Cool season crops organic Swiss Chard
Planting mixed chard seed
Golden stems baby chard
Can't beet chard
Not all spinach lovers like the taste of chard cooked alone. Combine chard with other leafy greens such as collards, spinach, or mustard greens when cooking greens.
Chard is a beet plant cultivated for it's leaves. It is closely related to spinach and has similar, but hardier growing habits. So called "Swiss" to identify this chard from French charde or chardon in a seed catalog. The name stuck and has been used for more than a hundred years.
Organic chard growing at the Rodale Institute.
Direct sow chard
Chard is very adaptable and not particular about the soil. Drop a few seeds where ever you find empty space in your garden, flower bed or, container.
In spring - sow directly in the garden two weeks before your last frost date, or start seeds indoors three to four weeks before your last frost date and set seedlings out just as the last frost passes.
In fall - start seeds about 10 weeks before your first frost date, and set the seedlings out when they are four weeks old.
Choose a full sun location with good drainage. Seed and plants will rot in wet soil. Work organic matter into the soil are a couple of inches of compost. No additional fertilizes will be needed.
Plant seeds 1/2” deep and an inch or two apart. (about 8 to 10 seeds per foot of row.) Water the seeds and keep soil moist, not wet. Thin seedlings to 4 or 6 inches apart.
When seedlings are sufficiently spaced, begin harvesting by cutting off the outer leaves about ½ to 1 above the ground.
In Summer - To grow chard during the summer, it will appreciate some shade. Grow chard in the shade of taller plants. For example, peppers or tomatoes are tall enough to provide some protection for young chard.
You say chard
Chard goes by many names: Swiss chard, leaf beet, seakettle beet, and spinach beet. It is a beautiful large-leaf vegetable with wide flat stems resembling celery. If you like spinach, you will like chard. The flavor is mild yet earthy and sweet with slightly bitter undertones.
Chard is pronounced a couple of ways. Most often you will hear a gardener say "charred" or "shard." It's the gardeners choice.
Stir fry chard stems
Cooking with chard
Chard is great for salads, steaming or stir fry. Small tender chard leaves can be eaten raw. They add a beet-like flavor to salads, wraps and sandwiches. Chard can be used in place of spinach in any recipe Green Rice, Spinach lasagne, bacon and chard quiche, although chard will need to be cooked a bit longer. When cooking older chard with big leaves, the stems are usually tough and should be discarded.
Mediterranean cooks use this nutrient dense vegetable much more than American cooks. They use the stems more often, where American chefs use the leaves most often. It is said European cooks will use the stalks to the point of discarding the leaves when preparing a dish.
Nutritional Value & Health Benefits
Chard is second only to spinach in nutritional value. It is a powerhouse vegetable containing vitamins A, C, E and K. Chard is an excellent source of beta-carotene and the minerals manganese and zinc.
Grow summer chard in part shade
Freezing Swiss chard
Freezing is the best method of preserving chard for later use.
Blanch chard leaves before freezing, they hold their color better. When freezing larger leaves, discard stems which will be soggy and bitter.
- Rinse chard through three cool water changes, lifting leaves up and out of the water. Remove the stems from the leaves. Discard the stems.
- Fill sink half full of ice water.
- Bring about 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Drop up to a pound of chard leaves in boiling water. Cover and blanch for 2 minutes.
- Lift chard out of the hot water and immerse in an ice water bath for 2 minutes.
- Drain. Chop if you wish.
- Pack in zipper freezer bags or freezer containers. No need to leave headspace when freezing in bags.
- Label, date and freeze.
Use within one year.
Grow Chard From Seed
Dual benefits of chard
Tasty & Ornamental
The white stemmed varieties will out perform the bright colored stemmed varieties.
- Big seller 'Bright Lights' is an AAS (All-America Selections) winner. Sporting bold gold, orange, pink, and some purple stems. A beautiful and ornamental edible.
- Old favorite 'Fordhook Giant' is crispy, productive, and has snow-white stems.
- Grown in part shade with plenty of water, I had a non stop harvest of chard leaves with 'Peppermint Stick' chard. 'Rhubarb' chard is so named for the bright red stems and veins, as is 'Scarlet Charlotte.'
- It is tasty, but you will also find 'Pot of Gold,' serving ornamental duty in containers.
Add a couple of leaves, torn in bite size pieces, to mixed salad greens. Use those bright colored stems as stirrers in Bloody Marys. Include chard in green smoothies.