swiss chard

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When can I start swiss chard in lower Midwest? I'll be growing just a small patch of it.
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the sooner the better. It takes a week just for it to sprout. It will be ready no earlier than september. I usually put out my seedlings between april 15 and april 30.
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songbird wrote:

WikiP says its Mediterranean and "Swiss" is to distinguish from French. Does anybody have "French chard"?

It's pretty hardy and flexible, not fussy really. It will self-seed and grow in all sorts of places.

You will be faced with one of life's turning points. To eat the stalks or not. If you choose yes then cook the stalks separately from the leaves otherwise the one will be underdone and the other overdone. The key is to pick them while the leaves are tender and not too strong in flavour. The leaves can be allowed to grow to full size (or nearly) but regular cutting keeps them producing.

And snails and slugs

If they get at least some sun they will grow but they are best in full sun.

No. Harvest according to the vigour of the plant. Cut from the outside and always leave a few healthy leaves in the centre to carry on. Once they are going well you may be able to cut quite frequently and still have them prosper.
harvest a little this year after

Harvest as soon as they have enough leaves.
are these biannual

Yes. They ARE beets!
says the seeds want even moisture

You can start them in trays, they transplant quite well.
how hardy are they when it gets hot

They will do better than many leafy veges like lettuce but try to keep them watered or they will wilt in the afternoon.
do they get deep tap roots?
Yes
flower

Yes. When the flower stalk comes up you can cut all the baby leaves along its sides which will be very tender and mild
spread by root division?
No only seed.
David
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David Hare-Scott wrote:

i've never heard of it.

oh good. :)

i like rhubarb stalks cooked or raw once in a while. when i was eating chard before i would eat the whole leaf usually raw as a wrap or chop it up and throw it in a stir fry of some sort. i like veggies on the crunchy side even when cooked, so a little hard stalk isn't going to bother me. i've also had it cooked in a pastry and that was good too. i'm not really fussy either as long as you don't put black pepper on it...

that would have to cross several feet of bare, dry dirt right now to get to where they are at. don't see too many snails around here. i think the birds get them.

they'll have 6-9hrs of sun at least on the days when the sun is out. i put them to the north and to the west and in the center so we'll see what they do for shading surrounding plants and sun blocking, and also how they do growing with some companion legumes.

ah good.

check. :)

but no round root to eat?

too late for that. i've never had any trouble starting beets here so i figure i just need to remember to give them a shot of water if we've not had any rain. pretty much what i would do for any of the seeded in gardens.

that's good to know. all of the patches i planted have an underlaying clay that will hold water if the roots can get down that far. one is along an edge that is low that it is usually damp even when it gets dry for quite some time.

that will be fun to see. much more fun than rhubarb stalks.

great, thanks for your answers.
anything else i should know about them? :)
is it likely that a mix like this will even and average out in color as it self-and- cross pollinates? sometimes this happens with flowers (like the cosmos if i don't select seeds by color and petal count and height they'll all go mostly orange).
songbird
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songbird wrote:

No. Somewhere in our history the breeding of beta vulgaris diverged into two cultivars. One with a big root and little leaves (beets) and the other with big leaves and little root (chard).
David
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The thing to do is add the stalks to the oil and garlic first, and 3 minutes later, add the leaves for another 3 min., and then serve.

B.S., the flowering stalks will flop over, and put out adventitious roots which will start new plants. They've done that for me for at least 20 years.

--
E Pluribus Unum

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Billy wrote:

Never seen or heard of it. I will have to try it now.
D
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wrote:

No, that's "poor" soil.
fertile: loamy poor: sand/adobe average: everything in between those two

When I grew chard, what I found was that it had an inverse relationship to eating healthy. Prolly because everyone I asked about how best to prepare it responded with "first, fry up some bacon..."

Every year, I like to try growing a few things I didn't grow previously. Not merely a different variety of something, but an entirely new thing. This year, it's Okra and Rhubarb. Also looking to pickle cucumbers, so growing types good for that. Last year was Cardoon and Eggplant.
Dang good thing I've got the space to grow lots of things.

You're welcome to think that. As a point of reference though, leaf miners - a maggot-like larval stage of certain species of flies and other insects, ends up eating the tissue from between the thin outer skins (epidermus) of the leaf to the point that the leaf would be transparent, excepting for the frass the critters expell, will love 'em. Stay on top of that, cutting off and destroying leaves showing that type of damage. They'll also attack beets and spinach too.

Mine were always in the full sun.

It's a biennial - you want to harvest it while it has good leaves, but before it goes to seed, at which time things will turn bitter. On plants which yeild leaves which can be harvested without killing the plant, I let them establish sufficiently, then I harvest a few leaves here and there. When you have multiple such plants, it's usually easy enough to harvest without setting them back.

