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Friday's Rookie Post II....Swiss Chard!

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Friday's Rookie Post II....Swiss Chard!

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 4/22/2011, 1:42 am

Rookie Friday II

Seems the first topic went well on Arugula (http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t6483-friday-s-rookie-topic?highlight=rookie+arugula) so we are off to another lesser known veggie this week.....Swiss Chard. Honestly, the way Mel talks about Chard in his book, I felt a lot of you would be veteran chard growers. It didn't cross my mind until I saw it mentioned so much in the Arugula thread. So, this week's topic becomes somewhat of a no-brainer......my kind of topic.

Hmmm, Swiss Chard. Where to start? First, what does Mel say? The write-up is on page 204. Mel says it's one of the easiest veggies to grow. It grows in sun and shade, all season long, and is virtually pest and disease free. That part caught my eye when reading the book since my family SFG's primarily for salads. It grows 4/square and about a foot or so high. Chard takes about 8 weeks until harvest (but I've also seen 4-6 weeks) and can go outside around 3 weeks before your final frost in spring..so, it's a decent veggie to start inside when getting a jump on your frost date. Another thing I saw that tempted my eye was that if mulched Chard may overwinter and resprout next spring for a ridiculously early harvest.

I never pulled the trigger because this year I started a large veggie expansion. I am trying a lot of things I have never tried before...along with staggering harvests and didn't want to confuse myself with a completely foreign, to me, crop. Maybe this summer or fall, if I can find the seeds in stores (they are quickly disappearing).

Here is a great snippet of what I found on Chard bouncing around the net...."Swiss Chard is probably the most under appreciated of all vegetables. It is vitamin rich and nutritious, and is extremely easy to grow. A prolific grower, Swiss Chard tolerates poor soil, inattention, and withstands frost and mild freezes. Swiss chard tastes good and you can eat both the stalk and the leaves. The leaves can be used as a fresh salad or cooked like spinach. The stalks are cut up and cooked in a variety of dishes. Plant Swiss Chard as soon as the soil can be worked. It will sprout fairly early, and will not be harmed by spring frosts. One planting will last the entire year. So, plan a permanent place for it."

Another good tip I saw was to keep your Chard well-watered. In summer, lack of water can turn leafy vegetables a bit bitter. Chard is no different. And, watch out for how quickly this plant can produce. Apparently, it can outpace you and your salad eating if you devote too much of your garden to chard. However, it's an easy fix if this happens........compost the outer leaves and the inner leaves will rapidly take their place.

Again, though, because of the rapid leaf replacement, disease and/or pests are easy to control. Just cut off the infected/infested leaves and start anew. Aphids and slugs are at the top of the list of pests. However, anything I've found says any pest infestations are uncommon.

If you like spinach, you will love chard according to some sources. Bottom line: I hope this small piece of information encourages you to add chard, or Swiss Chard, to your SFG. I know I will add a couple of squares and harvest these guys all season long once the rest of my garden settles in.

Happy Gardening!! GOGOGO!

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Friday's Rookie Post II.....Swiss Chard!

Post  sherryeo on 4/22/2011, 1:56 am

I love your choice for the second rookie post veggie! I've never even tasted Swiss Chard (yet), but I'm currently awaiting the sprouting of my first planting - Neon Lights Mix! It sounds like it might have a chance of standing up to our hot Gulf Coast summers! I'm looking forward to hearing from others who have already planted it.

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Re: Friday's Rookie Post II....Swiss Chard!

Post  walshevak on 4/22/2011, 2:07 am

I put some neon lights plants in my son's gardens last week. They will pretty up the plain white stalk version alreay growing. Chard became a favorite after we found out it can take the heat. I have some coming up in my own garden.

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Re: Friday's Rookie Post II....Swiss Chard!

Post  Miss M on 4/22/2011, 2:19 am

I am going to look for the neon lights chard at the nursery tomorrow! To me, lots of colors say, "lots of different nutrients!", so... I've already read that the different color carrots each sport a unique nutrient emphasis that results in the color (white is the least nutritious), so it isn't a big leap for me to figure it might be the same for chard. What a Face

A spinach alternative that can take the heat? Easy to grow? Pest resistant? Now, THAT's my kind of veggie!

I also have never, ever had chard before.

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Re: Friday's Rookie Post II....Swiss Chard!

