About Me

My photo
Always happy to meet fellow gardeners and dog lovers! Feel free to e-mail me with questions or comments about all things gardening, especially hostas!

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Grow Swiss Chard

Part of our Growing Your Greens Series






Swiss Chard


aka  Spinach Beet, Leaf Beet                               
Annual, Perennial in warmer climates.
Height:  1-3'   Width:  Up to 2'


Swiss Chard is both edible and beautiful as an ornamental plant.  It has colorful stems and bright green leaves making it as glamorous as it is nutritious.  It is high in vitamins A and C and a good source of calcium.  Swiss Chard will keep growing long after other greens have bolted.

Types:
Reddish, creamy white or colorful stalks, all of which taste mostly the same.






Starting Seeds of Swiss Chard

Seed Depth:                    1/2" to 3/4" deep.
Seed Spacing:                 4", or thin seedlings later to 4" apart.
Germination Temp:          50+ degrees.  Optimum 85 degrees.
Days to Germinate:          5-7 days.
Days to Harvest:              40 - 60 days, depending on the variety.
Seed Longevity:               4 years.


Sowing Indoors:
Spring:  Sow 2 weeks before your average last frost date.  Plant outside after threat of frost has passed.


Sowing Outdoors:

Spring:  Direct Sow outdoors after the last frost date.
Fall:   Direct Sow 10 weeks before the average first frost date.


                                            

Winter Sowing

If you haven't tried winter sowing, you're in for a treat.  This method is especially good for sowing herbs and greens.  Winter sowing is basically sowing seeds in the bottom of a milk jug during the winter, setting the milk jugs outside for the winter and leaving them there until the seeds germinate in Spring.
See our Winter Sowing article on our website for detailed information.



Growing Swiss Chard Plants


Growing Temperature:   Tolerates both cool weather and heat.
                                       Tolerates light frosts in the spring and fall.
Plant Spacing:                5" to harvest often.  Mature plants 12".
Container Size:              12" deep, 12" wide.  3 in a 14" wide pot.
Sun/Shade:                    Prefers sun, but will tolerate shade.
Soil:                                Rich, fertile.  Amend with some compost.
Watering:                       Consistent moisture for best flavor.



Fertilizing

Since greens are such a  fast-growing crop, as long as they are grown in rich soil there may be little need for further fertilization.    That said, a liquid balanced fertilizer when the seedlings are 4" tall will give your greens a boost and carry them through their short season.  After the temperatures warm, though, the leaves of Swiss Chard will turn bitter and no amount of fertilizer will help at that point.



Harvesting Swiss Chard


Harvest anytime leaves are big enough to eat, usually at 6".
Cut stalks from the outside of the plant, leaving the heart which will continue to grow.  Overgrown chard will lose flavor.




Using Swiss Chard

  • Use young raw leaves in salads.
  • Large leaves can be cooked down like Spinach to use in casseroles, soups, and pasta.


Storing Swiss Chard For Later Use

Although tender green-leafed plants, like lettuce, cannot be preserved well, the thicker green-leafed plants can be.
Fresh
  • Clean and pat dry.  Bundle stems lightly, place on a paper towel (to absorb moisture) and wrap in a plastic bag.  Keeps in refrigerator for 10 days.


Freezing for Later Use in Chilis, Soups, Sauces, and Casseroles.
  • Steam or saute' leaves, chop them and store in freezer bags.
  • Puree with water and freeze into ice cube trays.
  • Clean and dry the leaves and store in quart size freezer bags.
  • Frozen leaves will keep for 6 months.
  • Blanching the leaves first will extend freezer storage to 14 months.


To read the other articles in our Growing Your Greens series, click on the name below:







Swiss Chard


Check out our other great gardening articles:  Click Here

Check out our hosta articles:  Click Here


Love Hostas or know someone who does?
Visit our website for great hostas at an affordable price.




