Which variety of swiss chard to grow

bagardens (Ohio, Zone 5b)January 23, 2010

I was trying to decide what kind of swiss chard I wanted to grow next year. What do you think, should I just get seeds of mixes like Bright Lights or Silverbeet? Or would I be better off to grow individual varieties? Are there some types that you tried that you liked better than the ones in the mixes? I was thinking about getting a mix and then also trying a couple individual kinds. What kinds of swiss chard have you grown that you liked?

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

It all depends on if you prefer red ribs, white ribs, or multi-colored ribs - the preparation of and the taste is the same regardless.

We don't plant the reds simply because the red streaks aren't appealing on the plate so we prefer the classic whites. But we have grown Bright Lights or Rainbow because of the appearance in the garden.


    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 12:22AM
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i like Bright Lights and last year i tried 'Neon Glow', a really pretty mix of magenta and golden yellow chards from Rene's Garden. Mixes are best for me because it is just too hard to select only one from all the beautiful colors available!

i just ordered Argentata Chard to try this year. It is a white ribbed variety but supposed to have very good flavor so i will overlook that.

Here is a link that might be useful: Argentata chard

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 2:09AM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Without a doubt the most delicious, tender, cold and heat resistant chard is Erbette. And also the hardest to find. Erbetter has no rib, just thin tough stalks you cut out. But the leaf is wonderful. Until this year it was available from Underwood Gardens; they don't have it this year but plan to next year. I was able to get a package from Bountiful Gardens, though the spacing info is very wrong. Give Erbette at least 24 inches spacing.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 6:43AM
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Havn't tried erbette, sounds interesting. The best eating chard I have grown, by far, is Lucullus. Cooks like spinach, even in summer heat. Incomparably better than the colored chards, but not at all showy.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 8:03AM
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whgille(FL 9b)

I like them all!


    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 8:20AM
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I've only ever grown Silverbeet Rainbow and Fordhook Giant. The rainbow is pretty, but the giant grew better in my garden. I couldn't believe how big the leaves were! They seemed to be a bit more resistant to leaf miners too. At first I worried they wouldn't taste as good since they were so big, but, I thought they were extremely tender and delicious.

I kept my hand in the left of this pic of one giant plant for size comparison:

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 10:35AM
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I like the Fordhook it seems to grow faster than most in my garden. I like to harvest the plants when young, usually when under a foot tall. I really like the stalks raw with peanut butter. and the leaves steamed. I also will plant some bright lights again this spring. They grow slower but I love the look,and the taste is fine in my book. Ya I'm a real chard lover!

Curt :-)

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 11:04AM
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I planted Lucillus, Ruby, and Bright Lights. Lucillus, a light green chard, self seeds itself every year like a weed and was the most vigorous, while the others, especially Bright Lights, grew really slow. They all turn the same color when you cook them.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 11:33AM
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I like Fordhook Giant. I also like red and yellow varieties for appearance in the garden and on the plate.

You might also consider a chard relative called Perpetual Spinach / Leaf Beet (link below to Fedco's description).

It is related to chard, but looks like a cross between chard and spinach. Smaller leaves than regular chard, thin stems like spinach stems or beet leaf stems. I tried it first last summer and loved it. Productive and delicious.

Here is a link that might be useful: Perpetual Spinach / Leaf Beet

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 2:02PM
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bagardens (Ohio, Zone 5b)

Thanks everyone for your responses. Fordhook Giant was one that I was considering growing, I am so happy to hear that you believe the leaf minors do not bother it as much. My guess is that the fact that Foodhook Giant grows fast probably helps against the leaf minors. Last year I had big problems with leaf minors. Wiped out all my beets and swiss chard. I have never had a problem with leaf minors destroying my beets before, always got almost perfect leaves. Last year was the first time I tried growing swiss chard (Bright Lights), and they did not even have a chance because of the leaf minors. I am hoping to get a hoop house up in the spring that I can grow my greens in to protect them from leaf minors and flea beetles (which I have always had problems with).

I think I may have been planing on ordering the Perpetual Spinach / Leaf Beet, not sure though. I know I did read about that somewhere.

I am going to have to do some research on all the other varieties everyone mentioned, they all sound very interesting. Thanks again everyone, now I am off to look up all the different types mentioned.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 4:16PM
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Lucullus self-seeds here too. I don't buy chard seed anymore, or kale.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 5:30PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

I'm in agreement with those who suggest that the green chards give the best results. Tried a few of the colored chards, they were far less vigorous.

Grew Lucullus for a lot of years, very productive; but I didn't like the deeply indented leaves, too many places for bugs to hide (the red-stalked variety I tried had the same problem). I eventually replaced it with Large White Ribbed (from D.B. Burell), which has very wide stalks, and nearly flat leaves... much easier to clean.

Erbette does sound interesting, may have to give it a try.

I wish my chard would self seed. It would need to winter over, though, and my winters are too cold for that.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 7:00PM
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bagardens (Ohio, Zone 5b)

Love all the beautiful pics everyone. I hope I can get some chard just as beautiful this year.

I like the idea of eating the stalks with peanut butter sounds interesting. Will definitely have to try that.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 9:32PM
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Erbette is also offered by 'The Cooks Garden' this year. i think it might be a Burpee subsidiary?

Here is a link that might be useful: Erbette

    Bookmark   January 25, 2010 at 2:57AM
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I noticed last year that the chard seeds that had lain on the ground all winter, and which of course sprouted rather earlier than I would have planted them, had a high percentage of bolting. By late fall those plants had mature seed, and so were effectively annual. So I think it's possible to produce seed without overwintering plants.

This year I failed to harvest seed so I'll have to rely entirely on the self-sown bolters. Maybe I'll go scratch around in the garden today while the ground is unfrozen if I can find some and bring it inside.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2010 at 6:45AM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Pnbrown, I noticed the same thing this year. One seed survived from last year, and sprouted early Spring. It bolted quickly also... but turned out to be a male, so no seeds. Probably would have made no difference anyway, without a second plant for pollination.

Wonder if I still have time to try winter sowing??? It would take several plants to be guarantee both male & female populations, plus I would like to select for the best leaves. It would be fantastic if that system worked, I'd be one step closer to seed independence.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2010 at 12:42AM
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franeli(z4 NH)

I grow 'Bionda di Lyon' from Johnny's.
It is a very tender leaved chard with a mild flavor.
Freezes well.

Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.johnnyseeds.com/p-7259-bionda-di-lyon.aspx

    Bookmark   January 26, 2010 at 7:28AM
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Z, why not try winter-sowing half a packet now? If they sprout so early as to be in high danger of being frost-killed you can always put some light protection on them, just enough to keep from freezing. They'll probably still get enough chilling for some to think it's summer number two when the weather warms.

I didn't know chard was gendered.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2010 at 7:38AM
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