The Vegie Patch

One aspect of my Royal Show feature garden titled ‘Garden for Life’ that I am very excited about is the vegie patch. There is nothing particularly new or different about having a vegie garden in a display, however we aim to show a kaleidoscope of colour with five different vegie beds demonstrating the five main colours of vegies.

From a nutritional perspective, it is recommended that we eat two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables each day (one serve of vegetables is 75 grams or a half a cup of cooked vegetables, one cup of salad vegetables or one medium potato). Eating five serves of potatoes (especially in the form of chips!?) does not count. Fruits and vegetables are filled with vitamins, minerals and fibre and having an adequate intake of them in your diet can protect you against a number of serious diseases such as certain types of cancer and coronary heart disease, as well as helping with other serious conditions including obesity and high blood pressure.

lots of vegetables

When striving for this healthy diet, it is important to have a variety of fruit and vegetables every day, in both raw and cooked forms. Different types of fruits and vegetables, as well as different colours, contain a variety of nutrients, known as phytochemicals that provide essential health benefits as well as their distinctive colour. One easy way to achieve the five vegetable servings in your diet is to eat every colour of vegetables every day, and of course the best source of vegetables is your own backyard. Below are the five major phytochemical colour groups, their major health giving roles and the coloured vegetable that can be grown in your backyard. Many of these coloured vegetables are heirloom varieties and although once rare, they are now readily available from seed.


green vegetable signGreen is the most common colour in the vegetable patch, which is apt because it the most important of all vegetable colours when it comes to human health! Leafy green vegetables provide a range of nutrients and are rich in antioxidants – compounds that work to combat free-radicals, which cause cell damage and are thought to contribute to the development of a number of diseases. Green vegies include spinach, silver beet, broccoli, celery, asparagus, peas, Asian greens like Pak Choy and Mizuna, and salad greens like lettuce and rocket, cucumbers, capsicums, zucchini, beans and herbs such as parsley.

Blue and Purple

Blue and purple vegies get their colour from anthocyanins and resveratrol and these act as antioxidants as well as having a mild anti-bacterial effect. They support vision health and heart health and may have a cancer protective effect. These vegies include blue and purple kales and cabbages, purple carrots, purple broccoli, purple Brussels sprouts, eggplant, purple beans, purple asparagus, purple potatoes and purple capsicum.


The orange colour of carrots has been renowned to improve your eyesight, but the same is true of other orange and yellow vegetables. Vegetables with this colour are rich in carotenoids, terpenes and flavonoids (quercetin). These phytochemicals act as antioxidants and are also beneficial for eye health and healthy immune function. These vegies include golden beetroot, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, yellow capsicums, yellow tomatoes, yellow zucchini and squash.


Red coloured veggies contain the phytochemicals lycopene and ellagic acid and they act as antioxidants, to protect against chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Any red vegetables will contain these beneficial compounds including beetroot, radish, red lettuces, red pak choy, red mustards, tomatoes, capsicums and chillies.


White vegetables contain allicin and quercetin, believed to have a beneficial effect in maintaining healthy bones, circulatory health and arterial function. Potatoes, cauliflower, parsnip, turnip, onions, leeks, garlic and mushrooms are the classic white vegetables.

The vegie beds in ‘Garden for Life’ will be recycled apple crates. These wooden crates are cheap and often used to make quick raised beds or wicking beds. While they won’t last forever they are a great option for a quick, above ground build.

Making sure that you do eat vegetables from each of the five different colour groups every day will keep you healthy and your vegie patch will look colourful and interesting too.

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