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.
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 raw salad greens and you can cook them like spinach or eat them raw in salads.
Swiss chard is one of the most popular vegetables along the Mediterranean as well as being one of the most nutritious vegetables around. Ranks second only to spinach following a analysis of the total nutrients. Slice leaves 1 inch wide and the stems 1/2 inch pieces and boil for 3 minutes. I recommend eating the stems of varieties with white stems. Colored stems can be very tough.
Spinach is high in protein and low in calorie content.
Spinach is not a lettuce but a leaf vegetable. Spinach leaves are not broad like loose lettuce or romaine, but it is considered a leafy green. In a culinary context, spinach is used in many of the same ways broad leaf lettuces are used. Eat it raw in salads, sandwiches and dishes and cook into casseroles, pasta and soups. Spinach leaves are high in iron, fiber, protein, vitamin A and vitamin C. It grows in cool climates for harvest throughout the warm season and is canned for winter storage.
Radicchio leaves have a striking red color that accents any salad or dish.
Radicchio is a leafy form of chicory. It looks like a small head of cabbage with thick, waxy broad leaves. Its bitter flavor and chewy texture set it apart. It is named after the area in northern Italy where most radicchio comes from. According to the New York Times, many chefs fail to appreciate the true flavor of radicchio and use it simply as a garnish or for color. It can be eaten raw with olive oil and salt, canned, pickled or cooked. Self Nutrition Data writes that radicchio is a very good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Folate, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.
Red and Green Leaf Lettuce
Red or green leaf lettuce is a large leaf lettuce. The leaves are thick and appear crumpled along the tips. Red leaf lettuce will have dark plum coloring on the leaves while green leaf lettuce remains a uniform green color. Both varieties have thick white stalks. This type of lettuce is commonly used in salads, sandwiches and tortilla wraps. According to Produce Oasis, these leaf lettuces are high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Iron, Potassium and Manganese.
Romaine lettuce heads are tightly wrapped and columnar in shape. This is a difficult type of large leaf lettuce to grow because it has not adapted well to hot climates and poor soil conditions. Despite its challenges, when grown correctly romaine lettuce is called the sweetest variety of lettuce. Its thick stalks are crisp and sweet in flavor. This is a classic lettuce used to make Caesar salad according to Better Homes and Gardens.
It it also sometimes referred to as butter crunch lettuce. Butterhead lettuces have small, round, loosely formed heads with soft, buttery-textured leaves ranging from pale green on the outer leaves to progressively smaller pale yellow-green on the inner leaves. The flavor is sweet and succulent. Because the leaves are quite tender, they require gentle washing and handling. There are 2 main varieties of butterhead lettuce. The first is Boston or butter lettuce and the second is Bibb or Kentucky limestone. Both varieties lend themselves to lighter dressings because of their soft texture and mild flavor.
Belgian Endive is in the chicory family. It grows in compact torpedo shaped heads are about 5 inches long with white leaves tipped with pale yellow green. The leaves have a mild crunch and are bitter in taste. Cut off the end and separate the leaves. Endive goes well with a dressing that tempers the bitterness. Top with creamy dressings, mustard based dressings, or with sweeter citrus dressings.
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