Swiss Chard 'Rhubarb' is an attractive and delicious vegetable used much the same as spinach.
The plant produces excellent yields of crimson stalks, with veins, the colour of Rhubarb and with dark green crumpled leaves, all edible.
|When to Sow
|March to October (March/April indoors, May to October outdoors)
|For all year round supply, make 2 sowings - sow late spring and then again in mid to late summer.
|Where to Sow
|Swiss Chard will grow almost anywhere, however prefers fertile and well draining soil in a open, sunny site. Preferred pH neutral to slightly acidic ( 6.5pH to 7.0pH).
|Early sowings can be made indoors, in modules or trays. Sow 1 cluster per module , 1cm (1/2in) deep.
|Sow outdoors in final growing position,1cm (1/2in) deep, 5cm (2in) apart with rows 30 cm (12in) apart.
|What to do Next
|For indoor sowings, once the seedlings appear transplant to final growing position after hardening off for 7 days. Plant 30cm (12in) apart in rows 30cm (12in) apart.
|For outdoor sowings, as seedlings appear thin out weakest seedlings gradually until plants are spaced 30cm (12in)apart. Alternatively wait until some of the plants have leaves which are 15cm (6in) long and thin these plants and treat as an early baby leaf harvest.
|If growing in a pot or container, which is 45cm in diameter, aim to have about 3-4 plants growing to maturity once you have thinned out seedlings.
|Protect young seedlings from birds.
|Water well, especially during periods of dry weather, and keep weed free.
|Jan to Dec
|Cut leaves as soon as they are large enough to harvest, this will usually be 28 days (4 weeks) for baby leaves and 55 days (8 weeks) for mature leaves, after sowing.
|Regular cropping of leaves encourages new growth. Cut young leaves for salads, leaving the more mature leaves for cooking.
|In winter, cover plants with a cloche, fleece or poly tunnel to prevent rot and prolong harvest.
|Remove any old leaves as they begin to wilt and if a flower stem appears cut back to encourage further cropping.
|Good companion: Brassicas and beans.
|Bad companion: Cucumbers, potatoes, tomatoes.
|Rich in Beta carotene, calcium and iron.
|The young 'baby leaves' are delicious in salads or use the more mature leaves as you would spinach, either steamed and served as any other green vegetable, and the stalks (chards) can be chopped and added to stir fries.
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