"The watering of a garden requires as much judgement as the seasoning of a soup."
Helena Rutherford Ely
This is the first year that we have grown chard in our garden. I tried to last year but for some reason it did not take. This year it is well established in the soil and we have already begun to harvest the young leaves as part of our salad mixture.
Chard is a giant in the world of healthy vegetables. One cup of Swiss chard contains over 300% of your daily dose of Vitamin K, which is important for maintaining bone health. It is also an excellent source of Vitamin A due to its large concentration of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is converted into Vitamin A in the body. One cup of chard contains nearly 110% of your daily Vitamin A. It is believed that beta-carotene may help reduce your risk to certain types of cancer, specifically skin cancer. There is also a link between Vitamin A and lung health as well. Chard also supplies over 50% of your daily Vitamin C, which is a beneficial anti-oxidant. This tart vegetable is also a good source of potassium, magnesium, fiber and Vitamin E. Vitamin E interestingly enough is the bodies primary fat soluble anti-oxidant and is believed to help prevent colon cancer.
Swiss chard is in season from June through August. You can eat the leaves and the stems though there is a tendency to focus on the leaves. The younger the plant the less bitter it is but from my experience it still has a bit of zing when young so it may be worth preparing it like spinach when it is a bit more mature and adding a little of sea salt and butter to smooth out the flavor.
Rainbow chard is nice in the garden or on the plate visually as well, with the stalks ranging from yellow to red. The second time around I have to say it seems like a sturdy plant and you can put it in the ground in early spring even in the cool northern weather.