Post  HPartin on 4/22/2011, 6:14 am

I am waiting on my "Rainbow" swiss chard. I planted by seed Feb. 22 and apparently that is too early. It has had a very slow start but I think it is starting to make some headway in adding leaves although it is only 4 inches tall Smile. I planted another square a week ago and I am curious to see if starts a little faster now that it is warmer. I have never eaten it but I'm sure I will like it. I have heard it is fabulous in quiche. Looking forward to trying it.

Heidi

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Re: Friday's Rookie Post II....Swiss Chard!

Post  jthreadsmith1 on 4/22/2011, 8:36 am

I'm so in love with Swiss chard! We had never eaten chard until I heard people raving about it several years ago. We started growing it when we were still row gardening. Now it's at the top of our favorite veggies list. Last year in late August we had only 2 small SFG beds and no room left in them so I put out a small patch of Rainbow chard plants in a corner of the old row garden. Mind you that I only bought a 10" pot from the garden store--maybe 10 plants. During the fall they gave the two of us all the chard we could eat just by harvesting the outside leaves.

Then cold weather came and the chard disappeared. But lo and behold, around the end of February it sprang back to life--the phoenix from the ashes. I hadn't even bothered to protect it with a covering of straw or anything because I had written it off for the rest of the year. Who knew it would regenerate after the bitter cold weather, snow and ice we had here? By mid-March it was back to its full glory and now it is amazing. Such gorgeous, colorful, huge leaves! I put some pine straw around it to keep the weeds out but otherwise have completely ignored it (too busy working on my new SFG beds this spring!) It almost seems to thrive on neglect.

It's also easy to cook. When we have it growing it's our go-to vegetable on a busy week night. I just stack up the washed leaves and coursely chop it. Then I saute chopped onions in olive oil and when they are soft, throw in the chard with a little salt and pepper. It doesn't need to "cook down" like collards or turnip greens. I just saute for several minutes until it is tender and it's ready to eat. The flavor is mild and it just screams "I'm a very healthy vegetable and packed with good things for your body!" We always feel kind of virtuous when we eat it. : )

Can you tell I'm a chard fan? If it did this well in a row garden can you imagine what it will do in my new SFG?

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Re: Friday's Rookie Post II....Swiss Chard!

Post  quiltbea on 4/22/2011, 8:55 am

Now you've made me yearn for Swiss chard again.
I tried it last year and it wasn't a big success with my palate.
I think I need to learn to cook it.
Anyway, I still have some Bright Lights seed left so I'll sow some in a large pot this year and try it again.
Its really lovely and prolific.

This is parsnips mostly with some Swish chard (red stems) and marigolds last year.

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Re: Friday's Rookie Post II....Swiss Chard!

Post  staf74 on 4/22/2011, 9:04 am

I grew chard last fall and had many squares of three different colors and all looked great.......BUT....I was unaware that Chard is one of those veggies that is high in "oxalic acid". Now don't all go running for the hills because its not poisonous but it is something to be aware of. You will know when you bite a plant that has high levels because it leaves that burning sensation in the back of the throat. Some people are more sensitive to it, I know I AM!!!

Cooking/ steaming breaks it down and so its only if you add it raw in salads etc that you might run into this. A large dose of "oxalates" (spinach is another) can interfere with calcium absorption so just be aware that's all.

Its best to avoid letting the leaves get too large to minimize this.....so don't NOT grow chard for this reason. Just a sharing of my experience with it. Small leaves are AWESOME !!!

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Re: Friday's Rookie Post II....Swiss Chard!

Post  Barkie on 4/22/2011, 9:16 am

@quiltbea wrote:Now you've made me yearn for Swiss chard again.
I tried it last year and it wasn't a big success with my palate.

Quiltbea, my veg book reckons the white or silver chard tastes better but with both to pick young fresh leaves. I've not tried this yet but I'll give it a go when I have time.

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Re: Friday's Rookie Post II....Swiss Chard!

Post  camprn on 4/22/2011, 9:21 am

One of the best things about chard is that it will grow and come again in the heat, unlike spinach. Very Happy

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Re: Friday's Rookie Post II....Swiss Chard!

Post  FarmerValerie on 4/22/2011, 9:36 am

@staf74 wrote:
Cooking/ steaming breaks it down and so its only if you add it raw in salads etc that you might run into this. A large dose of "oxalates" (spinach is another) can interfere with calcium absorption so just be aware that's all.

Its best to avoid letting the leaves get too large to minimize this.....so don't NOT grow chard for this reason. Just a sharing of my experience with it. Small leaves are AWESOME !!!