Grow Spinach

Part of our Grow Your Greens Series



Spinach
Annual
Height:  6" to 3'   Width:  3" to 15"

A cool weather quick-growing annual related to Beets and Swiss Chard.  Spinach has high amounts of carotenoids, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, folic acid, iron, and calcium.  It is one of the healthiest salad choices you can make.

Types:
Savory Spinach.  Dark green crinkled leaves.  It grows flatter compared to other Spinach.  It tends to be more cold-hardy and becomes sweet and crispy after a frost.

Flat-Leaf Spinach.  Grows more upright and easier to wash.

Semi-Savory.  A hybrid between the two.  Leaves aren't as crinkled or as smooth.



Starting Seeds of Spinach

Seed Depth:                 1/2" deep
Seed Spacing:              2" apart, thin seedlings to 4-5" apart.  Mature 10-12".
Days to Germinate:       1 week at 60 degrees.
Days to Harvest:           20-30 days for baby greens.
                                      35-45 days mature leaves.

Seed Longevity:            1-3 years.

Sowing Indoors:

Spring:  Sow seeds  3-4 weeks before your last average frost date.  Transplant out as soon as seedlings are easily handled.  Note that spinach doesn't always transplant well.

Sowing Outdoors:

Spring:  Direct sow in the ground or a container as soon as the soil can be worked.  Succession sow every 2 weeks until mid-May.  Covering with a shade net or row cover will hasten germination.

Fall:  Direct sow in the ground or container 6 weeks before your first average frost date.


 

Winter Sowing:

If you haven't tried winter sowing, you're in for a treat.  This method is especially good for sowing herbs and greens.  Winter sowing is basically sowing seeds in the bottom of a milk jug during the winter, setting the milk jugs outside for the winter and leaving them there until the seeds germinate in Spring.

For a detailed article all about Winter Sowing, click here.





Growing Spinach Plants


Growing Temperature:       41 - 75 degrees.  Survives light frosts.
Plant Spacing:                   5" to harvest small or 8-12" for mature leaves.
Container Size:                 Spinach has a deep taproot.  The pot must be 12" deep.
Sun/Shade:                       Full sun to part shade.
Soil:                                   Well-drained, sandy soil rich in organic matter.
Watering:                           Water consistently for the best flavor.  Water stress will
                                          cause Spinach to bolt early.


Fertilizing:

Since greens are such a  fast-growing crop, as long as they are grown in rich soil there may be little need for further fertilization.    That said, a liquid balanced fertilizer when the seedlings are 4" tall will give your greens a boost and carry them through their short season.  After the temperatures warm, though, the leaves of Spinach will turn bitter and no amount of fertilizer will help at that point.  Too much nitrogen gives Spinach a metallic flavor.



Growing Tips

  • When the Spinach plant is about to bolt, pull the entire plant to harvest before the leaves become bitter.
  • Shade the plant at temperatures over 80 degrees.
  • Cut the entire plant an inch above ground level to encourage the plant to regrow another crop of leaves.


Harvesting Spinach

Harvest anytime Spinach is large enough to eat.  Harvest young outer leaves to allow centers to grow larger and keep producing which also will delay bolting.



Using Spinach

  • Use fresh spinach for salads.
  • Chop fresh Spinach to add to chilis, soups or sauces two minutes before serving.
  • Sauteed Spinach, Spinach Dip, Spinach Salads, Creamed Spinach.


Storing Spinach For Later Use

Spinach loses its nutritional quality quickly after harvest, so harvest right before processing.
Although tender green-leafed plants, like lettuce, cannot be preserved well, the thicker leafed greens can be preserved.

Fresh
  • Clean and pat dry.  Bundle stems lightly, place on a paper towel (to absorb moisture) and wrap in a plastic bag.  Keeps in refrigerator for 10 days.



Freezing for Later Use in Chili, Soups, Sauces, and Casseroles.
  • Steam or saute' leaves, chop them and store in freezer bags.
  • Puree with water and freeze into ice cube trays.
  • Clean and dry the leaves and store in quart size freezer bags.
  • Frozen leaves will keep for 6 months.
  • Blanching the leaves for two minutes first will extend freezer storage to 14 months.        

