cfef0-june15th2012swisschardpansymarigoldbed030Grow your food with your flowers

In the city, we don’t have a lot of space to work with so what better approach then to mix leafy edibles in containers or garden beds around our homes.If you want to start growing more organic vegetables in the city, you need to look at your lot as a large cottage garden. A cottage or potager garden is an excellent approach to growing more vegetables on smaller city lots. An English Cottage Style or French Potager is nothing more than the concept of mixing attractive looking vegetables, herbs and flowers together.

Containers are perfect for mixed herbs, flowers and veggies

If you lack space around your home in the city, you can mix some vegetables in your containers with your spring flowers or herbs.I have a lot of problems in early spring with local rabbits, chipmunks, birds, woodchucks or raccoons wanting to nibble on my young seedlings. There is not much green out in the garden in March; which means when I start putting my spring plants out in containers or garden beds they are nibbled to the ground in a hurry. I have found containers helpful at this time of year.

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Chard is related to beets

One of my favorite vegetables to grow on a small lot mixed in vegetable beds or containers is Chard (Beta vulgaris).Chard is the same subspecies as garden beets which are the vegetables you might know as beetroot.Common names for chard are Swiss Chard, silverbeet, spinach beet, crab beet, or perpetual spinach to name a few.

Chard is attractive and edible

Chard is a beautiful leafy green vegetable that comes in a variety of colors. All chards have a midrib that runs through the center of each leaf. These midribs have different colors ranging from the white, red, orange, or golden. There are some that have mixed colors and people are creating new Chards ever year. I must confess, my favorites are the golden or red midribs. I have to admit my favorites are the reds or golden types.

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A variety of Chards to pick from

If you grow Chard, you will find that removing the midribs helps with bitter tasting greens, but if you harvest the first leaves, they are often very tender. There are some that have been developed for smaller midribs which are compared to spinach and are known as perpetual spinach.I am growing an Italian heirloom one known as Erbette, for the first time this year. People say it tastes like spinach. I’ve tasted some of the seedling leaves, and they are very tender and similar to spinach. I am curious how it performs in our garden this summer.

Chard is great mixed salad green

If you purchase mixed salad greens from the local grocery store, you will find young Chard leaves mixed with lettuce. If you use the smaller Italian Heirloom Erbette, it tastes similar to spinach. I use Chard a crustless quiche. I have found people that don’t care for chard as a leafy green enjoy it in a quiche

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 Chard is versatile

In mid-January, I usually start my Chard under lights. I start hardening them off or acclimating them to the outdoors around late March or early April. Chard is one of several spring veggie plants that I love to mix with spring flowers for they provide leafy greens for our spring salads and also contrast in our spring mixed containers or garden beds.Chard tolerates the heat and cold which means you can eat it from spring to winter. If you provide the protection, it will survive freezes and in some places will provide cut greens throughout the winter.

Written by Robbie

M.S. Education, , Organic Gardener, soil + nature lover, former modern dancer