Swiss Chard: A Gardener's Dream Article -
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Swiss Chard: A Gardener's Dream

It's easy to grow, simple to care for...and good for you, too.

Chard is a veggie super-hero! It offers a powerful punch of vitamins and a variety of preparation options--from salads to cooked dishes. And chard makes a terrific stand-in for asparagus or spinach.

Five Reasons You Should Grow Chard

1.  Chard produces in less-than-ideal soil and shade.
2.   It resists most plant diseases, and insect infestations are fairly rare. (Though watch for deer in fall.)
3.   Chard requires little care--just water regularly, and cut and discard any leaves that wilt or turn brown before you can harvest them.
4.  Long after your asparagus, spinach, and other greens close up shop for the season, Swiss chard keeps on giving, right up to the first hard frost. A four- to six-foot row of plants spaced eight to ten inches apart will keep a family in the green all season.
5.  It's pretty! Those bright stalks and shiny ribbed leaves look right at home in a flower border.

    How to Grow Chard

    Chard is super-easy to grow, making it an ideal choice for beginning gardeners--it thrives even in poor soil.

    • Start seedlings indoors and transplant, or start from seed outdoors just before the last frost.
    • You can begin harvesting as soon as the leaves grow large enough to use--young plants provide the most flavor.
    • Don't worry about cutting them to about an inch above the soil or cutting stalks from the outside. These plants replenish for re-harvest again and again through the fall, and the leaves get tastier as the weather gets cooler.

    Contact your local garden center or horticulture extension office to find out what grows best in your own backyard.

      Chard: Chock-full of Nutrition

      A one-cup serving of boiled Swiss chard contains a mere 35 calories, yet provides:

      • Vitamin K--More than 600 percent of the recommended daily value. Important in blood clotting.
      • Vitamin A--More than 100 percent of the recommended daily value. Important in visual health.
      • Vitamin C--42 percent of the recommended daily value. Helps the immune system; protects cells against damage.
      • Magnesium--47 percent of the recommended daily value. Helps bone health; important in muscle function.
      • Potassium--20 percent of the recommended daily value. Helps maintain normal blood pressure levels; aids heart function.
      • Iron--50 percent of the recommended daily value. Helps prevent anemia; can boost energy; carries oxygen in the blood.
      • Vitamin E--22 percent of the recommended daily value. Acts as an antioxidant; helps protect cells against damage.
      • Dietary fiber--14 percent of the recommended daily value. Can reduce high cholesterol levels; promotes intestinal health.