To read the other articles in our Growing Your Greens series, click on the name below:






Swiss Chard


Check out our other great gardening articles:  Click Here

Check out our hosta articles:  Click Here


Love hostas or know someone who does?
Visit our website for great hostas at an affordable price.

SunsetHostaFarm.com

       

Grow Radicchio

Part of our Grow Your Greens Series





Radicchio


aka Red Chicory                                         
Tender perennial grown as an annual

Height  6-12"       Width  6-12"

This bitter Italian heading chicory is a salad favorite for its color alone.  It has gorgeous deep garnet white-based leaves that add rich color and texture to salads.  The heads are small, reaching a size between an orange and a grapefruit.

Types:  Mostly heading types






Starting Seeds of Radicchio

Seed Depth:                  1/8th" or less.
Seed Spacing:               6" apart.
Germination Temp:        Optimum 70-75 degrees.
Days to Germinate:        7-14.
Days to Harvest:            60-65 or 120-130 days, depending on the variety.
Seed Longevity:             4 years.

Sowing Indoors:

Spring:  8-10 weeks before your average last frost date.
Plant out 4 weeks before your average last frost date.

Sowing Outdoors:

Spring:  Direct Sow 8 weeks before your average last frost date.  
Fall:  Direct Sow mid-summer.





Winter Sowing

If you haven't tried winter sowing, you're in for a treat.  This method is especially good for sowing herbs and greens.  Winter sowing is basically sowing seeds in the bottom of a milk jug during the winter, setting the milk jugs outside for the winter and leaving them there until the seeds germinate in Spring.

For a detailed article about Winter Sowing, click here.



Growing Radicchio Plants

Growing Temperature:   45-75 degrees.  Light frosts sweeten the flavor.
                                      Can survive into the low 20's.
Plant Spacing:               Space seedlings 6" apart. Mature size 8".
Container Size:              8"+ deep.  Radicchio has shallow roots.
Sun/Shade:                    Mostly sunny.  Likes part shade during the hottest part
                                      of the day.

Soil:                               Can grow in a variety of soils.  Prefers good drainage.
Watering:                       Consistent irrigation for the best flavor.


Fertilizing:

If fertilizing is necessary, a side dressing of high nitrogen (the first number on the N-P-K scale), lower phosphate (the second number on the N-P-K-scale) is 
recommended when the plant is almost a third of the way through the season.





Growing Tips

  • If the plant sends up a stalk instead of forming a head, cut off the stalk at ground level to encourage the formation of a new head.
  • The bitter flavor is often due to hot weather.


Harvesting Radicchio

As soon as heads are firm and compact.
Radicchio matures in approximately 3 months.  It should be picked when it's mature, but not old.




Using Radicchio

  • Eat fresh or cook like Spinach.
  • Core out the small heads and remove the center to create leafy bread.
  • Radicchio's bitter flavor pairs well with the acidic sweetness of Balsamic Vinegar.
  • Salt will counteract the bitter flavor and draw out the high sugar content.


Storing Radicchio For Later Use

Although tender green-leafed plants, like lettuce, cannot be preserved well, the thicker green-leafed plants can be.

Fresh
  • Clean and pat dry.  Bundle stems lightly, place on a paper towel (to absorb moisture) and wrap in a plastic bag.  Keeps in refrigerator for 10 days.

Freezing for Later Use in Chilis, Soups, Sauces, and Casseroles.
  • Steam or saute' leaves, chop them and store in freezer bags.
  • Puree with water and freeze into ice cube trays.
  • Clean and dry the leaves and store in quart size freezer bags.
  • Frozen leaves will keep for 6 months.
  • Blanching the leaves for two minutes will extend freezer storage to 14 months.

To read the other articles in our Growing Your Greens series, click on the name below:






Swiss Chard


Check out our other great gardening articles:  Click Here

Check out our hosta articles:  Click Here


Love hostas for know someone who does?
Visit our website for great hostas at an affordable price!






