Homeschool Garden Club - Swiss Chard

This week’s harvest to come in from the Orchard Training Garden Club in to the kitchen and on to the table is Swiss chard.

Chard is a close relative of beets. It is often grown as a summer substitute for spinach because of its tolerance for warm temperatures. It also withstands cool temperatures and can be grown from early spring right up to the first autumn frost. It is also one of easiest crops to grow. The seeds are quite large so are easy to handle if you are a young Garden Club member. Rainbow chard comes in colourful colours of white, yellow, pink and red. Here is some really good news too - Swiss chard is a good source of calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, sodium, phosphorus and vitamin E. It also is great for vitamins A and K and nearly fulfils the Recommended Daily Intake for vitamin C.


The only problem is like many green vegetables, it has a bad press as a supper healthy vegetable and some children can put off eating it because it is healthy!


So, here is some science (biology) for our Garden Club this week. Did you know small children’s tastes buds are different from adult’s taste buds?


The mouth is one way in which infants and young children experience the world. If you have younger brothers and sisters tend to put lots of things in their mouths. This is the way small humans finding out things they like and don’t like. As your bodies develop, so do your taste buds. Science studies suggests that you are more sensitive to certain tastes than adults and one children tend not to like is the taste session known as ‘bitter’. However, this may be more cultural because taste appears to be subjective (subjective means a matter of choice) and it can be difficult to analyse. Scientist have found that children from around the world will love and eat or hate and reject the same foods. It is all down to what their parents have given them when they started to ween then. The sciences have also found that taste is very complex because it involves your eyes, your noise and your taste buds, and even previous experiences with similar foods.


Our taste buds introduce us to a particular flavour, but the experience of eating is a packaged deal. If we think we'll like a food, there's a much better chance that we actually will. If we grow our own food - we are more likely to try it and like it.

So, healthy bodies start with the Orchard Training Garden club, moves in to the kitchen with the Cooking Club and then into the Sports Club. All of that active movement when gardening and playing games out side and cooking and eating support by the healthy fruits and vegetable you grow - is a perfect triangle of support for a healthy life style.


Growing Swiss Chard


Swiss chard prefers rich, well-drained soil in full sun or light shade. Sow from early spring to midsummer for an autumn crop. Sow the seeds 5cm deep in rows spaced 45cm apart. Thin seedlings to 30cm apart when they are large enough to handle.

Swiss Chard Plant Insects & Diseases


Plants are rarely bothered by pests and diseases and grow easily making them a great choice for the Garden Club.


Swiss Chard Plant Harvesting Tips


As you look after the plants you will need to thin in between as the plants grow bigger. Use ‘thinnings’ as salad greens. When the plants get bigger harvest outer leaves as needed, when they are more than 15cm long. Cut the leaves about 3cm from the ground. Harvest continually to keep the plants productive.



Swiss Chard Recipes & Storage


Use like spinach, either cooked or raw. Use the leafstalks with the leaves, or cook the stalks separately like asparagus. See our Swiss Chard recipes in the Orchard Training Cooking Club for this week.


I have used this weeks 'thinnings' to make some Plan Ahead Lunchtime soups. During the later autumn, winter and early spring a hot lunch is very much welcome on our cold wet day. so I have portioned off the soup in to two lunchtime portion sizes and frozen them.





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