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A healthy and beautiful vegetable should find a place for itself in your beds
Chard forms lush greenery
Few vegetable plants can match the beauty of exotic chard. The peculiar beauty of its lush and bright leaves will not be overshadowed, probably, even by ornamental cabbage. Alas, this plant, which is very popular in the West, is still in the position of a "poor relative" in our country. At the same time, the beetroot with the loud name "chard" is rich in vitamins and very pleasant to the taste, and in terms of yield, chard is the leader among other green crops - one plant can produce more than 1 kilogram of selected petioles and leaves.
In addition, in some cases (in early spring, winter and late autumn) it is very convenient to replace the usual salad with its young leaves, while it has not yet grown or has already "departed". Beetroot uses both leaves and juicy, fleshy petioles, which are considered a delicacy in Europe. The leaves are added to salads, borscht, cabbage soup, soups, they replace cabbage in stuffed cabbage, and the petioles are boiled or fried with breadcrumbs (much like cauliflower) and used as a side dish. Chard is also added to a variety of vegetable stews. After a quick boil (within 2 minutes), the pieces of stems or leaves can be frozen for the winter (just like cauliflower).
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However, it is not only the extraordinary yield, unpretentiousness and good taste that attract the chard. This plant is also useful - it contains a lot of ascorbic acid, carotene, vitamins B1, B2, PP, protein, mineral salts (potassium, calcium, sodium, iron, phosphorus), biologically active substances. Therefore, beetroot is used in folk medicine as a vitamin and general tonic, as well as to lower blood pressure. Mangold has a diuretic, mild laxative, antiscorbutic and analgesic effect, and is also considered very useful in sclerosis. Chard juice mixed in half with honey is used for colds.
Moreover, chard is very beautiful and can decorate a garden-vegetable garden from spring to late autumn. The variety of colors and forms of leaves in various varieties of this culture is literally amazing. The petioles of the petiolate chard can be green, silvery, yellow, orange, dark red with a violet tint and red-crimson. In turn, the leaves of leafy varieties are wavy and curly in dark green, light green and purple-green tones.
Mangold is a real record holder for productivity among green crops. However, a large and high-quality crop can be obtained only with proper agricultural technology.
1. Mangold belongs to more cold-resistant crops than beets - its seeds begin to germinate already at a temperature of 4-5 ° C, but the most favorable conditions for plant growth are formed at a temperature of 18 … 20 ° C. Chard can even tolerate light frosts (down to –1… –2 ° C), but in this case, peduncles may appear, which is undesirable, since it reduces the yield of leaves and petioles.
2. Mangold is very picky about soil fertility and prefers to grow on neutral soils, in previous years well filled with organic fertilizers. He is very responsive to feeding, especially mullein solution. However, this should be done with caution, as Swiss chard is prone to nitrate accumulation. It is advisable to feed the plants after each active cutting of leaves and petioles, but it is better with complex mineral fertilizers and humus, and not with mullein or urea.
3. Theoretically, chard can grow in partial shade, but with a lack of light, its growth is somewhat delayed, and nitrates accumulate in the leaves. To avoid this, it is better (unless, of course, chard is planted as an ornamental crop) to plant it only in areas that are well-lit during the day.
4. Mangold belongs to very moisture-loving plants, but at the same time it does not tolerate waterlogged soils. In case of waterlogging, it can get sick with powdery mildew, and the lack of moisture dramatically reduces the yield.
Mangold - summer and winter
Mangold is primarily beneficial to use in those periods when it is more difficult to obtain other salad greens - in early spring, late autumn and winter, although no one bothers you to use beetroot throughout the summer.
How to harvest chard in early spring
Perhaps this is only through the seedling method of growing. Do not be alarmed, it is not at all as troublesome as growing cabbage seedlings, and even more so tomatoes, and at first very little space is required. In early April, you can safely start sowing the first batch of seeds. It is better to choose deep enough bowls as containers for planting, for example, large bowls from under the Rama margarine. Fill the bowls 2/3 with wet sawdust, evenly distribute the seeds (you can quite thickly, since you will then plant the seedlings), and then sprinkle with a thin layer of fertile soil. That's all - now you just need to water it in a timely manner, and when shoots appear, put the bowl on the windowsill or take it out on the glazed balcony for a day. Around April 20, you can prepare the next batch of seeds by soaking them in flat containers with sawdust.
At the end of April, the seedlings of the first sowing and germinated seeds of the second sowing should be planted in the greenhouse soil. It is not difficult to plant seedlings grown on sawdust soil, you just need to water the containers with seedlings well, and then remove and plant the seedlings, carefully separating them from one another. It is advisable to immediately mulch the soil between the plants with suitable material, for example, stale sawdust. Sprouted seeds are even easier - just scatter them around the greenhouse, trying to sow freely enough. The planted seeds must be sprinkled with soil, and then also mulched with wet sawdust. After that, all landings are covered with a covering material, on top of which it is better to install arcs, and then throw an additional layer of film or covering material on them. Covering chard is importantdespite its cold resistance, since the entry of plants under frost can lead to their early shooting.
Early spring sowing plants are harvested selectively, as needed, trying to adhere to the principle of thinning, and use them whole - as salad greens.
Summer and early autumn harvest
Some of the seedlings grown in a greenhouse should be planted in open ground, as well as beets, when the threat of severe frosts has passed (around the end of May), be sure to cover the plants with a covering material. Stocking density depends on the type of chard. In petiole varieties, plants are planted at a distance of about 40 cm from each other, and in leafy varieties - 25 cm; the aisles for both are usually done in the interval of 35-40 cm.
