Thursday, December 3, 2009

T. Delaney Seam Studio Grows Beta vulgaris var. cicla: Chard  ‘Ruby Chard’  at  UCSF Botanical & Medicinal Garden

Family: Chenopodiaceae
Origin: Sicily, Mediterranean area


Chard, a leafy vegetable, a.k.a. Swiss Chard, Silverbeet, Perpetual Spinach, Spinach Beet, Crab Beet, Seakale Beet and Mangold, is a Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima. The word Swiss was used to distinguish chard from French spinach varieties by 19th century seed catalog publishers. Usually grown as an annual, it is a true biennial. Unlike its cousin the beet, chard is not grown for its fleshy roots but for its large crumpled leaves with fleshy edible stems growing throughout the year.

USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-10 This is an easy vegetable to grow. It prefers full sun and fertile slightly alkaline garden soil. It is quite heat tolerant but flourishes in cooler seasons.

Culinary Use:

Leaves and stem: can be eaten in salads, soups or simply steamed or sautéed. Other kinds of chard have the same properties and flavor as red chard but not the same pretty color stalks/stems as red chard.

Medicinal Use:

Chard is a cruciferous vegetable, meaning that it is high in anti-oxidants and thus proclaimed to possess cancer fighting properties. Other vegetables in this group include broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage and turnips. Chard has beta-carotene (an antioxidant) and is a good source of calcium.

Low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol. High in Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, C, E, K, B6, Riboflavin, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper, Manganese, Thiamin, Folate and Zinc. Also high in Sodium.

Ornamental Use:

Chard also has ornamental value and can be incorporated into container plantings and mixed borders.