This vegetable is also known as Swiss chard, silver beet and leaf beet. The leaves are thick and broad and the leaf stalks large and fleshy. (Figure 81.) It is one of our best potherbs, although not appreciated nor well known among American gardeners. The leaf blades are prepared for the table like spinach, while the stalks and midribs are cooked and served as asparagus, being especially palatable when eaten on toast.
Chard is of easy culture. The plants may be started under glass in February, transplanted in flats before being set in the open ground. They are hardy and when properly grown will stand severe freezing. While they may be started under glass to advantage, the usual plan is to sow in the field when common garden beets are planted. The rows should be not less than 18 inches apart. Twelve to 15 seeds to each foot of drill should give a good stand. When about 6 inches high, thin to 3 inches and later to 8 or 12 inches in strong soils. The thinnings (both leaves and leaf stalks) may be used as greens.
Lucullus is the most popular variety. The plants grow very rapidly and several pickings may be made during the season, the central bud and leaves being preserved for additional growth. With heavy mulching the plants will winter without injury in some parts of the North. They may be readily protected in cold frames, and forced early in the spring. Nitrate of soda is especially valuable for this vegetable.