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The Cooks Garden: Silverbeet (Swiss Chard)

Updated on November 16, 2008

Growing Silverbeet

Silverbeet grows all year round in most climates. It tolerates temperatures as low as -14 degrees celsius and is tolerant of high summer temperatures as well.

It prefers sunny or only lightly shaded conditions and likes a rich, free-draining soil. In poor soils, silverbeet tends to bolt to seed, so before planting dig in a healthy helping of well rotted compost. The ideal soil pH is 6.5-7.5 and acid soils should be limed.

For a year round supply of silverbeet make 2-3 sowings from early spring to early autumn in cool or cold temperature zones. Of course in warmer parts of the world you can sow it all year round. If your gardening style is more laissez-faire you can always let one of your plants go to seed and you will have wild silverbeet springing up where the seeds fall.

When planting silverbeet seeds, it often helps to soak the seeds for a few hours prior to sowing. You can sow the seeds directly into the garden, or into punnets or trays and then transplant when the seedlings are around 10cm tall. Silverbeet should be planted with 30cm between plants.

It goes without saying that you should keep your silverbeet weed free - you can do this by hoeing around the plants or, better still, by mulching with well rotted compost. This has the added benefit of keeping the soil moist - which is really important especially in hot, dry conditions. Silverbeet likes plenty of water and nutrients.

Silverbeet likes to grow with beetroot and onions. It also grows well with lavender.

Growing Silverbeet in Pots

Silverbeet is a great vegetable to grow in pots if you have no garden. If you pick a variety with coloured stems, it makes a great ornamental feature!

Choose a well-draining pot and fill it with good quality compost with extra fertiliser. If you would like to make your own soil you could invest in a worm farm. Not only will you make wonderful rich soil, you will be recycling your green waste - no more food scraps in the rubbish - and you will also be creating fantastic liquid fertiliser to keep your silverbeet well fed as it grows. As long as the plants are well watered and fertilised you can plant them closer together than you would in a garden bed.

There is no need to purchase expensive pots. You can use buckets, heavy plastic bags, barrels . . . you are only limited by your imagination and drainage. Whatever you decide to use you have to make sure it has adequate drainage or your plants will drown.

Make sure the containers are the right size. If they are too small your plants will dry out quickly and become root bound, too big and the soil will hold extra water and your plant's roots will rot.

Try to find containers in a pale colour so they don't absorb too much heat and cook your growing vegetables. Unglazed terracotta pots look great, but the soil dries out very quickly so they require careful monitering!

Remember to water your silverbeet regularly. Vegetables in containers dry out quickly and need more regular watering than those grown in a garden plot.

Silverbeet and Cottage Cheese Lasagne

This is my favourite silverbeet recipe!

For 4-6 servings

You will need:

Fresh Sheets of Lasagne

 
Sauce
2 onions
4 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons oil
1 small green pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 300g can of tomato paste
1 tablespoon white wine vingar
1/4 cup water
 
Silverbeet layer
about 1kg silverbeet
1 cup cottage cheese
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
black pepper to taste
 
Topping
1 cup cream cheese
1 cup grated cheese
 

Finely chop the onions and peel and chop the garlic. Sauté in the oil, stirring occasionally. Add the chopped green pepper. Continue to cook until everything has softened and the onion turns clear.

Add the seasonings and the can of tomato puree,vinegar and water. Bring to the boil then turn down the heat and leave to simmer while you prepare the silverbeet.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add the silverbeet. Cook for just a minute or two until the silverbeet has softened and wilted. Remove from the heat and drain well.

Add the cottage cheese and remaining ingredients to the cooked silverbeet, mix together until everything is well combined.

In a lasagne dish spread a thin layer of the sauce, then a fresh sheet of lasagne, then a layer of the silverbeet mixture. Continue layering until ingredients are used up, ending with a layer of the sauce.

