Garden & Greenhouse July 2017 Issue - Page 54

FEATURESTORY by Donna Brown Swiss Chard is a Three Season Crop Swiss Chard is a beautiful plant as well as a nu- tritious green and could easily be grown as a showy plant. It is perhaps one of the most nutritious greens you can grow. Recent studies have shown that Swiss Chard contains at least 13 different polyphenol an- tioxidants. One of these is syringic acid that helps regulate blood sugar which prevents carbs from breaking down into simple sugars. In addition, the reddish purple stems of Swiss chard contain beta- cyanin which supports the body's immune system through its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detox- ing effects. mer green. Swiss Chard requires lots of room to grow, so plant seeds one-half inch deep and four inches apart. It can also be planted in peat pots or homemade newspaper pots indoors and then trans- planted outdoors as seedlings into the garden. Planting Swiss Chard is a member of the beet family, therefore, do not plant it in a location vacated by beets, and don't plant beets in a location vacated by Swiss Chard. Like all annual vegetables, plant Swiss Chard in soil that has lots of organic material, specifi- cally compost, worked into it. Soil with lots of or- ganic material, holds nutrients and moisture needed for fast growth. It will grow in full sun, but will also grow in an area with partial afternoon shade. It can tolerate temperatures as low as 20 degrees F. so plant it as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. This is a very flexible plant and can be grown the entire growing season by planting it in the spring, summer and fall. It makes a good fall crop and can also tolerate heat, and does not readily go to seed like other greens and as a result makes a good sum- Seasonal Care When the Swiss Chard plants reach two inches in height, weed them well and begin adding mulch. I usually like to start with a half inch of grass clippings followed by a couple inches of well-rotted sawdust. Using this type of mulching eliminates the need for any type of additional feeding during the growing season. It requires about an inch of water per week. The only problem that Swiss Chard may have is with cutworms. If it is found cut off at ground level, cutworms are the likely culprit. Cutworms are often found in soil that was in grass the prior year, so if you plant Swiss Chard in soil vacated by grass, sprin- kle crushed eggshells or diatomaceous earth around young plants to prevent further damage. 54 Companion Plants Bush beans (but not pole beans), onions and kohlrabi are excellent companions for Swiss Chard. With the exception of mustard, Swiss chard also grows well with other salad greens of both the let- tuce and the cabbage families. (Continued on page 60) July 2017