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All good things must come to an end.
It is with some regret that I’ve begun to pull out my Rainbow Chard plants, following eight good months of this most prolific of leafy greens. I’m letting one or two plants go to seed and using what’s left of the others in a stock, or perhaps a Spanakopita, mixed with spinach and silverbeet.
Rainbow Chard is not a variety in itself, but a mix of Chards, hence the differences in colour and texture of the leaves and stalks. As I pulled a few plants out yesterday, I was stunned by the size of the roots – they looked like an edible vegetable in their own right. And apparently this is the case, as Chard is the same species as Beetroot, which explains a lot. Over time, in the west, the leaf has been cultivated at the expense of the root. So I’m going to cook up the next massive root that emerges, just to see what it might be like.
I planted the Chard in late summer 2013, in February I think, and for awhile it competed against very hot weather and the Principessa Borghese tomatoes, which were growing like weeds. But since it got its groove on, around March, the Chard has given us, and many others, a constant supply of vitamins and deliciousness. Within a few days of harvesting an armful, a whole new armful, or two or three, has popped up. The decent rain we’ve been having has helped with this, no doubt, as Chard is a thirsty beast.
Above is CERES‘ crop of Rainbow Chard, from early Spring 2013. CERES tends to focus on crops that are prolific and high in nutritional value in their magnificent and enviable permaculture garden. Here, Chard is interspersed with Tuscan Kale, another leafy vegetable that contains lots of vitamins and has similarly powerful antioxidant properties.
The good thing about living in south-eastern Australia is that you can grow Rainbow Chard all year ’round. It tolerates most soils, although rich in manure and compost is best, and most conditions (although it wouldn’t like a frost). It’s perfect for backyard gardens of any size, as it can be grown in planters or pots, or between other vegetables, such as broccoli in winter or tomatoes in summer.
All in all, Rainbow Chard is the leafy green that just keeps on giving. And I am nominating it as my vegetable of the year for 2013. Stay tuned for a report on the results of cooking the roots. Any one with experience in this realm is most welcome to comment.