I wonder if it's because the best source for calcium is from green leafy veggies, and this way you don't get too much calcium, which can cause more problems. As long as you are taking Vitamin D, or making enough of it naturally, you should be okay, notice I said should be, that is not always the case. My MIL is very cautious of her acid intake, she loves tomatoes, but they don't love here, orange juice either, so there are those that are sensitive to things like this. Thanks staf74 for the info, it's always great to get tips like this, I am deffinately going to look into this for my MIL and grandson-too much fruit means a sore bottom.

I am growing SC, because Mel said to, and it's supposed to survive the summers down here, somewhat anyway. I was pleasantly surprised that I liked it.

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Re: Friday's Rookie Post II....Swiss Chard!

Post  dizzygardener on 4/22/2011, 10:07 am

You know, hubbie and I tried swiss chard last year and vowed never to eat it again. I think it might have been the way we cooked it. The recipe had something to do with vinegar and citrus... not my cup of tea.

Maybe I'll try it again. Thanks BBG.

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Re: Friday's Rookie Post II....Swiss Chard!

Post  FarmerValerie on 4/22/2011, 10:09 am

Dizzy, it's pretty, and if you don't like it as a salad, you can always add it too the compost thingy.

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Re: Friday's Rookie Post II....Swiss Chard!

Post  camprn on 4/22/2011, 10:10 am

I like to eat mine, after steaming or sauteed, with Newman's Own Family recipe Italian dressing. The acid in vinegar or citrus helps liberate iron and calcium from the vegetable, making it more accessible for uptake in your GI system.


Last edited by camprn on 4/22/2011, 10:11 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : fixing stupid typos)

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Friday's Rookie Post II....Swiss Chard!

Post  florenceq on 4/22/2011, 10:15 am

This is one of my favorite veggie to grow! It grows like a weed in my SFG. Plenty for my family of three plus I give a bag away every other week! My only problem is earwigs love it also.

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Re: Friday's Rookie Post II....Swiss Chard!

Post  pattipan on 4/22/2011, 11:05 am

@florenceq wrote:This is one of my favorite veggie to grow! It grows like a weed in my SFG. Plenty for my family of three plus I give a bag away every other week! My only problem is earwigs love it also.

I was carrying in a bunch of chard one day last summer and a couple of earwigs came crawling out. affraid The chard went flying! At least the earwigs were gone by the time I gathered it all up again. I think they like those close shady, moist leaves. I got bit/pinched by an earwig once -- it hurts!

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Re: Friday's Rookie Post II....Swiss Chard!

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 4/22/2011, 11:58 am

You know guys, it's like momma said......if you don't try it, you don't know if you like it.

I've never tried it. But, I can tell you this.....if I did, and didn't like it......it never comes into the garden again. I don't grow what I don't eat....veggie-wise. It's kind of like killing animals for sport, and I've already posted my experience on that one...lol.

Please keep posting your experiences with Swiss Chard. It seems we have some that like it, some that don't, some that are trying it, and some that want to but don't know what to expect.

That's EXACTLY what these topics are designed for.......all of us sharing experiences and helping each other out. YAY SFG FORUM!!

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Re: Friday's Rookie Post II....Swiss Chard!

Post  dizzygardener on 4/22/2011, 12:06 pm

BBG,

I'm seriously considering trying it again. After the whole citrus and vinegar fiasco I'm just a little scared, but so many folks seem to like it. There must be something good about it. I mean I like spinach, radish greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, beet greens, KALE, Collards, etc. In theory I should like chard too. :scratch:

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Re: Friday's Rookie Post II....Swiss Chard!

Post  pattipan on 4/22/2011, 12:50 pm

@dizzygardener wrote:BBG,
I'm seriously considering trying it again. After the whole citrus and vinegar fiasco I'm just a little scared, but so many folks seem to like it. There must be something good about it. I mean I like spinach, radish greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, beet greens, KALE, Collards, etc. In theory I should like chard too. :scratch:


I grew the rainbow chard last year and to me the darker leaves from the red stems had a much stronger metallic/oxalic taste. I think I am more sensitive to bitter tastes because my hubby loves it and thinks I am imagining things. So this year I'm trying the Italian type Argentata. It is supposed to be milder in flavor.

I think you are right though, a lot of it depends on the recipe. I never liked greens with vinegar or swimming in bacon grease, although my family growing up always ate it that way! However, eating it with some crumbled bacon or a warm bacon dressing as a salad-- yum! And using it like spinach in cheesy dishes, quiches and omelets -- double yum!

