Plant of the Week ~ Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris flavescens)

Beta vulgaris flavescens
Beta vulgaris flavescens

This week we take a look at a delightful biennial grown primarily for it’s edible uses ~ Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris flavescens). With it’s beautiful, brightly coloured stems, Swiss chard provides not only a feast for the stomach, but also a feast for the eyes.

Cultivation & Care

Beta vulgaris flavescens seedlings
Beta vulgaris flavescens seedlings
  • When growing from seed you can sow them directly into the soil if growing as a cut-and-come-again crop or for plants you wish to grow singly for large leaves you can sow them in seed trays and plant the seedlings out once germination has taken place.
  • Seeds should be sown in late spring for summer and autumn cropping, whereas winter crops should be sown in late summer.
  • Swiss chard is a very easy plant to grow. When it comes to soil it’s not too fussy, although fertile, moist soil will be preferred. A growing position in full-sun or partial shade will ensure the plants receive enough light for optimal growth.
  • Once established it will tolerate drought, however be sure to keep the soil moist during hot weather while the plants establish.
  • Plants will cope with winter better if cover is provided to protect them from the extremes of the winter weather. Cloches can be used for this purpose.
  • If plants bolt in warmer weather, do not be afraid to cut them back for new growth. These plants are very vigorous so they usually respond well to pruning.

Edible Uses

Chard harvested and ready for cooking
Swiss chard harvested and ready for cooking
  • Leaves ~ Young leaves are great raw in salads. Larger leaves cooked or steamed make for a great spinach substitute.
  • Leaf stems ~ Can be enjoyed cooked or steamed. When steamed the crispiness of the stems is retained.
  • Flowering stems ~ These can be enjoyed cooked or steamed as a great substitute for broccoli.

 

Wildlife & Eco Gardens can help you get started with growing edibles in your garden for you and your family to enjoy all year round. Contact us for more information.

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