Swiss chard freshly harvested
image by ŭn-sŭng/flickr.com (http://www.flickr.com/photos/casers/164025744/)
Swiss chard is a popular leafy vegetable grown in many home gardens. The Swiss chard leaves are the same leaves that grow on beet roots, without the development of the roots under the soil. Plant Swiss chard early in the spring to enjoy a harvest approximately 2 months later. With careful harvesting techniques, Swiss chard plants will continue to grow and produce throughout the summer and into the autumn.
Keep Swiss chard adequately watered throughout the growing season. Provide at least 1 inch of water every week if rain does not fall. For best results, water once per week deeply instead of watering more often.
Fertilize the Swiss chard plants once a month by side dressing the plants with the fertilizer. To side dress, add one or two handfuls of fertilizer along the outer borders of the plants and work the fertilizer into the soil with a small garden fork. Take care not to disturb the plants as you work the fertilizer in.
Harvest the Swiss chard when the leaves are between 8 and 12 inches long. Trim off the outer leaves and leave the inner leaves to continue growing. Cut the outer leaves off approximately 2 inches above the soil level. Watch the plants and harvest the new outer leaves when they reach the described size. Be careful not to damage the center of the plant when harvesting outer leaves.
Place Swiss chard into plastic bags without prewashing. Store the plastic bags in the refrigerator for approximately 3 days. Freeze Swiss chard by blanching for 2 minutes, placing into ice water for 1 minute and then freezing in plastic bags. Frozen Swiss chard will keep for approximately 9 months.