Swiss chard is a green leafy vegetable that has become a gardening favorite around the world. Aside from being a delicious and nutritious food crop, Swiss chard is often grown as an ornamental to serve as a border around flower beds and lawns. This vegetable is also known as “leaf beet” or “spinach beet.” Swiss chard is native to the Mediterranean region.
Swiss chard has an earthy, mild flavor and it is an interesting and delicious alternative to such leafy vegetables as lettuce and spinach. Once cooked, this vegetable has a sweet and buttery flavor. It can also be chopped and added to salads and soups.
There are many varieties of Swiss chard available for your garden. The leaves and stems are bright and quite colorful. The white-stemmed variety is popular because it grows prolifically and is resistant to bolting. Bolting is a plant’s reaction to exposure to too much water and sunlight. The result is that the plant starts to produce flowers and seeds prematurely.
There are many colorful varieties of Swiss chard that you can plant to add color to your landscape or garden, including many shades of yellow, red, green and purple.
Swiss chard is more tolerant of intense sunlight and the shortage of water than many other leafy vegetables. This vegetable can be planted outdoors directly in the garden about four weeks before the date for the last killing frost of spring.
Prepare the plot by adding a three inch layer of dried manure or compost to the soil. Turn the soil to a depth of about 12″ and mix well. Swiss chard can be planted in beds or in rows two feet wide and 18″ apart. Plant the seeds ½” deep and 3″ apart. The seed capsules should be soaked in water for about 15 minutes before planting to speed germination.
Swiss chard can also be planted indoors in pots about 14″ across and 12″ deep. Place the pots on a sunny windowsill for best growth and development. You can start seeds indoors about six weeks before the date of the last killing frost of spring to get an early start on planting.
Swiss chard is ready to harvest in about sixty days. You can start to harvest chard as soon as the leaves are 3″ – 5″ across. Simply snip the leaves from the plant using scissors. Many cooks add Swiss chard to pasta sauces. You can also use this vegetable sautéed or added to stir fry dishes.
Swiss chard is one of the most nutritious food crops available. The leaves and stems are high in fiber, vitamins and minerals. Swiss chard contains high amounts of Vitamins A, B, C and K. It also has lots of iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and calcium.
Swiss chard is fast becoming a garden favorite because it needs little care and has lots of flavor and nutrients. Plant a small bed or a few rows of this vegetable and you will be convinced that this is one of the world’s most delicious foods.