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Try colorful Swiss chard for a healthy, colorful treat

Colorful chard for health and flavor
Colorful chard for health and flavor

Planning the spring garden from a health perspective is a great idea. Most gardeners who have tasted Swiss chard grow it as a matter of course, because it is so remarkably tasty. They also know about the health benefits which chard provides, and these are many.

Swiss chard is in fact a powerhouse of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. The latter abound in anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and detoxifying compounds. It is a true super food.

Now, the canny home gardener can still enjoy the flavor of traditional chard while actually boosting the nutritive value therein, especially as regards phytonutrients, by selecting cultivars even more dense in these benevolent substances.

Color, as we are beginning to learn, equals higher phytonutrient value, hence the popularity of blueberries, cranberries, red beets and red beet kale. Ordinary white stalked, average green leafed chard is good for us, there is no doubt. But deep dark green leafed, even red leafed chard is even better for us, and is just as tasty. Notice the deeply colored veins in the leaves. These are certain signs of added phytonutrients.

Golden Swiss chard and magenta Swiss chard are the most intensely colorful, or go for every color there is with a package of “Bright Lights” or “Rainbow” chard seed. These are widely available at most seed supply sites or in supplier’s catalogs.

Chard is easy to grow. Dig copious amounts of compost and just a pinch of general purpose fertilizer into soil that receives full sun.

Plant on or just prior to the last frost date in rows no closer than 12” apart, a bit more if you have the room. One half inch deep is optimal. Water, weed, and in 50 to 60 days you will have Swiss chard. Thin the plants to four inches apart.

Don’t forget to take just a few leaves from each plant, and the plants will continue to produce until the first frost.

Add color to your garden and health to your diet with multicolored chard this gardening season.

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