My garden is like my own little church. When I’m out there weeding and sowing, I feel a peacefulness and closeness to God. I find myself praying and singing, and it comes as naturally as the birds’ songs. In my garden chapel, the beautiful foliage of Swiss Chard is the stained glass – it’s so beautiful with the sunlight shining through it.
For many years, I planted “Bright Lights,” a variety that has a mixture of colors, including white, yellow, pink, orange, and red, but last year I decided I liked the pink best anyway and ordered “Flamingo” from Baker Creek Seeds.
Swiss Chard is really easy to grow. It can be grown in full or part sun, and is pretty enough to tuck in among your flowers in the front yard. It prefers cool weather, so you can get both spring and fall harvests. Sometimes mine does well right through the summer.
When harvesting, you can use the “cut and come again” method by only cutting the leaves you need and the plant will continue growing. Or you can harvest the whole plant. Chard is very economical to grow, especially when you consider the amount of nutrients it provides.
Nutritious is an under-statement! Swiss Chard has tons of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, K, and C, plus potassium, magnesium, calcium and copper. It’s also very high in antioxidants. Here’s a link to more in-depth information. I can assure you that you’ll be impressed!
Using and Preserving
Tiny Swiss Chard leaves are beautiful in salads! When I order a salad at a restaurant, I’m especially impressed if it contains them. They add beauty and nutrition, and just seem a step up from the usual iceberg tossed salad.
To preserve larger leaves, I wash them a few times to remove the dirt, then roll them up and chiffonade them. I blanch them in boiling water for about 3 minutes, and then put them into quart-sized baggies, press out the air, and lay flat in the freezer until they’re frozen.
My favorite way to cook them, is the same as any green. In fact, I often mix my greens. I start by dicing some bacon and browning it in a large pot. When it starts to brown, I throw in some diced onion. When the onion becomes translucent, I add a few cups of chicken broth. (Often I use bouillion) Then I add the fresh or frozen chopped greens, return to a boil, and then lower the temperature and cook for about 30-45 minutes. I season with salt and pepper to taste, and a splash of nasturtium vinegar that I make. (You can use apple cider vinegar.)
Swiss Chard doesn’t just look pretty, it’s inexpensive and easy to grow, not fussy, and yet offers a lot of health benefits. If it isn’t already in your garden, then consider adding it. It’s a beautiful crop to grow!
Are you ready to grow some Swiss Chard of your own? Some friends and I are having a giveaway for 10 packets of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. The winner gets to choose the varieties! So scroll on down to enter, and don’t forget to tell your friends! Also, please visit my friends’ posts for more great gardening reading!