Want to improve your health this year? Then one way to do it is to get more brightly-coloured fruit and vegetables into your diet. Vivid pigments such as deep purples, dark greens, vivid reds and oranges are a sign of high nutrient levels, so the more you eat of these the better. Not only that, but they taste better too and they make mealtimes more interesting.


Scottish Gardener:

Red Cabbage
The rich colouring of red cabbage is a sign that it contains high levels of anthocyanins, which have a host of health benefits including reducing inflammation in the body and protecting the heart.

Sow outdoors in April into firm soil that has not recently been dug over. Protect seedlings from sparrows and apply a liquid feed as heads begin to form. Harvest in September.

Scottish Gardener:

Purple Sprouting Broccoli
The sulphurous compounds in broccoli may have a preventative effect against chronic disease and one generous serving contains more than the recommended daily dose of vitamin C.

Sow early purple sprouting broccoli in May, plant it out in July and it will be ready for harvesting in February. Water during dry spells and stake the plants if growing in an exposed location.

Scottish Gardener:

Swiss Chard
Low in calories but high in fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals, Swiss chard may protect the liver and kidneys from damaged caused by diabetes.

Sow in April into soil that contains compost or well-rotted manure. Pick the outer leaves as they grow to keep harvesting over a long period.

Scottish Gardener:

Kohl Rabi
This strange-looking relative of the cabbage is high in fibre and vitamin C and studies have shown it to have antioxidant properties, with the best levels found in purple varieties.

Sow from April onwards and keep harvesting until Christmas. Because most of the plant is above ground this is a good choice for thin and shallow soils.


Scottish Gardener:

Blueberries, along with raspberries, are an excellent source of vitamin C and they are also rich in phytochemicals, which have been shown to protect the body against a long list of diseases.

Blueberries need an acidic soil but they will grow happily in large containers in ericaceous compost. Grow several different varieties together, even if they are sold as ‘self-fertile’, in order to produce a bigger crop. Most blueberries reach full production at seven years old.

Scottish Gardener:

Blackberries contain potassium, magnesium and calcium, as well as vitamins A, C, E and  B vitamins.

Plant in fertile soil in a sunny spot during spring and cut down canes to a healthy bud. Choose a thornless variety such as ‘Loch Ness’ to make picking berries easier.

Scottish Gardener:

Plums contain a good mix of vitamins and minerals, especially calcium, magnesium and folate, which helps the body to form healthy red blood cells.

Plums like a sunny, sheltered spot and may need covering with fleece in early spring to protect the blossom from frost. Support heavy-cropping branches and prune established trees during summer.

Scottish Gardener:

Gooseberries contain high quantities of fibre, Vitamins A and C and manganese, which promotes calcium absorption and regulates blood sugar. They are also high in collagen, which keeps skin looking young.

Gooseberries like a sunny spot but are unfussy about soil. Prune them in summer to promote a heavy crop the following year and cove the bushes with fine mesh, or grow bushes in a fruit cage to protect from birds.

Seed company Mr Fothergill’s is helping gardeners to grow colourful veg with an updated booklet containing advice from TV gardener, David Domoney.

The booklet, which accompanies the David Domoney Get Growing range of vegetable seeds, includes nutritional facts, a sowing calendar and crop rotation advice and is available free from garden centres and nurseries.