Friday, February 13, 2009

The Chard Challenge - Calling all Gardeners!

Are you tired of the cold, the wind, the overcast gloomy days and ready to welcome spring (the last few teaser days were a delight) here is your chance to chase the winter blues and start thinking green.

The latest bit of change that the local food and environment groups are asking the incoming(already in) Obama folks to dig up the South Lawn of the White House and turn into a vegetable garden(I am not sure if they are asking for a garden czar and keeping up with the nominee qualification have tax problems :) . I bet this requires a political will like everything else the President is expected to do. But we do not have to wait for the White House to show us the way. Here is your chance to show off your gardening skills if you are an expert gardener, learn a few skills if you are a novice willing to get your hands dirty and if you are some where in between now is a perfect time to sharpen your gardening skills and maybe learn a few new tricks.

Is It really a challenge?
Not exactly! There won't be any prizes for growing the biggest Swiss Chard Leaf or maybe there will be. All you need to do is grow some greens in your backyard, patio or even indoors and of course show off.

Pink, yellow and white stemmed swiss chard and beet greens

Why Swiss Chard?
Ever since I picked up that first bunch of Swiss Chard some 3 years ago I have been in love with it. I started growing them 2 summers ago and they have been the most profilic and highly satisfying green to grow. Chard are well suited to growing in pots, 2 pots supplied us with greens from late spring to early fall almost every week so not having a backyard should not be a reason not to grow them. It is one of most easiest greens to grow with a kind of live let live attitude. It can grow in direct light or shade, a few frosts or a slight cold weather is not going to damage it much. Water regularly, trim of the grown leaves regularly and new growth happens till the plant dies of completely. As far as I have seen very few pests other than the occsional slug coming to eat the dead or rotten leaves and make its way up to the fresh leaves.

If swiss chard is not your favorite green, grow a green that you are most fond of. If chard is not found in your neck of the woods, you are welcome to grow a green that grows in your area best.

What is Swiss Chard?
Swiss Chard belongs to the beet family but unlike beets that are grown for the edible root these are predominantly grown for the leaves. Chard have stalks of different colors, purple, green, yellow to name a few. The leaves are peppery tasting and don't taste good when eaten raw. They taste great in stir fries, in sambhar - it is my favorite right next to drumstick sambhar, kootu, parathas.
More info in this article on NPR - Letting Leafy Greens into Your Life

Rules for the Challenge
Just like everybody else I hate rules. So there are no rules really. Just let your green thumb run wild. Post your gardening stories, tricks, ideas and if you are generous share your secrets as well.

1. Send the URL of your post to indosungod[AT][GMAIL][DOT][COM] with the subject "Chard Challenge"
2. If you have pictures, I'll just link to the picture on the roundup post. (If this is not OK please mention in the email.
3. A link to this post would be nice
4. The challenge runs all through Spring and Summer and will stop when Fall hits.
5. If blogging is not your thing but would like to share your story you are welcome to send your entries. They will be posted on this blog as a post and will be included in the roundup.

Roundups will be done every month from May through October. So if you are game for more than one entry you are welcome.


  1. Am I game for Swiss chards? :D

    I LOVE them. In fact, they are already coming out of the ground themselves since it's so warm here now. I will send you for sure, I get whole bunches of them, all colors! :))

    They used to have a Summer garden event, nobody is doing now, would be nice to look at all the veg gardens.

  2. I think i will give it a miss, i dodn't have green fingers, only plant which survive with me is cactus as i dodn'thave to water them often or look to them.

  3. Indo!!! This time, I'm game! :)

    While this 23rd floor apartment has absolutely GORGEOUS view, there's no balcony! We are moving into another apartment by March end and yes, it has a balcony and yes, I'm growing swiss chard..

    Your link has give me the instructions. :) thanks! I was just typing of you could handhold us newbies, but the link that you posted has all the details. Swiss chard is a "cut and come again" plant!! Who knew!! :) Any other "cut and come again" plants that you know off?

  4. DUnno whether its possible for me r not..sure am gonna miss this:(

  5. Indo, The broccoli quesadillas are a huge hit with M! :) She's been eating them like they are going out of business.

    Thank you!!!

  6. I WANT TO GROW something!! my rabbits in the backyard eat everything i grow. i have to fence an area this year & I'll try to pitch in.

  7. Not sure where my original comment went, but here goes again! It is indeed almost spring planting-time and I can't wait! This is a fantastic idea, ISG :)

    I have been gazing at garden seeds and plants online all weekened, pushing winter out the door in my mind ;)

  8. Have you already started growing greens ? Count me in, hopefully if the nanny is still there I will get time to sprinkle seeds around

  9. Not yet Sandeepa. Also growing greens in pots is good if you have deer or rabbits visiting your yard. Put the pot on the deck and you are good for the summer.

  10. Hi Indo, growing in pots is what I'd recommend for Swiss Chard. I LOVE them and tried grwoing them last summer - but my plants were so heavily attacks by slugs that I did not eat any of it! Maybe I'll try planing in pots this year.

  11. SJ, you are absolutely right, slugs are only ones that attack the chard plants. The slugs love decomposing material, so it is very important to remove the old and decaying leaves from the plants to keep the slugs away.

    Very good point though. Thanks.

  12. Indo,
    have planted some chard seeds..will see how it goes...goodluck to me :)

  13. Ofcourse, Good Luck to you. I just harvested my first batch of swiss chard yesterday. Fresh and oh so tasty.

  14. I planted the pohi outside & the red spinach too.. have to find out what it's called.. but nothing survived, till a few weeks back I cut the bottom of pots & put them around the growing plants. Can u imagine. the only thing they are (bunnies) not eating is the mint. I have to get a bigger fence... sigh.. what will i send? i was so looking forward to a luscious green backyard. i have the pohi growing inside which i already posted.


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