2. The Unexpected Swiss (chard, that is)

24 Oct

So a couple of weeks ago I gave in to my impatience and haste as a gardener and planted a very many alliums in two new raised beds just finished at plot #32. OK, truthfully, I planted them the very same day I built the two beds but I digress, you can read more about that account here.

This, my second post in my 100 in 100 challenge, is meant to be an ode (if I dare call it that) to the newest addition to plot #32; two transplanted Swiss Chard, a gift from a fellow community garden member, Toni. Thank you Toni for the gift. May it grow well in its new home regardless of the fact that I have never grown Chard before and really do not know what to do with it.

What is Swiss Chard?

Cousin to the better known beet, and also known as silverbeet or mangold, this leafy green superfood is as colorful as it is healthy. One of my favorite online resources, gardenate.com, gives this description:

Edible dark green glossy leaves with wide white or cream stalks produced over a long period. Some varieties have red, yellow or orange stalks. They are all edible. Both leaves and stalks are eaten. This is a cut and come again plant, providing leaves for some months before going to flower. Can re-sprout from around the base if cut off when it starts to flower.

How do I grow Swiss Chard in my garden?

By all accounts, this plant is a somewhat hardy vegetable. It will last longer into the spring than turnip, collard, mustard, and other leafy greens and will survive late into fall until it is killed by a hard frost. Since this area is not prone to many hard frosts till the holidays, I might be able to get a picking or two off these little guys before then. If you happen to live in an area that does not experience hard frosts, then the good folks at Bonnie have this to say:

In areas that never experience a hard freeze, Swiss chard sometimes behaves like a perennial, living for several years. When it blooms, you can cut off the bloom stalk and it will produce more leaves.

According to the research, in this area Swiss Chard is typically planted early spring (February/March) or late summer (August/September). We are in the third week of October now, so I might be a little late to the game, but one never knows around here. Plus, hoop-houses are fairly easy and common practice in this area.

Since it is a leafy green vegetable, Swiss Chard likes a cool moist but well-drained soil amended with a slow release nitrogen inputs. I am using composted cow manure (already turned into the soil at the time I planted the onion sets). Then the whole bed is covered in a layer of leaf-mold compost. Water regularly if not receiving 1-2 inches of rain a week.

This plant looks to be a forgiving and sturdy type. This is good news because I am just beginning to learn this one.

By the way, thanks again Toni.

2 down, 98 to go. Follow my 100 in 100 challenge here.

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6 Responses to “2. The Unexpected Swiss (chard, that is)”

  1. Ed October 24, 2013 at 9:14 am #

    Reblogged this on Our Little Garden at 8505 and commented:

    Posted to my other blog, related to my adventures in food charity.

  2. Growing Up in the Garden October 26, 2013 at 10:29 am #

    Hi there! My family loves swiss chard. You can use it in place of spinach (ribs removed) in most recipes that call for cooked spinach. It is a little heartier with a flavor that is a bit stronger than spinach. One of our favorite ways to eat it is “Swiss Chard Wraps” (just scroll down the post a bit): http://growingupinthegarden.com/2012/04/01/oh-swiss-chard/

    I love growing chard because it comes in so many colors, is easy to grow, and is so tasty. I hope it thrives for you!

    • Ed October 26, 2013 at 9:29 pm #

      Right now we are experiencing some frosty temps in the mornings. This morning it got down to 29 and more of the same expected tomorrow. It’s looking limp but not dead yet. I’m looking forward to it too. I always thought it a very beautiful plant.

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