right agronomic criteria, as well as our tastes and desires, is not a simple matter. If you are amateur gardeners, perhaps with limited land at your disposal, and trying your hand at gardening for the first time, the choice of what to sow in the vegetable garden becomes essential for finding satisfaction in your work.
Today, we propose to make a seed selection by getting to know the vegetables that end up on our tables better, considering them from a natural perspective, that is, based on their color and nutritional properties.
Vegetable Garden Sowing. Difference between Vegetables and Greens
Before diving into vegetable garden sowing, let’s start with an etymological distinction, namely the difference between “vegetables” and “greens,” which often creates a bit of confusion. “Vegetables” encompass all the products from our garden, be they pumpkins or lettuces, onions or spinach, tomatoes or chard—everything that is cultivated in the garden is considered a vegetable. On the other hand, the term “greens” has a gastronomic and nutritional meaning, representing the part of the plant that is used in cooking.
Based on the part of the plant we use in the kitchen, we can distinguish vegetables into: fruit vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplants, etc.), seed vegetables (broad beans, peas, beans, lentils, etc.), leafy vegetables (all types of lettuce, chard, radicchio, etc.), flower vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, artichokes, etc.), stem vegetables (celery and fennel), bulb vegetables (garlic and onion), root vegetables (carrot and beetroot), tuber vegetables (potato).
Choosing plants based on color and nutritional properties
Choosing to plant white plants
For this method of vegetable garden sowing based on color, let’s start with white, which immediately brings to mind vegetables such as garlic and potatoes. However, this color category also includes onions and legumes. The white color is due to compounds like quercetin, and these vegetables are rich in minerals, fibers, and vitamins that benefit the whole body.
As an example, let’s take garlic, an easy vegetable to cultivate even in small spaces. For its sowing, you simply need to take a single clove and bury it about 5 cm deep in loose and compact soil.
Garlic is highly resistant to cold; it is sown between October and December and does not require additional irrigation if grown outdoors. Garlic is rich in sulfur compounds, which give it its strong odor, and it has antioxidant and antihypertensive properties, making it suitable for those with hypertension. It is also rich in fiber and vitamins and should be consumed in larger quantities (despite the impact on romantic relationships…).
Choosing to plant yellow and orange plants
The second color we consider for our vegetable garden sowing is the yellow/orange of vegetables like squash, carrots, and peppers. The typical and unmistakable color is due to the presence of beta-carotene, which is converted by the body into vitamin A. These vegetables also contain vitamins belonging to groups B, C, and E, starch, and minerals.
As an example, let’s take squash. The seeds, preserved from the pumpkins consumed the previous winter, can be placed directly in the ground, about 3-4 in small holes not too deep (2-3 cm), at least 1.5 meters apart from each other. This is because squash plants require a lot of space to grow and develop a lot of vegetation, especially in length. The recommendation is to sow them outside the field to avoid interfering with other plants. They need a lot of sun and, in the warmer months, good water support.
They are usually harvested in September-October, and if stored in a cool and dry place, they last all winter. Squash is very low in calories and can be considered a dietetic vegetable, but it is rich in vitamin A and other important minerals such as iron, calcium, and potassium.
Choosing to plant blue and violet plants
The third color we’ll explore for our vegetable garden sowing is the blue/violet of eggplants and radicchio. This color comes from anthocyanins, which are pigments. The main nutritional properties of these vegetables are their antioxidants.
In this article, we will talk about radicchio, while eggplant (a solanaceous plant) will be covered in-depth in future articles.
Radicchio is a vegetable of Italian origin, and the Treviso area is renowned worldwide for its cultivation. The best time to transplant it is at the end of summer, in very fertile and soft soil. It is arranged in rows at least 20 cm apart from each other. It is harvested after about three months of cultivation and, if not grown in a greenhouse, it does not require much water. Nutritionally, it is rich in vitamins A and B, as well as fiber, and if not cooked, it contains vitamin C.
Choosing to plant green plants
The fourth color is green, perhaps the most obvious when thinking about vegetables. This color family includes zucchini, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, beans, etc. These are all vegetables with low-calorie content, rich in folates and carotenes, namely provitamin A.
We will postpone further insights into vegetables such as beans and zucchini. As an example, in this article on vegetable garden sowing, we take spinach, which can be sown directly almost every month of the year.
The only months to avoid are those at risk of frost since the small seedlings would suffer. They can be sown randomly and thinned out later and need a lot of water, avoiding waterlogging that would turn the leaves yellow. Nutritionally, spinach is rich in folic acid and vitamin C, but it is famous and known for its significant iron content.
Choosing to plant red plants
The fifth and last color to consider for completing vegetable garden sowing by color is the red of tomatoes. The organic cultivation of tomatoes will be the subject of numerous in-depth articles. In this phase, we briefly mention the nutritional properties of this delicious fruit, namely its high vitamin C content. Just 200 grams of raw tomatoes are enough to cover 44% of the daily vitamin C requirement, as well as the presence of lycopene, an antioxidant carotenoid of which tomatoes are a primary source.