Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Chards are ideal for the kitchen and greenhouse

There are so many benefits to using a greenhouse in the garden that it can be difficult for growers to narrow down their options and choose a few they can manage. 

By far one of the most popular uses for the controlled environment is for food – specifically nurturing your own fruit and vegetables from seed. 

Clearly, there are many benefits to this, as it is useful to have your own fresh food at hand. It can negate the chances of food bought from a shop going to waste – and is also satisfying as a gardening task. 

Chard is one great example of a plant that is perfectly suited to this purpose. It is characterized by leaves that are green or reddish in color – and the stalks demonstrate a similar variety. 

They are best sown in clusters of seeds throughout the spring and summer period – anywhere between April and August is recommended. The precise time is dependant on the desired harvesting period, so the specifics are really up to you. 

There is also a great deal of scope as to exactly when the leaves are picked, as some people like eating the leaves when they are young and tender, but there is just as much to be said for the tougher stems of the more mature plant. 

Former presenter of television magazine show Gardeners' World and garden writer Alys Fowler suggested that rather than the leaves, it is the stems of the chard plant that have the most appeal. 

In an article for UK national newspaper the Guardian, she acknowledged that the leaves are pleasant enough, but asserted that it is the nutty and crunchy taste of the stem that is the reason she always makes sure to grow plenty of chard. 

"Sow now, and you can continue picking throughout the winter," she commented, adding: "The white forms are hardier than coloured ones. You can often pick right the way through to mid-spring, when lengthening days mean the plants' desire to bolt cannot be stopped. 

"It is possible to eat the immature flower stalk, but I often leave plants to flower, where they add height to the spring garden," the expert continued. 

Ms Fowler concluded: "This plant is truly perennial and can be left to grow in some neglected corner, where it will remain unbothered by slugs or snails."

This also means it is perfect for those who are looking to bulk out their kitchen options with a plant that is a little more low-maintenance than usual.