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Harvesting Swiss chard is easy and can be done for a long time, because with technology, the leafy vegetables keep growing back. But when is the best time to harvest the plant, which is rich in vital substances? We reveal what is important when harvesting the different varieties and how the vegetables can be served fresh and tasty for months.

Swiss chard varieties

leaf chard

With leaf chard, it takes just eight to ten weeks from sowing to harvest. Anyone who has sown in April can therefore already expect the first yields in June. As long as the heart of the leaf chard is not injured, it will continuously sprout again. The harvest time is therefore not limited.

To harvest the leafy vegetables, the leaves are broken off individually about two to three fingers above the ground or cut off with a knife or scissors. It is harvested from the outside in.

Swiss chard has a slightly bitter taste

stem chard

The stem chard, also known as ribbed chard, can also be sown from April. However, it takes ten to twelve weeks before it is ready for harvest. With this chard, the first yields can be expected from the end of June or the beginning of July if it is sown in good time.

The leaves are also broken off or cut off again. However, the distance to the root may be even smaller than with leaf chard. It is ideal to cut the leaves as close to the ground as possible. Care must be taken not to damage the heart of the plant. If the leaves are removed individually and from the outside inwards, this is comparatively easy.

To harvest

Harvest young leaves

Irrespective of whether it is leaf or ribbed chard - young, tender leaves are always milder in taste and contain less bitter substances. The cooking of leafy vegetables can also be kept shorter and gentler here. Leaves about four inches long are ideal. Incidentally, this length also indicates the harvest maturity of the vegetables.

Always harvest as needed

Wrapped in a damp cloth, chard will keep in the fridge for about two days. However, the more time there is between the harvest and the preparation of the leafy vegetables, the more the vital substance content of the Swiss chard decreases. In addition, the taste changes.

It is therefore optimal to harvest Swiss chard as needed and only cut off what can be used immediately. However, when the harvest season comes to an end in autumn or winter, the leaves can also be blanched and frozen. In this way, even particularly large yields can be preserved and used for a longer period of time.

Swiss chard in the vegetable patch

harvest time

Harvest time until frost

Since Swiss chard grows back as long as the heart has not been injured, it can be served as a fresh vegetable over and over again for months. Only with the onset of frost does growth come to a standstill.

If you want to add fresh chard leaves to your menu next year, you have to protect the plants accordingly.

Suitable for this are:

  • fleece
  • jute
  • leaves
  • straw
  • Twigs, ideal is spruce twigs
  • bast mats

It is optimal - especially in harsh winters or cool climates - to combine the different materials with each other. For example, pile up leaves and brushwood on the rootstock and then spread one or more layers of fleece, jute or bast mats over them.

Swiss chard belongs on the menu

Harvest in the second year

If chard is protected accordingly in winter, it is a biennial. The harvest time can therefore extend over another season. However, the chard plants form flowers in the second year. With the onset of flowering, the leaves become very bitter.

They can still be eaten because, unlike other plants, they do not become poisonous. However, the taste during and after flowering is perceived by many as unpleasant. It is therefore advisable, as before the onset of frost, to harvest the remaining leaves before the flowering phase and use them immediately or freeze them blanched.

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