        May 11, 2010 6:56 am
        I am new to Swiss Chard. I bought some from the store and I don't know which part to cut up or cook. Just the leafs right?
        May 16, 2010 2:37 pm
        Use both leaves and stems. Typically, you'll slice the stems across into thin (1/8-1/4") pieces. This usually goes into the butter or oil of a recipe to cook a few minutes before the leaves since the stem will take longer to soften.
        Jul. 27, 2010 10:40 am
        Water your swiss chard! I forgot to water it one night - ONE NIGHT!! - and it almost died. I then transplanted it in my box garden and the dog dug a bed in the garden, the chard had had enough so it died. Argh! My suggestion: Plenty of water and fencing.
        Sep. 13, 2010 4:50 pm
        Does anyone know how far south you can grow chard? I live in Puerto Vallarta.
        patricia handly 
        Sep. 18, 2010 11:45 am
        I live north of Dallas and my swiss chard is doing great so far and it seems to be tolerating the sun a lot better than any of my lettuce plants. Planted about a month ago at same time as "fall" lettuce but the lettuce is already dead.
        patricia handly 
        Sep. 18, 2010 11:48 am
        sorry I didn't see HOW south you were. I do know that it needs water and some shade if your climate is very hot.
        Oct. 10, 2010 1:57 pm
        I use the whole leaf and stem, depending on what I am preparing. Friday night I gathered some Swiss Chard leaves, beet leaves, radish and turnip leaves, from my garden.(none of my root crops took this year so I'm improvising with the greens.) I rinsed them, patted them dry, and coarsely chopped them. I also finely chopped 3 garlic cloves. In a medium size skillet, I added 2T evoo and over med.high heat sauteed the greens for about 3 minutes. I added some salt and pepper and some pepper flakes and the chopped garlic. Cooked until tender but not totally wilted. My husband loved them.
        Nov. 3, 2010 7:19 am
        Chard is so easy to grow and does not bolt like spinach does, especially here in Alaska. I leave part of the stem on and put all of it in boiling water. It cooks very quickly, just to wilting is good. I add a slash of lemon juice and maybe salt to taste after it is cooked. Its just as easy to run a knife thru it after it is cooked instead of chopping it before hand. The stems of the young plants are tender and cook quickly and add the extra nutrition.
        May 14, 2011 2:02 pm
        we started growing swiss chard last year, and we love it. really like it in a stir fry. does great here in nc.
        Jun. 30, 2011 11:13 am
        I cannot believe how great the Swiss Chard is doing in the extreme heat (at least 100 degrees for several weeks) and drought conditions. I water when necessary but it never even wilts. Grows and grows. I will not plant any other greens in the spring from now on and just plant chard. And in my flower garden I set out three plants of Bright Lights last fall and it still looks wonderful and vigorous in this summer heat. I bought more seed to plant more in the fall to decorate all around the flower garden - a winner.
        Jul. 6, 2011 9:28 am
        I have been a fan of swiss chard for a long time as the best vegetable in the garden for all the reasons everyone listed. Last year I experimented with canning it & freezing it. The canning tasted fine, though a little soft & fell apart, really was not worth the effort involved for me. The freezing however was worthwhile & I will do it again this season. I found the best method was to clean as usual under the sink faucet & leave a generous amount of water on each leaf; place in microwave safe bowl. I generally strip out the stem unless it is young & tender, (this is only personal preference). You may need to add a very tiny amount of water as you need enough to steam it. Then I microwave it a minute or so just to blanch the leaves. Remove & pat dry with paper towels to remove as much water as you can. Then freeze in usable portion sizes. I found to prepare it, works best to place frozen in small pan with addtional tiny amount of water & steam for a short time. I enjoy it all winter no
        Mar. 8, 2012 11:13 am
        I grow chard year-round in containers -- I use large galvanized metal tubs or ovals. In Texas, chard produces even in the occasional winter hard freezes (I cover the containers for expected "hard" freezes -- temps in 20s or lower). I find the white-stem variety hardier than the red or other colors, which for me produce weaker, smaller plants. I use chard in soups (leaves shredded in ribbons)or as a side-dish.
        May 27, 2012 3:53 pm
        Putt55 I know you posted this a long time ago but I hope you can see it. I would not put the chard in a microwave. It will ruin all the good nutrition. Microwaves kill... I hardly ever put anything in the microwave anymore I, too, will plant more since it S.Chard grows so well and is sooo healthy.
        Jun. 23, 2012 12:59 pm
        At my local farmer's market, this is the recipe I got: cook some bacon and remove it from the pan place on paper towel to drain. Crumble it. Drain off most of the bacon grease from the pan. Keep the pan grease warm and add the chard. Wilt lightly.(remove from heat???) Add red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and just a touch of brown sugar and add the bacon crumbles. PS - I haven't tried it yet - I just got the recipe today. Will try it this week - reminds me of the wilted spinach salad a little.
        Jul. 20, 2012 9:49 pm
        i love making swiss chard cabbage rolls...reduce the thickness of the spine with a paring knife or potato peeler. Boil for 2 min. And roll with your favorite filling!
        Jun. 13, 2013 1:14 pm
        I would really like to print this article, however I have no way of enlarging the font and it's too hard to read otherwise.I someone has an idea, please let me know how I can save it in larger print. I've tried everything I can think of.
        Sep. 5, 2013 6:05 am
        I live in Iowa and our Swiss chard lasted until Nov. with a tarp over it. Next year I will only plant one row since it grows as soon as you cut it. Love Swiss chard and it is so good for us!
        Oct. 14, 2013 4:51 am
        To ginir96 - 'print article' - copy and paste to WORD. You can then enlarge the font.
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