So easy to grow, pretty in the garden and on the plate, Swiss Chard is a winner in any garden – even containers. You might notice that the leaves look more like beet greens than salad greens, and that’s because chard is an ancestor of the beet. As a result, you won’t get much leaf from each plant. Though they do grow more leaves as they’re harvested (twist or cut off close to the ground).
You could call Swiss Chard a mellower kind of spinach, and in fact they are also related. If you’ve never had chard, its leaves are in between romaine lettuce and spinach in density, mild in flavor and can be eaten raw or wilted like spinach. Cook stems separately, steaming or roasting (my favorite) like asparagus.
Chard, like all veggies, is good for you, too. Loaded with vitamins A, C and K, low in calories and high in fiber.
Like most greens, chard likes cooler weather, so plant according to package directions as early as possible in the spring after the last frost. If that’s not possible, plant between taller plants like corn and mulch the roots heavily. In the heat of summer, chard prefers partial shade. Or plant those beauties in an indoor container in an air-conditioned home.
If you just like the look of chard, but not the taste, you could plant it as a treat for animals like rabbits, gerbils and chickens. And you can always trade your chard for the neighbor’s squash.