This week we take a look at a delightful biennial grown primarily for it’s edible uses ~ Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris flavescens). With it’s beautiful, brightly coloured stems, Swiss chard provides not only a feast for the stomach, but also a feast for the eyes.
Cultivation & Care
- When growing from seed you can sow them directly into the soil if growing as a cut-and-come-again crop or for plants you wish to grow singly for large leaves you can sow them in seed trays and plant the seedlings out once germination has taken place.
- Seeds should be sown in late spring for summer and autumn cropping, whereas winter crops should be sown in late summer.
- Swiss chard is a very easy plant to grow. When it comes to soil it’s not too fussy, although fertile, moist soil will be preferred. A growing position in full-sun or partial shade will ensure the plants receive enough light for optimal growth.
- Once established it will tolerate drought, however be sure to keep the soil moist during hot weather while the plants establish.
- Plants will cope with winter better if cover is provided to protect them from the extremes of the winter weather. Cloches can be used for this purpose.
- If plants bolt in warmer weather, do not be afraid to cut them back for new growth. These plants are very vigorous so they usually respond well to pruning.
- Leaves ~ Young leaves are great raw in salads. Larger leaves cooked or steamed make for a great spinach substitute.
- Leaf stems ~ Can be enjoyed cooked or steamed. When steamed the crispiness of the stems is retained.
- Flowering stems ~ These can be enjoyed cooked or steamed as a great substitute for broccoli.