Saturday, June 9, 2012
Why Grow Swiss Chard
asian greens such as tatsoi and mizuno to the all-too-common spinach, greens should be part of your garden. I grow about 10 varieties of greens: kale, New Zealand spinach, bloomsdale spinach, tatsoi, pak choi, mesclun greens, radicchio, romaine, ruby swiss chard, and red beets (yes, the greens are used too). I love them all, but swiss chard is tops. Why? Primarily because of the nutrient content. Chard is in the spinach family, so there are many nutrient similarities to Popeye's favorite vegetable. I'm one that zeros in on foods packed with the highest amount of nutrients, especially iron because I typically fall short in iron (I eat little red meat). In one cup of cooked chard, you get 21% of your daily requirement of iron AND (the best part) there are only 35 calories in that one cup. Swiss chard is very easy to grow from seed and will hang around all summer without bolting or any pests bothering it too much. It can take part shade and looks magnificent in the garden or even in a container on the patio. It will overwinter too if your winters are mild. There are numerous varieties to choose from and the stalks along with the leaves are eaten. Most varieties differ because of the color of the stalks which are beautiful in their own rite. Bright Lights is a very popular variety with its multi-colored stalks. I'm discovering the colored stalks look lovely in recipes. Last year, I grew a golden chard. This year, the ruby (variety "rhubarb") stalks are making their debut in the backyard. You can eat chard leaves in your salad but I found the most efficient way to get the nutrients is cooked. My Popeye energy starts first thing in the morning with a cup of swiss chard in my scrambled eggs. Bring on the day... and the chard.