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Growing your choice of chards.

Noted for its huge leaves and crisp stems, chard is one of the easiest greens to grow. It produces an abudant harvest over a long season and is much less prone to bolting than most cool-season greens.

Varieties you can grow at home are also sweeter than market kinds and don't have the metallic taste sometimes present in commercially grown varieties.

Botanically similar to beets, chard was developed for its foliage. The leaves grow 2 or more feet tall and range from flat to crinkled. The crisp midribs vary from very wide like those of 'Argentata' and 'Dorat', to the celery-likes ones of 'Fordhook Giant' and 'Ruby Red'.

Used interchangeably with spinach, chard has a slightly earthier flavor, more body, and a lower water content, so it doesn't shrink down as much when cooked. Use it in soups, stir-fries, and lasagne, or as a side dish steamed with a little butter. It also makes good bundle wrappers.

HOW TO GROW CHARD

Order seed now for planting in early spring. Harvest starts in six to eight weeks and continues through fall (in hottest climates, plants won't grow through summer). In mild coastal areas, chard grows year-round.

When direct-seeded, chard germinates easily (more so than spinach). Sow thinly 1/2 to 3/4 inch deep in rows 12 to 18 inches apart; tamp soil and sprinkle lightly. When plants are 3 inches tall, thin to a foot apart. Keep soil moist.

Bait for snails. At the first sign of aphids, spray leaves with insecticidal soap. Begin harvesting outer leaves when they're 7 to 9 inches tall.

WHERE TO GET SEEDS

The following catalogs offer varieties unavailable at most nurseries. Some catalogs list chard under Swiss chard.

The Cook's Garden, Box 535, Londonderry, Vt. 05148. Catalog $1.

Nichols Garden Nursery, 1190 N. Pacific Highway, Albany, Ore. 97321. Free catalog.

Ornamental Edibles, 3622 Weedin Court, San Jose, Calif. 95132. Catalog $2.

Seeds Blum, Idaho City Stage, Boise, Idaho 83706. Catalog $3.

Shepherd's Garden Seeds, 6116 Highway 9, Felton, Calif. 95018. Catalog $1.

Territorial Seed Company, Box 157, Cottage Grove, Ore. 97424. Catalog free.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Swezey, Lauren Bonar
Publication:Sunset
Date:Feb 1, 1992
Words:349
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