Thursday, June 14, 2012

First Swiss Chard Harvest!

Last night we had our first meal using a vegetable from the garden. It wasn't just any veggie either; it was one of all-time favorite vegetables: rainbow Swiss chard!

View of the stems, my favorite part of the chard!
Although I normally like to saute greens like collards, kale, or spinach, my favorite way to enjoy chard remains a simple steam just until it's tender but still has a slight bite in the stems, sort of like an al dente pasta. Then I put just a touch of butter and a little fresh ground pepper on it, and that's it! I like my greens to still have some life and color left to them, especially when they are so colorful!

Don't throw the stems away! Unlike some cooking greens, the stems of chard are delicious and tender!
The great thing about harvesting chard is that if you take only the large outer leaves it will continue to produce for you all summer long. I tried using kitchen shears to harvest these leaves, but I think a small knife works better because you can cut the leaf right down near the bottom so that no stem is wasted. As you can see from the last picture below, this dinner portion barely put a dent in the chard container. Based on my experience with it so far, I would say that the 6.5 gallon square planter that I'm using with about 6 chard plants in it will grow extremely well and provide two people who LOVE cooking greens with plenty of chard for a couple of dinners per week.

The chard box AFTER we harvested our dinner... still plenty left!
In terms of other goings on in the garden, I planted some collard greens in the Romanesco pot (it had been decimated by the hungry hungry caterpillar) so I'm hoping that we'll have a nice fall crop of collards to follow up the chard. I've never grown them, but according to everything I've read and heard collards take about 90 days from seeding to harvest, so that would make this planting a mid-September crop. The great thing about collards is that they actually improve in terms of taste (they get sweeter and more tender) with frost, so I'm hoping that by the time they are really ready to harvest we can get a solid 6 weeks or so out of them, as they not only enjoy the cool weather but will also continually produce like chard does. I know some people who harvest collards into November even here in Western NY! Chard will usually truck along until late summer, but eventually the fun ends and it will go to seed or get taken out by the frost.

If you are like me and want cool new stuff to look forward to from the garden even in the fall, try collards and kale (which I am planting as soon as the broccoli is done). Kale is delicious sauteed with a little olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper (just remove the stems!), is tough as nails, and has the added benefit of being just about the healthiest thing you can eat.

Until next time, happy gardening!


  1. Beautiful photos what kind of camera are you using?

    1. Thank you! It's a Kodak Easy Share z710 digital. An oldie (as technology goes) but still a goodie!