They're so like beets that they share the same pests and can cross pollinate (if you save seed, you should pay close attention to that, because the next generation of beets (those from the saved seed) may very well not actually produce a beetroot, though they may appear to have beet greens).

Most plants like even moisture. If it's an issue for you, start them in germination trays, then transplant out when they're big enough.

They'll need water. I use drip irrigation for all my raised beds (on an irrigation timer), as well as some moveable runs in the in-ground garden (moveable because the larger space is subject to crop rotation as well as tilling).

My plants grew to about 8' tall (from the level of the soil), and were in a raised bet with less than 16" of soil depth, and a fabric weed/root barrier on the bottom. They did wonderfully well there, but the soil was well amended with organics. They were a bear to pull up when I went to remove them, but they didn't have a carrot-like taproot scaled to accomodate their topside growth either.
My native soil is sandy loam. It is plenty fertile (doesn't hurt being in an area where there was chicken farming for a long time), but to improve the tilth, I amend that with vast quantities of organic compost. For my 4K+ square foot garden, I have 40 cubic yards of duck manure and rice hull compost on order right now (the last go was 20 CY), waiting for the delivery driver to get over his unease about driving across the property after the rains). Lots of compost improves almost everything.

Propagate by seed.

Why not look up the basic traits online, then ask for discussion about best practices and experiences?

Gaaa! Locusts! Get the torches!
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Sean Straw wrote:

it was a lame attempt at a joke. :)

i find the clay to be very fertile. i'd never call it poor soil. just has certain ways of being that can be worked around at times. main trouble is when it gets too dry at the surface. as much mulch as i can find for free i can always use.

we won't have that trouble here... neither of us does that very often at all.

rhubarb is one of those great plants if you really like it, comes in early enough to be a good source of vegetable/fruitlike filling early in the season. tastes a lot like apples if you can ignore some of the texture and aftermouthfeel aspects. later in the season it goes well with a lot of other things too or it can be put up plain. i give a lot of it away and i only had one bunch of plants last year, but i still gave away 60lbs of the stalks last year. this year i have four bunches (moved one bunch and divided it up). so i will be able to put some up again. have to move another patch this fall. that should give me six to eight clumps.
remember not to harvest too close to a hard frost (oxyalic acid moves from the leaves down to the stalks), give it a week or two to recover.

:) this year well be doing okra, bunching onions and onions from seeds (to grow out for next year if they don't get too big this year). we'll also be putting in onion sets too. we've done them before. red peppers we hope to be doing this year along with the green peppers. for peppers and tomatoes we get them from the greenhouse. he does a good job and we always have had good results.

i've not seen much of that sort of damage in the past and we've grown beets for years. we haven't grown spinach much. last year it grew well for a short period of time but bolted even though the package said it was not supposed to.

even the most shaded patch should get 6-8hrs at least of sun when the sun is out.

if i get a good germination rate i should have a few hundred plants. then i will thin as it goes and i can see what kind of spacing they'll need. i'm assuming the seeds are similar to beets too in that each clump planted will sprout several plants. i.e. that the seeds are not individual seeds...

yes, i'll have to watch this, as we do grow beets, but rarely do the red round root kinds flower, we put them up and if we miss a few in the ground they go to mush over the winter.

seeds in the ground already. will keep tabs on watering. the surrounding garden will need some watering at times too.

*nods*

probably just chop the crown off and bury things to rot.

noway can we afford that. i have to grow as much green manure as i can and i have a worm farm chewing up veggie scraps and chopped greens for organic matter. whatever free stuff i can get that i know the owner didn't spray the lawn or had animals then i'll take leaves and shredded branches or bark. i've had good luck this past year in getting about 20yards of materials brought right to me here. i'll be giving them beans and strawberries this year if they'll want them.

we'll see how that goes. might be a challenge. Ma tends to like getting rid of plants i'd like to see flower.

it's nice to have a conversation once in a while when i know i know very little about the topic. i mean while i've grown houseplants and gardens for many years and know quite a bit in general and have studied soil sciences, biology, botany, ecology, chemistry, etc. it still doesn't mean i know everything. :) it's good to be humble once in a while.

