Grow Swiss Chard ‘Bright Lights’ From Seed

2010
06.27

PBHobson2 Patsy Bell Hobson is a garden writer and a travel writer. For her, it’s a great day when she can combine the two things she enjoys most: gardening and traveling. Visit her personal blog at http://patsybell.com/ and read her travel writings at http://www.examiner.com/x-1948-Ozarks-Travel-Examiner.

Chard is becoming a favorite summer green for home gardeners. It’s beautiful! And, long after the cool season, when greens such as spinach have faded from my Zone 6 garden, chard is the one that steadily produces fresh greens for my favorite salads.

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Make tomato and swiss chard soup this summer.
Photo by Robyn Lee/Courtesy Flickr

Grow and Cook with Swiss Chard

Swiss chard ‘Bright Lights’ was honored as an All-America Selections (AAS) winner in 1998. When buying herb and vegetable seeds, I look for seeds that are AAS winners, which are selected based on their superior performance. AAS winners will also grow most anywhere in North America. The All-America Selections® logo tells me that I can grow this plant easily from seed.

Swiss chard, or chard, is a beet that is usually selected for its leaf production, not for its root formation. Plant chard seeds a week or two before your favorite salad greens, such as spinach, bolt. When you pull up these greens your chard seedlings will be well on their way. Also, by the time tomatoes are ripe and ready, lettuce will be long gone from your garden. Instead, grow young chard leaves as a lettuce substitute. I use it in the summer’s best sandwich: the bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, or the BLT.

Many cooks remove chard’s colorful stems, which can be yellow, gold, orange, pink, red or white, and cook them separately before adding greens to the mix. (The stems take longer to cook.) Cut off the outer leaves 1 1/2 inches above the ground when they are young and tender, which is when they are about 8 to 10 inches tall. Larger leaves can be cooked and used as you would use spinach. If you like spinach, you will like this hardy and more earthy-flavored relative.

Fill your garden with Swiss chard whereever you find an empty space. It grows well in containers and is pretty enough to grow in a flower bed. Swiss chard is loaded with vitamins A, C, and contain vitamin B, calcium, iron and phosphorus. Like most greens, chard is very low in calories. And unlike most vegetables, it has a slightly higher sodium content than most leafy greens.

Seed Packet Giveaway!

Burpee has generously agreed to give away three seed packets of Swiss chard ‘Bright Lights’ to my Herb Companion readers. Winners will be selected at random. Details below.

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• Post a comment below: Share your experience with Swiss chard. Do you currently grow this plant? What would you like to use it for? 

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