October 5, 2008

Come see what's still happening at the farm

Last October, I showed you pictures of lovely autumn-blooming crocus called colchicum that were in their first season at the farm. Well, I am so happy that the plants are flourishing and have multiplied in numbers since last fall, adding that springlike color to the garden beds. Also, in the vegetable garden, I'm still enjoying the hardier selections, and I simply adore Swiss chard. Right now, the chard is extremely vibrant and so wonderful to eat. Please have a look at these photos.

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The colchicum look so beautiful planted alongside my variegated hosta.

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The autumn vegetable patch is waning, but the chard is still going strong.

Swiss chard, often just called chard, is a member of the beet family. However, rather than producing a bulbous root as beets do, Swiss chard sends up large leaves and fleshy stalks, both of which are edible and delicious. And what you get with chard is actually two vegetables in one, because the two parts can be cooked separately, each in numerous ways. The leaves taste like strong spinach, and can be prepared like any other hearty green. The celerylike stalks have a mild flavor and a slight crunch, and can be steamed, sauteed, or added to stir-fries. Of course, you can enjoy the healthy goodness of both by cooking them together. Swiss chard is loaded with vitamins A and C, and it's a very good source of calcium and potassium.

Chard is also a hardy and attractive plant in the vegetable garden. The seeds can be sown directly into the soil, and the plants continue producing new stalks right through the summer, into autumn. You can grow green chard or ruby chard, which has deep red stalks. There's even a multicolored chard with stems of gold, pink, orange, purple, red, and white. Oh, and how about that name? How the Swiss got involved is somewhat of a mystery, because Swiss chard is native to the Mediterranean.

Here is a good recipe from Everyday Food for Sauteed Swiss Chard.

Source for chard: Johnny's Selected Seeds