Swiss Chard is power packed with nutrients and easy to grow. It belongs in every garden. Learn how to grow Swiss Chard and how to incorporate it into your diet.
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What is Swiss Chard?
Swiss chard is a member of the beet family, but it doesn’t produce a bulbous root. It is known by other names including silverbeet, perpetual spinach, spinach beet, sekale beet, crab beet and mangold.
Why Should I Grow Swiss Chard?
Swiss chard is high in vitamins A, E, K and C and the minerals magnesium, manganese and iron. Swiss chard tolerates warm (and even hot) temperatures and dry conditions like a champ. Its colorful leaves are beautiful in edible landscaping and ornamental plantings. There are so many reasons to plant Swiss chard!
How To Grow Swiss Chard
Planting dates for Maricopa County are August 15th through the beginning of February. Sow seeds ½ to 1 inch deep, about 2 to 6 inches apart, in rows 18 to 24 inches apart. If you are using “Square Foot Gardening”, plant four per square. Swiss chard likes organic-rich, well-drained soil and plenty of sun. Check your local planting guide for your dates.
Once the plants grow a couple of inches tall, thin them to about six inches apart. To harvest Swiss chard, cut off the outer leaves with a sharp pair of garden scissors 1½ to 2 inches above the ground while they are young and tender (about 8 to 12 inches long). Cut leaves at the base of the plant. New leaves will grow quickly. Do not damage the center portion of the plant (terminal bud). In certain climates (including Arizona) Swiss Chard can be harvested year round and plants may last for a year or more.
There are several varieties of Swiss chard
Here are a few classic varieties to try:
- Classic Fordhook Giant – large leaves with white stalks; impressive in the garden. Beautiful and delicious tender pale green stems and dark green leaves with white veins. It tolerates heat and cold. Sixty days to maturity.
- Rainbow Swiss Chard – a mix of several colored varieties; will have leaves in shades of red, orange, purple, yellow, and white. 65 days to maturity.
- Barese Swiss Chard – produces delicious tender 10″ tall dark glossy green leaves with curled edges. A baby leaf that grows quickly and is ready to harvest in 30 days.
I’ve Grown It…. Now What Do I Do With It?
Now that you’ve learned how to grow Swiss chard, there are many ways to incorporate it into your diet. For example, use young and tender leaves fresh in salad or wilt them like you would spinach. You can also add chopped chard to soups, sauces, roasted vegetables and smoothies in place of kale or spinach. (Keep or remove stems depending on preference. Stems may add slight bitterness when eaten fresh). To freeze Swiss chard, blanch the stems and leaves, and then pack in freezer bags.
Recipes For Swiss Chard
Chard with olive oil and Lemon – adapted from Tender, by Nigel Slater
(enough to serve 2 as a side dish)
1 pound white stemmed chard
young garlic cloves
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Cut the white stalks from the leaves and keep both separate. Wash both in cold water, rubbing any soil off the stalks with your thumb. Rinse both leaves and stems thoroughly.
Bring a large pan of water to a boil, salt it and add the chard stalks. They will take 3-4 minutes to cook and should retain some bite, rather than be softly tender. Remove stalks.
Saute chopped garlic in olive oil over low heat, let it soften without color. Add leaves and cook until tender but still bright green. Add in cooked stalks and gently fold into leaves. Grind over a little black pepper and sea salt, cut the lemon in half and squeeze half over the greens. Serve immediately.
Dr. Oz Orange Zest Smoothie
1 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
Zest of one whole orange
1 whole seedless orange, quartered (including the flesh, sections and pith)
1/2 banana sliced
1 Italian plum, pitted (or regular plum)
Juice of whole lemon
3 large Swiss chard leaves, deribbed
Directions: Blend ingredients together and enjoy!
Rainbow Chard Pineapple Smoothie – gimmiesomeoven.com
3 cups loosely-packed rainbow chard leaves (stems removed)
2 bananas, frozen
1/2 cup orange or pineapple juice
1 Tbsp. ground flax seed
1 cup ice
Directions: Pulse all ingredients together in a blender until blended. Serve immediately or freeze.
For more recipes check out this post with my favorites.