*grins*
songbird
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You're in northern California? Must be a housing tract. Anybody north of north of the bridge will tell you olive oil and garlic, sheesh.
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wrote:

I'm out in the country, and I've had dealings with McEvoy ranch just outside of town.
We use a lot of olive oil in our cooking here, but I'm a big believer in that food should itself bring a desirable flavour to the dish. i personally just didn't find that with the Italian white-ribbed chard - though I do have seed for some other varieties, since I don't write off a veggie after just one type doesn't tickle my fancy.
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Collard greens Culinary use Southern United States Collard greens are a staple vegetable of Southern U.S. cuisine. They are often prepared with other similar green leaf vegetables, such as kale, turnip greens, spinach, and mustard greens in "mixed greens". They are generally eaten year-round in the South. Typical seasonings when cooking collards can consist of smoked and salted meats (ham hocks, smoked turkey drumsticks, pork neckbones, fatback or other fatty meat), diced onions, vinegar, salt, and black, white, or crushed red pepper. Traditionally, collards are eaten on New Year's Day, along with black-eyed peas or field peas and cornbread, to ensure wealth in the coming year, as the leaves resemble folding money.[citation needed] Cornbread is used to soak up the "pot liquor", a nutrient-rich collard broth. Collard greens may also be thinly sliced and fermented to make collard kraut, which is often cooked with flat dumplings.
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Sonoma County's predominant immigrants were Italians, and Jews
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I find that being a green (I plant the green ones rather than the rainbow ones) silver beet ('chard' to you) goes best in rich soil, but then I am a huge fan of silver beet (chard) and use it copiously.

You mean you haven't planted it before? How did you survive without it?

Who cares about the bugs when it's one of those great plants for humans - bugs aren't particulalrly welcome round it if they are going to compete with me for the leaves.

Nope. As soon as the leaves are big enough and there are enough of them, then pick some. It's a cut and come again plant but pick the leaves from the outside. Really tiny leaves are superb in salads. Huge leaves are loved by the chooks or any sort of livestock round here.
As David mentioned, there is that conundrum about eating the stems and/or the leaves. The stems are nice with white sauce to which cheese has been added. Steamed leaves are great in Greek Cheese triangles made with philo pastry and of course there is always Spanakopita (sp??).
And as for the people who say that they must first fry bacon, I'm wondering how on earth they are eating it. The only time I add bacon is if I am using the tiny leaves in a salad and then those leaves are only a minor part of the salad and I only use a tiny amount of really crispy bacon bits to give a bit more crunch to the salad.
You will find some recipe ideas for it here, but being an aussie site you'll need to use using the term 'silver beet' - I got 34 recipe hits but they don't have either the Greek cheese triangles or the salad I use it in. It goes great with cheesey additions: http://www.taste.com.au /
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wrote:

I have never considered beets to be anything but annual. If you only use the leaves, maybe so, but I grow them for the root. Both chard and beet seeds produce multiple plants and you need to remove all but one. I start mine in the greenhouse and as soon as they have sprouted I separate all the seedlings and put each one into a cell. This year I started 66 beet seeds, got 97% germination and set out 148 plants. Each seed had from 1 to 4 plants. I will start harvesting the plants in about a month or less.
I started 6 chard seeds, 5 germinated and I ended up with 15 plants.
I am not fond of beet or chard greens but DH likes the chard. I love beet roots, especially pickled.
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The Cook wrote: ...

*nods* but if you want to get flower and seeds if you can store them and plant them again you get that the second season. no reason why that could also not be a source for beet greens earlier in the season as the plants would have a lot of energy stored in that root. but we are so short on storage space of any kind here that i've not been able to give it a try. perhaps could buy a bundle of fresh beets at the store and put those in. :) sounds like a plan... hmm. uhoh. hahaha... another project.

we eat some fresh, but like you we like them more pickled, i usually dice some onion and steam that on top when steaming the beets before adding the vinegar, sugar and water.
we use the pickled beets and pickled three (or more) bean salad (also with diced onion) as a salad dressing a lot of the time in the middle of winter. we always appreciate it.
if the chard is in season when i'm doing any putting up i'll probably chop and steam it too and toss it in the mix. can't be any worse than canned spinach or any other canned green. the thing with doing it ourselves is that we avoid the metals and the salts of canned commercial foods and pepper in some things. we used to buy the three bean salad, but they added white pepper to it and we both react to pepper.
songbird
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They _are_ beets, albeit ones that have been bred for foliage. Pull up a chard plant and you'll see a vestigial beet on the bottom. And yes, the second year they will put up huge alien flower stalks festooned with Buckyball seeds.
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If you like pickled beets, try pickling the chard stems. Just cut them the length of you jars, pack and pickle them. The rainbow chard is very pretty canned this way. Steve

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Steve Peek wrote:

i'll likely do that if we have extra. diced and added to pickled beets or three bean salad. if we have a huge amount then i'll try canning whole stalks in a small batch for gifts.
we like to use the beets and three bean salad as a topping for salads, larger pieces don't work so well for that application.
songbird
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when it comes to matters of taste

Hmmpf! Obviously the person who thinks that must be a seriously bad cook if that is how they taste to them. I'd stop reading any hints or tips from them.

IIRC, the ubellifera family are the best bug hosts. I'd not heard of lucerne (alfalfa) being a bug haven.
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Farm1 wrote: ...

i'm finding lichens and tropical plants for that family. not sure what plants you might really be meaning here. latin or taxonomy have never been my strong points.
songbird
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