The Owl and The Pussy Cat

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea In a beautiful 'red and white'(!) boat, They took some honey, and plenty of money, Wrapped up in a five pound note. The Owl looked up to the stars above, And sang to a small guitar, 'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love, What a beautiful Pussy you are, You are, You are!What a beautiful Pussy you are!'

Edward Lear

Monday, 10 June 2013

Chard in the vegetable garden

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.


  1. Thanks Nina! Much appreciated.
    Three more questions:
    Can you delay it running to seed by cutting out the central flowering stalk?
    Does it run to seed more quickly if it gets dry?
    What is the best way to harvest it? Do you cut off a few leaves from the outside or do you cut the whole thing down to the ground and let it sprout up again?
    Sorry to go on about it so much. As you can tell, I love chard - and it does so well in Devon.

    1. Oh my goodness, I answer one question and get 3 more!!
      Cutting out the central stalk doesn't really delay the flowering much, best to just harvest the whole thing. You CAN cut it back and new shoots will appear, but the leaves get smaller and smaller. Yes, dryness will speed up the running to seed process. If it's not running to seed then I just keep taking the large outside leaves off. The leaves can get surprisingly huge and knarly and still be ok to eat, and even when the flower stalks are 2 or 3 feet high (as mine are now) the leaves are still ok to eat. I haven't watered mine at all this year as I am limited to a couple of water butts at the allotment, so seedlings get priority.

  2. What a handy veg this looks to be! I've never eaten it though we eat a lot of spinach - this could be a good idea for us!

    1. I think chard is far superior to spinach. It's much slower to run to seed, hardier, and I don't like the 'furry' mouth feel that I get from spinach (and rhubarb). Must sort out my comment logo, I seem to get an exclamation mark instead of a nice picture! Glad you're still reading my erratic posts!