Planting Swiss Chard
Plant chard seeds 2 to 3 weeks before the last spring frost date. Continue planting seeds at 10-day intervals for a month.
For a fall harvest, plant chard seeds again about 40 to 60 days before the first fall frost date.
Before planting, mix 1 cup of 5-10-10 fertilizer into the soil for every 20 feet of single row.
Plant the seeds 1/2 to 3/4 of inch deep in well-drained, rich, light soil. Sow eight to ten seeds per foot of row.
Caring for Swiss Chard
When the plants are 3 to 4 inches tall, thin them out so that they are 4 to 6 inches apart or 9 to 12 inches apart if the plants are larger.
Water the plants evenly to help them grow better. Water often during dry spells in the summer. You can also mulch the plants to help conserve moisture.
For the best quality, cut the plants back when they are about 1 foot tall. If the chard plants become overgrown, they lose their flavor.
Pests of Swiss Chard
Harvest/Storage of Swiss Chard
You can start harvesting when the plants are 6 to 8 inches tall. Cut off the outer leaves 1-1/2 inches above the ground with a sharp knife.
If you harvest the leaves carefully, new leaves will grow and provide another harvest.
The leaves are eaten as greens. You can cook them like spinach or eat them raw.
You can store chard in the refrigerator in ventilated plastic bags.
Swiss chard is not only one of the most popular vegetables along the Mediterranean but it is one of the most nutritious vegetables around and ranks second only to spinach following our analysis of the total nutrients. It is also one of only three vegetables recommended for boiling to help reduce its concentration of oxalic acid. Slice leaves 1-inch wide and the stems 1/2-inch wide and boil for just 3 minutes. We only recommend eating the stems of varieties with white stems. Colored stems can be very tough.
Foods belonging to the chenopod family&mdash including beets, chard and spinach. The red and yellow betalain pigments found in this food family, their unique epoxyxanthophyll carotenoids, and the special connection between their overall phytonutrients and our nervous system health (including our specialized nervous system organs like the eye) point to the chenopod family of foods as unique in their health value. It is recommended that you include foods from the chenopod family in your diet 1-2 times per week. In the case of a leafy food like Swiss chard, recommended a serving size of at least 1/2 cup to 1 full cup.
Chard has a thick, crunchy stalk to which fan-like wide green leaves are attached. The leaves may either be smooth or curly, depending upon the variety, and feature lighter-colored ribs running throughout. The stalk, which can measure almost two feet in length, comes in a variety of colors including white, red, yellow and orange. Sometimes, in the market, different colored varieties will be bunched together and labeled “rainbow chard.”
Cooking Swiss Chard Rinse Swiss chard under cold running water. Do not soak chard as this will result in the loss of water-soluble nutrients to the water. Remove any area of the leaves that may be brown, slimy, or have holes. Stack the leaves and slice into 1-inch slices until you reach the stems.
Swiss chard is only one of three vegetables we recommend boiling to free up acids and allowing them to leach into the boiling water. This brings out a sweeter taste from the chard. Discard the boiling water after cooking.
Use a large pot (3 quart) with lots of water and bring to a rapid boil. Add chard to the boiling water. Boil the leaves for 3 minutes. Begin timing as soon as you place the chard in the pot if you are using 1 pound or less of chard. If you are cooking large quantities of chard bring the water back to a boil before beginning timing the 3 minutes. Do not cover the pot when cooking chard. Leaving the pot uncovered helps to release more of the acids with the rising steam.
Research has shown that the boiling of spinach in large amounts of water helps decrease the oxalic acid content by as much as 50%.
Remove Swiss chard from pot, press out liquid with a fork, place in a bowl, toss with:
Mediterranean style dressing.
1 medium clove Chopped Garlic
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
3 TBS extra virgin olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste
6 kalamata olives
1/2 cup feta cheese
1 tsp soy sauce
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