Friday, April 27, 2012

Chard By The Yard!

Our Chard By The Yard
The north side of our house doesn't get a lot of sunlight, but that has made it perfect for chards and lettuces. That's the theory anyway, but I was a little sceptical when our friends at Village Green suggested planting this last fall. Can you really grow a food crop over winter?
Yes. Yes you can!
The chard in the photo went into the ground as tiny seedlings late in the fall. During the winter I pretty much forgot about them and now they're ready to harvest for soups, or perhaps steamed with a little bacon.
This weekend I'll find out whether I'll have to re-plant, or whether they'll grow back from the roots, but either way, this has been a very successful experiment which I'll expand to include the balance of our north-side land.
Advantages of using chard to fill in out-of-the-way places:
  • No mowing!
  • Rainwater control. It promotes not the tightly-packed lawn that sheds water into our city wastewater system, but a more open soil that soaks up and uses our natural rainfall.
  • Looks good. The leaves and stem have a natural beauty that's not showing, but very pleasant.
  • Biodiversity. I don't know what critters and bugs run around among those leaves, but it's a change from the flatgrass so I'm confident there's a slightly different selection of life there. A diverse environment is healthier and better able to cope with stress!
  • Free food! OK, this is the real reason I planted the stuff: Each dollar's worth of seedlings generates something like $4 in greens in about 6 months. Where can you get an investment like that? I exclude the labor cost, because this is a recreational activity; why go to a gym when you can sweat in a garden? PLUS we know the food is organically grown, not laced with any poisons. It's also maximally convenient, basically storing itself in the garden until the day we use it!
I was inspired to write about this by this week's Change the World Wednesday Challenge:
"This week plant a vegetable or herb. And then, tell us what you decided to grow and where (your yard, a container, a pot on the window sill, etc.)"
Based on this experience, I can recommend filling in those out-of-the-way shady places by your house with crops like chard. I suspect they'll do nicely in pots too, since the roots are not deep. Best of all, you don't have to wait for the cold season! If you put tomatoes in your sunny area and chards/lettuces in your shady area, you can have a nice mix of veggies for very little effort!

1 comment:

Argentum Vulgaris said...

I have often heard references to chard, and despite being a chef, I have never known the vegetable. That is, until I saw the photo on your post...

It's silverbeet!

The main vegetable of my childhood. I had just never heard it called chard before.

Thanks for clearing up that mystery.