Wednesday, 6 April 2016
Chard / Leaf Beet ... Cut and Come Again
On Saturday I sowed some ruby chard seeds. Today I noticed that they had germinated. Now that was quick! Four days. Proof that the weather has definitely warmed up and a good time for seed sowing. A welcome addition to the kitchen garden if only for its colourful stems. I rarely use this as a vegetable on its own but use it more like spinach added to the dishes I cook.
Chard grows well in containers, and overwinters in all but the coldest areas. A very decorative vegetable, choose ruby red or rainbow coloured varieties for maximum interest in containers.
Germination period: 10-20 days
Sowing to harvest time: 8-12 weeks
Soil requirements: Virtually any humus-laden soil
Climate: Chard thrives in cool northern climates, but can bolt if it gets too dry
Cultivation: Sow in autumn or spring, thinning plants when they are about 4in. tall. Plants crop almost all year round, pull outer leaves of and more will grow. you can even cut back to the crown in winter for an early crop in spring.
Watch out for: Slugs
In the Kitchen: Salads, steamed vegetable, stir fries, pasta dishes.
Varieties: Swiss chard, Rainbow chard and Ruby chard
(Taken from The Edible Container Garden by Michael Guerra)
"Swiss, ruby and rainbow chard are one of the few vegetables that remain in this plot in deepest winter, while I let the soil take a rest. The earthy, mineral notes of chard are detectable even in the youngest sprouting seed but get stronger as the leaves age. I have eaten the jewel-coloured stems at every stage of their maturity, from when they are as young and fragile as mustard-and-cress right through to the point at which the stems are so old and thick that they need to be cooked separately from their leaves, less the latter fall apart. " ~ Nigel Slater
Try a chard gratin or a soup of lentils, bacon and chard; chard with olive oil and lemon; potato cakes with chard and Taleggio; chard and cheese tart or chard with black pepper and cream. My favourite way of using it is shredded in fish pie or with smoked haddock and mashed potato with a poached egg on top - delicious!
Posted by elaine at 19:26