Grow Lettuce

Part of our Grow Your Greens Series





Lettuce


Annual
Height:  9-12:      Width:  6"

Lettuce comes in many different varieties including leaf lettuces, crispheads, summer crisps, icebergs, romaine, butterheads, and bibbs.  Here's a  short description of each.

Leaf lettuce.  Forms a loose rosette of tender, sweet-tasting leaves in 4-6 weeks.
Summer Crisps.  Loosehead of large, crisp leaves with good flavor.

Crispheads.  A combination of romaine and iceberg types.  Crunchy texture.
Romaines.  Oblong leaves that form fairly loose, upright heads.

Butterhead and Bibb.  Broad rosettes of tender, wavy leaves with a delicate flavor and creamy texture.

There are early varieties for spring planting and heat-tolerant varieties for Fall planting.




Starting Seeds of Lettuce

Seed Depth:                     1/4" - 1/2".  Need light to germinate.
Seed Spacing:                  Thin to 6-8" apart.
Days to Germinate:           7-14 days.
Days to Harvest:               Leaf Lettuce  30-50 days.
                                          Head Lettuce  100 days
.
Seed Longevity:                2 Years

Sowing Indoors:

Start Romaine, iceberg and other head lettuces indoors 4-6 weeks before the average last frost date, making three small sowings at weekly intervals.


Sowing Outdoors:

Spring:  Direct sow as soon as soil can be worked.
Fall:  Direct sow 4-8 weeks before your average first frost date.

--



Winter Sowing:

If you haven't tried winter sowing, you're in for a treat.  This method is especially good for sowing herbs and greens.  Winter sowing is basically sowing seeds in the bottom of a milk jug during the winter, setting the milk jugs outside for the winter and leaving them there until the seeds germinate in Spring.

For our separate article with details about Winter Sowing, click here.






Growing Lettuce Plants


Growing Temperature:        55-60 degrees during the growing season.
                                            Will survive light frosts.

Plant Spacing:                     Leaf Lettuce - 1" for continuing harvest
                                             Head Lettuce - 8"
                                             Summer Crisps - 8-12"
                                             Iceberg - 8-12"
                                             Romaine - 10"
                                             Butterhead - 8-10"
                                             Bibb - 6-8"

Container Size:                    Shallow Roots.  6" deep.
Sun/Shade:                          Full sun for best yields.  Tolerates part shade.
Soil:                                      Plenty of compost will encourage fast growth.
Watering:                             Consistent water for the best flavor.
                                             Lack of moisture causes bitterness.




Fertilizing

Since greens are such a  fast-growing crop, as long as they are grown in rich soil there may be little need for further fertilization.    That said, a liquid balanced fertilizer when the seedlings are 4" tall will give your greens a boost and carry them through their short season.  After the temperatures warm, though, the leaves of Lettuce will turn bitter and no amount of fertilizer will help at that point.




Growing Tips

Extending the Growing Season:
Start romaine, iceberg and other head lettuce indoors 4-6 weeks before the average last frost date, making three small sowings at weekly intervals.
Set out the seedlings and direct sow leaf lettuce outdoors at 2-week intervals.  If you plan to harvest only leaves, sow entire loose-leaf crop at once.




Harvesting Lettuce

Leaf Lettuces.  Harvest outer leaves as soon as they're a usable size.
                         Harvest entire plant at 2" above soil level for cut-and-come-again.


Head Lettuces.  Cut the head away from the stalk when the head is still firm.
                           Head lettuce will be freshest when harvested in the morning




Storing Lettuce For Later Use


Tendergreen leaves, like Lettuce, can't be preserved well.

Fresh
Loose leafed lettuce will store 7-10 days in a crisper.
Head lettuce will store 1-3 weeks in the crisper



To read the other articles in our Growing Your Greens series, click on the name below:







Swiss Chard


Check out our other great gardening articles:  Click Here

Check out our hosta articles:  Click Here




Love hostas or know someone who does?
Visit our website for great hostas at an affordable price

Popular Posts