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Chard: Five Colours
Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris
Chard is such a wonderful vegetable. It comes in a great mix of colours and has many uses, but one of its best qualities is that it is very easy to grow.
It is also very hardy. You can pick the spinach like leaves from early summer right through Autumn and into Winter. Plants left in over winter will grow again in early Spring to give you one more picking before going up to seed. As the Latin name suggests it is a member of the beet family, but we grow it for its leaves.
Five Colours is a lovely mix of red, purple/pink, orange, yellow and white coloured stems and leaves. It can be used as baby-leaves for salad or cooked like spinach when fully grown.
How to grow:
Grow in the miscellaneous section of your rotation. Chard does not like very acidic soil so liming may be required. Compost or other organic matter will also help your crop.
Sow the seed into well-prepared ground from March until August. Scatter in rows about 1 cm deep and 30 cm between the rows.
Thin the seedlings to around 20cm apart as they grow. It is a good idea to make at least 2 sowings during the season to ensure a good supply. Chards are biennial and so are much less likely to go up to seed than true spinach. However, in hot weather or very dry conditions it can bolt. This can be a particular problem with spring-sown crops. Watering well will help to prevent this.
Harvest from June onwards. Start with the outside leaves and pull the stems away with a sharp downwards tug. Leave the plants to grow on and harvest as required.
Pests and diseases:
Chard is trouble free and very easy to grow.
Protect young seedlings from slugs, if necessary, using an environmentally friendly slug killer.
How to cook:
Young leaves can be used in salad and we can cook the larger ones like spinach. You can remove the midrib for a finer result or use the stems in your recipes too.
Chard is great in tarts and pies, quiche, patties and curry. It is also good for us; containing vitamins K, A, and C, as well as magnesium, potassium and iron.