Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard AKA Silverbeet

While we all know Swiss Chard as a vegetable, and it is such a great addition to any vegie patch. As I began traveling to France, I was to discover it’s value, in particular the coloured varieties, as an ornamental in flower gardens. The Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, is the first place I think of when reminiscing about such beautiful displays. As I walked through the gates for the first time, my eyes were automatically drawn toward a stunning vision of rich reds and greens. I had never seen Swiss Chard used in such displays before.

Description  – Swiss chard, which some people mistake for spinach, is actually a member of the beetroot family. The ribbed stems come in a variety of colours, white (the most common) yellow, orange, pink and red (rainbow chard) and a very deep red (ruby chard). The stems support large crinkly deep green leaves and both the stalks and the leaves are edible. The green leaves are normally separated from the stalks when being prepared for cooking, as the rich green leaves require much less time to cook than the stalks.

Growing  –  You can either purchase seedlings, or grow your own from seed. Seedlings can be planted from early spring to Autumn in the temperate and colder areas, and all year around in the tropics. Swiss chard needs full sun and prefer well drained soil that has been prepared with compost and well-rotted animal manure. We use a combination of horse and sheep manure along with compost, in our garden. Why a combination of the horse and sheep manures – it is what my Uncle Paul recommended, so it’s what I do. A fortnightly feed of liquid fertilizer will also ensure a ready supply. For those without a vegie patch, I have successfully grown Swiss Chard in pots so if you are restricted to a balcony or a courtyard you can grow it too.

Harvesting  –  To harvest Swiss Chard, pick the larger leaves from the outside of the plant, simply by breaking the stalks downwards and sideways at the same time. Harvest regularly, but leave 4 or 5 leaves on the plant. The plants will keep producing and keep you supplied with this wonderful green all season, so no need to plant again until next season.

Uses  –  Soups, sides, omelettes, gratins, pasta dishes…





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