Its name is immaterial, called silver beet here or chard there, this vegetable remains one of nature's nutrient rich products. A member of the beetroot family its scientific name is beta vulgaris cicla. This plant is sometimes confused with spinach but the leaves are much larger than spinach although both can be picked over a period if they are grown quickly.
These are the ideal fresh vegetable to grow in pots and containers. The plants are fast growing and like lettuce are best eaten while the leaves are young and tender. The leaves are removed from the outside of the plant to allow the new leaves to grow on in the centre of the plant thus giving a continual supply of tasty, fresh and nutritious food. Siler beet is a good source of iron so an invaluable food to have on your table. It saves you money as well being able to pick your own vegetable from a pot on your balcony or deck.
Temperature wise silver beet grows in most climates, in warmer areas the seed can be sown all year, but in the springtime for colder areas. The easiest way of growing chard is filling your container, preferably, a large well drained one with your multi purpose potting mix and planting your seed directly in the pot. The silver beet plants have a long taproot so a reasonably deep container is required.
If you have a source of different varieties or seed packets that come with mixed varieties, use them. It gives your containers a decorative edge while the plants grow. There are white and red stemmed plants. Plant more seeds than you will need, the seedlings appear in ten to fourteen days
After a few weeks, you will notice which are the strongest plants, and time to thin out the weak ones. The seedlings are usually about 10 cms after this time so the small and weak plants will be obvious. Feed them well with either liquid feeds or side dressings of granulated fertilizer that have an increased nitrogen component. Access to chicken manure also works well for silver beet but is too strong for using in pots. Silver beet requires little attention so bugs and diseases are not usually a problem. You will of course, still have to wash carefully before preparing for cooking because the small slugs get hidden in the crinkles of the leaves.
Preparing silver beet or chard for meals requires a good washing under a tap, or soaking in a salt solution for half an hour to rid it of any small bugs. Lightly cook in a small amount of water for a few minutes or alternatively steam until cooked then cover with butter. Butter is not the right thing these days with obesity becoming a problem but it tastes good! Another way if you like garlic, gently fry the chard with crushed garlic in a little oil, I use olive oil, until it is cooked. Whichever way you choose to eat it, silver beet or chard is very good for you and your family.
Maman is a sixty plus liberated woman despite having a husband and four children.
She trained as a nurse and remains interested in health issues. Spent many years farming achieving farm management qualifications and a real insight into animal husbandry. A lifetime of gardening including growing commercially has provided a a real love of plants and knowledge. The next career change included a Diploma in Real Estate and business management, covering buildings and their construction. Growing older then included some time in the hospitality industry and business. http://guru4gardens.com
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