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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Bright Lights in Your Survival Garden?

Swiss chard is one of the easiest crops you can grow in your survival garden, and it’s quite nutritious as well. Pictured above is Bright Lights Swiss chard, a very popular variety that produces colorful long stems that will amaze you. Your kids will love the various bright colors. I’ve grown this variety, and I’m not kidding when I say you’ll see electric yellows, pinks, crimsons, oranges, purples, whites, and greens. Some of the stems will keep their color even after cooking.

Several features make Swiss chard easy and fun to grow. The seeds are large enough to handle easily. If you’re square foot gardening, you can plant four per square foot. This makes Swiss chard ideal for containers, too. Chard will grow from spring through fall, and you can even over winter it with protection, as I’ve done in a greenhouse, though it’s not known as a hardy plant.

Leaves are ready to harvest 60 days after planting. One thing I like best about Swiss chard is that it’s a “cut and come again” crop. Cut off leaves to within a couple inches of the crown, and it will grow back to produce more. It’s an ideal low maintenance crop.

Swiss chard can be eaten raw or cooked. It’s quite tasty in a fresh salad or cooked like spinach with a little butter. The flavor is mild, not strong like some greens. A cup contains one gram of fiber, one gram of protein, 44% of the recommended daily amount (RDA) of vitamin A and 18% of vitamin C. It also contains calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, and copper.

When you’re ready to order Bright Lights, click on the picture above, and you’ll be taken to the page on the Park Seed site featuring Bright Lights Swiss chard. Of course, Park’s has other varieties, if you’d like something a little more conventional and less flashy. There are 125 seeds to a packet, and you’ll want to get several packets to have on hand.

You don’t have to be a gourmet gardener or cook to put some color and nutrition in your survival garden. Grow some Swiss chard, and you’re sure to have a supply of excellent, easy growing, nutritious greens.