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It is originally from the Mediterranean area and not Switzerland, as it’s common name, Swiss chard, might indicate! It has been suggested that it got the common name after an epidemic of flea beetles ate the leaves so badly that they resembled Swiss cheese! It is a cultivated form of Sea beet

It is more edible than spinach as it does not have as much oxalic acid in it. Apart from being pretty if you grow the multi coloured stem varieties, it is a very useful Summer and Autumn vegetable. Protect the plants from frost and rain over Winter, and they will provide you with fresh “greens” from April or May, when there is very little else to eat. It is a large vigorous plant growing to 45 cm in height, and benefits from fertile moist soil.

Sow the seeds in Spring about 1 cm deep and 30 cm apart with the rows about 45 cm apart. Keep the seed bed moist and apply a slug preventative treatment to prevent slugs and snails eating the young seedlings.

Harvest individual leaves and stems when large enough to pick for the pot.

Pests and diseases. Slugs and snails attack particularly at the seedling stage. Apply a slug preventative treatment. Sometimes flea beetles make small holes in the leaves, but it is not worth getting too exited about this.

Suggested varieties.

Bright Lights or Rainbow Chard. Both these mixtures of different coloured plants provide a colourful display that is good to eat as well. Could be grown in a flower border as it is so colourful.

Storage. Best eaten fresh, but will store in the fridge crispator for a few days.

CHARD  ( Beta vulgaris cicla group)