Belinda asked me about growing chard (ages ago!) so here'a ramble about chard.
|My chard about a month ago|
It came through this cold winter
with some protection from an old window propped over it
(see the brick?, that was propping the window up)
Chard is probably technically a biennial, which means it will run to seed in it's second year. I always have some on the go somewhere in the garden. It is fairly hardy, and will come through a mild winter without any protection. I always sow some late in the year then protect it with a cloche (or old window!) when it's really cold over winter and then I get a mad flush of growth in the spring before it rushes up to flower/seed. Mine is just running up to seed now, and I'm having to harvest it like crazy and give it away/freeze some. I also let a few plants actually run up to flower and seed and then randomly scatter the seed about in empty spaces. I always have chard coming up here and there and I just allow them to grow in any spaces I don't need for some other crop. They don't transplant very well except when very small and in very cool/wet weather, so I just use the thinnings in salads or cooked.
I use the leafy bits just like spinach and chuck them in stews, lasagne, risotto, in fact most meals right now as we have so much. The thick stems I cook separately and either cook and eat on their own as a veg or put in stews etc.