If the plants get frozen, they can bloom, which will negatively affect the harvest. It is better to avoid such situations and take timely care of the shelter. If this did not succeed, and the plants bloomed, then be sure to break the flower stalks.
Harvest in late autumn and winter
In the late autumn period, you can achieve an additional harvest in the greenhouse, of course, if there are mini-shelters inside it. To do this, you need to very carefully, with a large clod of earth, drag some of the plants into the greenhouse, plant, water and cover well. Then, before the ground freezes, a harvest of fresh leaves will be provided to you.
If there is a desire to have fresh greens of chard in winter, then it is also easy to organize, the area would allow. Of course, you should not count on petioles, but the harvest of leaves for salads can be good. To do this, in the fall, before frost (about late September - early October), dig up the chard plant along with a lump of earth, transplant it into a large pot or even a bucket (if we are talking about petiolate chard) and send it to the windowsill.
It should only be borne in mind that one plant will not provide you with a harvest for the whole winter, since its growing season is limited. Therefore, it is safer to carefully dig up a few plants, remove wilted leaves on them, put the plants in boxes and transfer them to the cellar. In winter, after it becomes obvious that the strength of your next pet on the windowsill is running out, you can get the next applicant out of the cellar, drop it into a suitable container and expose it to the light.
The planted chard plants do not require any special care in winter. It is only important to provide enough light and timely watering. True, you should be careful with watering, since overmoistening plants in pots can easily rot.
Especially about nitrates
As with all leafy vegetables, nitrates can build up in Swiss chard. Moreover, Swiss chard belongs to such crops, which can accumulate nitrates in significant quantities with improper agricultural technology.
At the same time, adherence to the following agrotechnical rules will allow you to grow a really healthy and tasty vegetable:
- it is necessary not to thicken the planting - each chard plant should be well illuminated by the sun throughout the day;
- to limit the amount of nitrogen fertilizers applied - for the intensive development of plants, it is better to prepare the fertile soil well before planting them than to try to stimulate the weakened chard with urea later.
Officially, it is believed that leaf chard is ready for harvesting two months after sowing, and petiolate - three months later. However, plants at any stage of development can be used for salad. As for the petioles, they begin to break out when the plant forms a sufficiently large rosette of leaves. Breaking out leaves from adult plants, you should adhere to a number of rules:
1. The more often the leaves are cut, the more abundant they grow.
2. It is necessary to cut the leaves together with the petioles along the outer edge of the rosette, without leaving the columns, otherwise the remaining part of the petioles will start to rot.
3. From leafy chard, the leaves should be harvested while they are young, since the taste of old (overgrown) leaves is noticeably impaired. From petioled chard, you need to collect the outer leaves with petioles, without waiting for them to outgrow - for this you just need to bend them out. At the same time, only petioles are usually used for food in petioled varieties, although their young leaves also taste good.
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Young leafy chard leaves are used as salad greens - they can be added to any salad instead of regular salad and spinach. There are no tricks with their preparation - just wash and cut.
Stalked chard is more difficult. Theoretically, he can use not only petioles, but also young leaves. So the leaves and petioles require different culinary processing. The leaves are most often stewed, and the petioles are pre-boiled in salted water. The water is brought to a boil, and then the stalks, cut into pieces, are lowered and boiled for 15-20 minutes. Then they throw the petioles into a colander and let the water drain, sometimes they dry it slightly. In addition, overgrown chard stalks can be harsh because they contain coarse fibers. Therefore, it is better to cut off the coarse parts of the petioles or remove the fibers and skin from these parts before cooking.
Swiss chard salad
500 g petioles, 1-2 tomatoes, 1 bell pepper pod, 2 tbsp. tablespoons of mayonnaise, parsley and dill, salt to taste.
Cut the chard stalks into slices and boil in salted water until tender. Then discard in a colander and cool. Add tomato slices, small pieces of sweet pepper and season with mayonnaise. Sprinkle the salad with finely chopped parsley and dill. Add salt if necessary.
Cut the petioles and boil in salted water, and then fry in butter. Sprinkle with grated breadcrumbs before serving.
Chard with creamy crumb
500 g petioles, 1 onion, 4 tbsp. l. butter, 5 tbsp. bread crumbs.
Separate the chard leaves from the stalks. Boil the petioles in the usual way and dry well. Dice the onion. Coarsely chop the chard greens to make about two handfuls. Melt 1 tbsp. butter and fry the onion cubes in it until transparent. Add chard greens and simmer, covered, for about 5 minutes. Dissolve the remaining butter and fry the breadcrumbs in it until golden brown. Mix the dried chard with stewed herbs and fried bread crumbs (creamy crumbs).
Risotto with Swiss chard and cheese (Italian dish)
300 g of chard, 400 g of rice, 1 l of meat broth, 2 tbsp. butter, 2 tbsp. vegetable oil, a handful of grated cheese, 1 clove of garlic, a handful of green onions, green parsley, ground pepper and salt to taste.
Chop the chard and green onions, blanch and discard in a colander. Then make mashed potatoes from blanched greens, adding chopped parsley to it. Chop the garlic and simmer in vegetable oil. Add rice to the garlic and simmer for 3 minutes. Then pour in the broth and let it soak, keeping the rice on low heat under the lid for 20 minutes. Then stir the rice with butter, cheese and herb puree.