Soften the cream cheese and spread over the top of the lasagne. Top with the grated cheese.

Bake at 180 degrees celsius for 40 minutes.

Serve with a salad.

Comments

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    • kiwimeg profile imageAUTHOR

      kiwimeg 

      4 years ago from New Zealand

      Once it goes to seed there isn't much difference in flavour - but the leaves are not so big or plentiful. Its better to enjoy the new fresh plants that you will invariably have coming up in abundance!!

    • profile image

      Bill 

      4 years ago

      Question

      One SB goes to seed can you continue to harvest and enjoy or is there a difference in flavor?

      Bill

    • profile image

      Verna 

      8 years ago

      Hey thanks for the great advice. Will try that. Verna.

    • kiwimeg profile imageAUTHOR

      kiwimeg 

      8 years ago from New Zealand

      @Emiloly Glad you liked the recipe! Its one of my favourites!

      @harm Silverbeet doesn't like wet feet, but it doesn't appreciate drying out either. Over the summer I give my vege garden a good soaking every couple of days.

      @verna I just let one or two plants go to seed and let the seeds disperse as they will. I don't bother collecting the seeds. Then come springtime I get a whole lot of new seedlings appearing all over my garden and I either leave them where they are or transplant them.

    • profile image

      verna 

      8 years ago

      How do you get to plant self seeding plants. Do you dry them out.?. I have very large plants that have seeded at the tops. thanks for your help.

    • profile image

      harm 

      8 years ago

      how much do u need to water it??????

    • profile image

      Emiloly 

      8 years ago

      Fantastic recipe. And a hit with the whole family. I might try growing some onion and beet root with my Silverbeet next!

    • kiwimeg profile imageAUTHOR

      kiwimeg 

      9 years ago from New Zealand

      I've never had any trouble growing silverbeet from seed. Each seed will grow one plant - and the strike rate is usually pretty good from your average commercial seed packet.

      I have to admit its quite some time since I have grown it in pots - these days I have a fairly large garden and I just let a couple of plants go to seed every year and I get silverbeet turning up all over the place LOL

      A 20 cm pot would be most suitable for just one plant. You could plant a couple of seeds in the centre to be sure and if they both grow just choose the best one to keep and plant the other elsewhere.

      Hope this helps!

    • profile image

      Heartful 

      9 years ago

      Ah okay thank you for telling me!

      Oh and I’m sorry for not asking this is my previous post as I wasn’t sure when you would reply back, but now I know that you reply really quickly (you have no idea how grateful I am for that) I wanted to ask you a a few things that I haven’t been able to answer ...

      For EACH silverbeet that I’m growing, how many seeds do I plant? (I’m growing them from seeds directly) I’m not sure whether or not one seed will grow into one silverbeet, or whether a couple of seeds is needed to grow one silverbeet.

      Sorry for asking a lot (I’m just learning as you might have thought hahaha) but do you think it would be alright if I plant TWO seeds (or clumps of seeds) in each pot? All my pots are plastic and have a circular base – the typical plant pot I suppose. And they are approximately 20cm in diameter. Do you think that if I plant the seeds at either end of each pot, my silverbeet will grow normally? I don’t have a vegetable patch unfortunately or anything else besides pots to use.

      Thank you very much once again! I greatly appreciate it.

    • kiwimeg profile imageAUTHOR

      kiwimeg 

      9 years ago from New Zealand

      Glad you are finding the info useful!!

      There is no hard and fast watering rule - just keep an eye on the soil in the pots and water it when you notice it getting a bit dry.

    • profile image

      Heartful 

      9 years ago

      Wow you have a great knowledge of silverbeet!

      I'm actually growing them at the moment and you're site is really very useful! You've been a main source of guidance for me actually! Hahahaha.

      I'm just wondering, how often would you need to water silverbeet? I'm growing four of them, each in a separate pot, and at the moment it's approaching late winter.

      Thank you for all you help again.

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