Here's a really nice article I found on Swiss chard. There's a taste chart based on the amount of bitter/oxalic aftertaste.

http://anr.ext.wvu.edu/commercial_horticulture/production_guide/swiss_chard

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Re: Friday's Rookie Post II....Swiss Chard!

Post  middlemamma on 4/22/2011, 2:20 pm

I thought some recipes might help?

I am copying these from Birds and Blooms: GROW IT COOK IT special A-to-Z Veggie Guide.

Chard Bean Soup
1 med carrot, chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 small yellow summer squash, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
2 Tblspn olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 (14.5) oz cans chicken broth (of course you can use your own)
4 cups chopped chard
1 can (15.5 oz) great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp salt
½ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp pepper
¼ cup parmesan cheese
In a Dutch oven sauté the carrot, zucchini, yellow squash and onion in oil until tender. Add garlic, sauté 1 minute longer. Add the broth, chard, beans, tomatoes, thyme, salt, oregano and pepper.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, uncovered for 15 minutes or until chard is tender. Just before serving, sprinkle with cheese.



Chard Bundles
1 bunch chard
3 med potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 med onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tblspn olive oil
¼ cup white wine or chicken broth
¼ cup minced fresh oregano
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 cup sour cream
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
3 tblspn shredded cheddar cheese
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 med tomatoes chopped
¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese

Cook chard in boiling water for 2-3 minutes or until tender. Drain and pat dry. Cut out the thick vein from the bottom of 8 leaves, making a V-shaped cut, set aside. (Refrigerate the remaining chard for another use.

Place potatoes in large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, cook onion and garlic in oil until tender. Stir in the wine, oregano and pepper flakes. Bring to a boil and set aside.

Drain potatoes and mash. Stir in the wine mixture, sour cream, grated Parmesan cheese, cheddar cheese, salt and pepper. Overlapping cut ends of leaves, place about 1/3 cup potato mixture on each leaf. Fold in sides. Roll up completely to enclose filling.

Place seam side down in a greased 8 in square baking dish. Cover and bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with tomatoes and shredded parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered 10-15 min longer or until chard is tender and cheese is melted.


Cran-orange Chard
1 med onion sliced
1 tblspn olive oil
10 cups chopped chard
¼ cup orange chard
2 tblspns dried cranberries
Dash salt and pepper
2 tblspns chopped walnuts, toasted

In a large skillet, sauté onion in oil until tender. Add chard, sauté for 3-5 minutes or just until wilted.
Stir in the orange juice, cranberries, salt and pepper. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until cranberries are softened. Sprinkle with walnuts.

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Re: Friday's Rookie Post II....Swiss Chard!

Post  clfraser on 4/22/2011, 2:35 pm

We are hitting high 80's low 90's every day here. Is it too late to try some chard? I know several said it does alright in the heat, but heat is so not specific. It is also very humid here. Any advice, it would be fun to try some as I didn't get a chance to try any lettuce or spinach because I was a bit late getting started.

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Re: Friday's Rookie Post II....Swiss Chard!

Post  middlemamma on 4/22/2011, 2:37 pm

It's just seeds! Try it. If it doesn't take when fall is on its way try again! Smile

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Re: Friday's Rookie Post II....Swiss Chard!

Post  elliephant on 4/22/2011, 3:12 pm

@clfraser wrote:We are hitting high 80's low 90's every day here. Is it too late to try some chard? I know several said it does alright in the heat, but heat is so not specific. It is also very humid here. Any advice, it would be fun to try some as I didn't get a chance to try any lettuce or spinach because I was a bit late getting started.

Go for it! I just started a new square and we are already firmly in the 90s (and humid as well). I planted my first square last Sep, so I haven't seen it through a summer yet, but we had a very warm fall and it did just fine. It does what I call a "fainting act" in the heat of the day, but springs back as it cools off in the evening. My new square germinated just fine in the 90s.

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Re: Friday's Rookie Post II....Swiss Chard!

Post  clfraser on 4/22/2011, 3:22 pm

Great to know ellie! I think I may try it in place of where the radishes are now.

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Re: Friday's Rookie Post II....Swiss Chard!

Post  boog1 on 4/22/2011, 3:38 pm

its on the long list of things ta grow in this years garden study



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Re: Friday's Rookie Post II....Swiss Chard!

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