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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 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 last frost date.
Fall:   Direct Sow 10 weeks before 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 pastas.


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 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 tap root.  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 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 Spinach plant is about to bolt, pull 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 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 which 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 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 sweetens 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 best flavor.


Fertilizing:

If fertilizing is necessary, a side dressing of a high nitrogen (first number on the N-P-K scale), lower phosphate (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 formation of a new head.
  • 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 center to create a 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 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 varieities including leaf lettuces, crispheads, summer crisps, icebergs, romaines, 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.  Loose head 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 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 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 form the stalk when the head is still firm.
                           Head lettuce will be freshest when harvested in the morning




Storing Lettuce For Later Use


Tender green 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 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

Grow Kale

Part of our Grow Your Greens Series




Kale


A hardy biennial usually grown as an annual.
Height 12-18"    Width  8-12"


When it comes to Kale in salads, Kale adds substance, color and most importantly nutrition.  Its colorful leaves are packed with vitamins and minerals.  Kale's leaf texture can range from deeply puckered to deeply frilled.

Types:
Curley Leaf (Scotts Kale).  Noticeable pungent flavor with a peppery quality.


Dinosaur Kale.  Hearty leaves that are tall and narrow.  It retains its firm texture even after cooked.  It is slightly sweeter with a more delicate taste.

Red Russian Kale.  Flat, fringed leaves that resemble large Arugula leaves.  Great sweet flavor with a bit of pepper.

Rape kale (aka Leaf and Spear).  A cross between curly leaf and plain leaf.



Starting Seeds of Kale


Seed Depth:                     1/2"
Seed Spacing:                  3"
Days to Germinate:           5-7 days.
Days to Harvest:   
70-95 from seed.  55-75 days from transplants.

Seed Longevity:               2 years.


Sowing Indoors:

Spring:  Sow 5-7 weeks before your last average frost date.  Plant out as transplants 1-2 weeks before your average expected frost date.


Sowing Outdoors:

Spring:  Direct sow 2-4 weeks before your average last frost date or as soon as the soil can be worked.


    


















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.


To see our full Winter Sowing article, click here.


Growing Kale Plants


Growing Temperature:          60-65 degrees down to 20 degrees.
Plant Spacing:                      Thin plants to 12-15" apart.
Container Size:                     6-8" depth.
Sun/Shade:                           Part sun/part shade.
Soil:                                       Rich in nitrogen.
Watering:                               Consistent moisture for best flavor.
                                              Water heavily during
growing season.


Fertilizing:
If grown in nutrient rich soil, your Kale plants won't need any fertilizer until after the first flush of leaves.  Then one side dressing of a balanced fertilizer is all that the plant should need for the growing season. 





Harvesting Kale

Harvest Kale when plant is 8-10" high, starting with the outside leaves.  To harvest the entire plant, cut 2" above ground level.  Plant will sprout new leaves in 1-2 weeks.


   Using Kale


  • Remove stems before cooking.
  • Use young leaves raw in salads
  • Substitute Kale for spinach in any recipe.
  • Kale chips, Kale pesto, sauteed Kale, Kale Quich, Kale Soup, Kale slaw.
    Kale can also be used as a garnish
    !

Storing Kale For Later Use


Although tender green leaves, like Lettuce, can't be preserved well, the thicker leaved greens can be.
Fresh
  • Clean and pat dry.  Bundle stems lightly, place on 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 out website for great hostas at an affordable price!


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