Swiss Chard

Family: Amaranthaceae

Countries: Africa, Albania, Algeria, Asia, Azores, Balearic Islands, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Denmark, Egypt, England, Europe, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Libya, Middle East, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Wales, Yugoslavia

Swiss Chard (also known by the botanical name Beta vulgaris subsp. cicla var. flavescens) is a magnificent vegetable that brings a touch of its own exquisite beauty to the gardens and allotments where it’s grown.  This is another vegetable with an array of common names, it’s also called: Leaf Beet, Chard, Rhubarb Chard, and Rainbow Chard.  For ease of reference, I try my best to stick to calling this vegetable Swiss Chard; although I do also call it Chard from time to time – sorry about that.

Both the stems and leaves of Swiss Chard are edible.  Swiss Chard can be grown as cut and come again crop, when it’s cut down to the ground and harvested in its entirety and then allowed to grow up again; alternatively, individual stems and leaves can be cut as necessary.  The baby leaves are lovely served in salads and sandwiches; while older leaves work well as a vegetable wrap, filled with finely chopped vegetables and herbs, they’re delicious!  Swiss Chard leaves work well in soups, they can be used in a similar way to spinach.  I use mature stems rather like celery, they’re nice served steamed or sautéed.

Swiss Chard is available in a true rainbow of colours; the leaves of this vegetable are always green, but the stems and leaf veining can be red, pink, orange, white, cream, or yellow.  Individual coloured varieties of Swiss Chard are available as plants or seeds, which is useful if you’d prefer to grow a particular type or colour; alternatively opt for a mixed pack of seeds, like Swiss Chard ‘Bright Lights’ or ‘Rainbow’.  This is a truly striking and very beautiful edible plant that’s both easy to grow and productive, with an extended growing season.

In the UK, seeds can be sown from March to August (spring to summer).  Sow seeds outside, directly where you want your Swiss Chard plants to grow, or alternatively, sow Swiss Chard seeds in seed trays or containers filled with a good quality peat-free compost.

This is a decorative plant that will enhance a flower bed or garden, a potager or allotment.  Like most vegetables, Swiss Chard flourishes in bright conditions, so choose a sunny or partially shaded site to plant or sow your seeds.  Swiss Chard seeds will thrive in almost any moist or well-drained soil.  Avoid waterlogged soils or exceptionally dry soils.  You really can’t go wrong with this easy to grow vegetable – good luck!

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