I frequently recommend growing leafy greens such as Swiss Chard because they are so nutritious, delicious, and easy to grow. Often a single sowing can extend across several seasons, providing harvestable greens from spring, right through fall frosts. Even more remarkably, Swiss Chard can survive frigid winter conditions to produce additional early spring harvests when garden fresh vegetables are at a premium.
Growing Swiss Chard in the Home Garden
You can grow Swiss Chard from seed, which can be started indoors in containers under grow lights, or you can sow the seeds directly into the garden. The seeds resemble beet seeds but don’t require as much thinning. Space the transplants or thin to about eight inches apart in raised beds that have been composted or enriched with a general organic fertilizer.
The only troublesome insect pest affecting chards are leaf miners, which do mostly cosmetic damage by creating noticable trails in the leaves. For control I simply remove the affected leaves. Some years the plants go untouched by the leaf miners, but even during bad years the damage usually subsides as the season progresses.
Cooking and Preparing Swiss Chards
Swiss Chard is very delicious and can be lightly steamed, stir-fried, used raw in salads, and substituted for spinach or other leafy greens in your favorite recipes. The leaves will grow to enormous sizes but maybe used, along with the stems, at any stage of growth.
The wide thick stems can be used like celery, stuffed with a dip, or be added to vegetable trays. The best way to harvest is to carefully twist the stem off from the base of the plant.
Popular Varieties of Swiss Chard
There are many different varieties of chard. My favorites are Bright Lights and Five Color Silverbeet (Rainbow Chard). These are great because they offer an incredible range of brilliant colors from pink, red, yellow, orange, white, and striped that really stand out in the ornamental vegetable garden and can even be used in flower beds.
Other great varieties include: Fordhook Giant, Rhubarb , Pink Lipstick, Vulcan, Golden, Broadstem Green, Witerbi Mangold, Oriole Orange, Golden Sunrise, Virgo, and Canary Yellow Chard. There’s also a cultivar called Perpetual Spinach, which is also a variety of Swiss Chard.
For more great tips to creating an attractive vegetable garden check out the “Amazing Secrets to Growing Luscious Fruits and Vegetables at Home.”
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