If you want to add some color to your vegetable garden then you need to know how to grow Swiss chard. It is also known as silverbeet and some people call it spinach – either way it’s super easy to grow and comes in varieties that have stems that come in lots of colors so it is a bit more interesting than your average “greens”. It has deep green crinkly leafy foliage.
It’s part of the beetroot family. But it has been developed for it’s leaves rather than it’s roots. It is different to spinach but some people still call it spinach.
What conditions does it like?
The books say Swiss chard likes full sun but I’ve seen it happily growing in part shade so if you haven’t got the perfect spot give it a go. Like most vegetables it likes well drained soil.
When should I plant it?
In cold areas plant it in spring after the threat of frost all the way through to the end of summer.
It grows well in pots or containers just use a good quality potting mix and make sure to elevate the pot a little so that it drains well.
In temperate zones late winter through to fall (or autumn)
In the tropics you can plant it all year round.
If you want to plant seeds sow them about 1/2 an inch deep and about 12 to 18 inches apart. Don’t plant too many at once you’ll have so much you won’t be able to eat it. Just a few plants will be fine for a family of four. You can grow them a bit closer together in a pot.
How should I care for it?
It needs to grow quickly so give it some liquid fertilizer every two to three weeks. Worm wee is perfect fertilizer for them. It needs hardly any care. Put some mulch around it to stop the soil getting too hot or it may bolt to seed. Watch out for snails and slugs. It’s pretty a tough plant.
When should I pick it?
In temperate areas you will be able to start harvesting in about 2 months – if it has the right frost free conditions it will product leaves for up to 18 months. Make sure you always leave at least six leaves on the plant so that it can keep growing. Harvest the leaves from the outside and cut them about an inch from the ground. The more you harvest the more you get.
How Do you eat it?
You can eat it cooked or raw. The young leaves are especially good in salads. You eat the stalk as well as the leaves. Some people separate the leaves from the stalks and cook the stalks like asparagus.
Alternatively, slice and use in stir-fries, curries, quiches, soups or as part of a side dish. Cook silver beet as briefly as possible to retain maximum nutrient content. A quick google search for either Swiss chard or silverbeet recipes will give you heaps of ideas
Bright Lights – rainbow stems are so pretty it a shame to cut them.
20-inch plant with stalks of yellow, orange, pink, crimson, purple, white, or green. Some even keep their color after cooking matures in about 60 days.
Five Color Heirloom Mix – amazing colors in shades of red, purple, pink, orange, yellow and
white. produce lots of 18″-22″ leaves.
Fordhook – delicious deep green leaves with white stems.
Get a good variety of seeds and plants here