Colorful stems and bright green leaves make Swiss chard the glamorous garden green as well as a delicious vegetable. Fortunately, it is easy to grow in the ground or in containers and is one of the few greens that can handle both cool weather and heat. In the fall, it grows well until killed by a killing frost.
This vegetable is so beautiful that often it is used as edible landscaping, in containers, in flower beds and as accent plants.
Set out plants or sow seeds 2 to 4 weeks before the date of the last frost in spring. A spring planting will go on producing through spring, summer, and fall. Plants tolerate heat well as long as you keep them properly watered. Mulch applied around the plants will help keep moisture near the roots.
Begin harvesting outer leaves anytime that they are large enough to eat; the young tender leaves are the most tasty and make a colorful addition to salads. Allow the middle leaves to remain on the plant, as they grow then they too can be harvested. Cut out the midrib of larger leaves before cooking or chopping into salads. Chop large leaves to cook down like spinach, or use in casseroles, soups, and pasta.
Whole harvested leaves will keep in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks in a loose plastic bag or sealed container.
Seed Savers exchange offers four different Swiss chard varieties. Their website is www.seedsavers.org. Botanical Interests offers five varieties, here is their website http://www.botanicalinterests.com.
Here are some delicious ways to use Swiss chard.
Swiss chard pasta
1 pound linguine
1 pound bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
1 very large red onion, halved, sliced (about 6 cups)
2 large bunches Swiss chard, stemmed, chopped (about 12 cups)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Quiche with Swiss Chard and Mushroom
3 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
4 ounces white mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons butter
5 ounces Swiss chard leaves (no stems), chopped
salt and black pepper to taste
5 ounces Gouda cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces
1 prepared pie crust dough