Thursday, July 23, 2009

the almightly chard

Easy to grow chard looks as good
as it tastes.
And now a little plug for Swiss chard. I'm a little biased because it is one of my very favorite vegetables. It is so much more flavorful than spinach, has a little more body than spinach (keeps its nice texture when cooked), is incredibly versatile in the kitchen (just Google "chard recipes" and you'll see), and if that weren't enough, it looks great in the landscape with its dark glossy leaves and colorful stems. And what's more, you can cut outer leaves all summer long to sautee, steam, stir fry, or bake into delicious tarts, frittatas or lasagnas. The plants will continue to grow and look fabulous all season. Be sure to add this attractive, delicious, nutritious and easy-to-grow variety to your garden next season. Better yet, you could still get it in the ground this year for a late-season crop.
Swiss chard and many other leafy greens are tolerant of cold temperatures. Find an open spot in the garden and sow some seeds. You'll have harvestable leaves in as little as 40 days. Yum! Be sure to rinse it well before cooking as the dimpled leaves really seem to hang onto dust and soil particles. None of us like to eat gritty greens! Here are links to a couple of my favorite recipes for chard from epicurious.com and the Food Network.
Swiss chard tart. Image borrowed from ThisTinyHouse.com.
The University of Minnesota Extension Service has some great resources on their website for growing all kinds of vegetables.

Red and orange stemmed chard add a ton of color to the garden!

bees love borage

One of the many bees dangling from
the borage flowers.
The edible landscape is going strong! Harvests this week include zucchini, yellow summer squash, more and more chard, lettuces, carrots, and a few pole beans. The tomatoes are getting close! The various flowers around the garden are keeping the bees and other pollinators coming. The borage has been especially attractive to bumblebees, honeybees, and various native bees and other pollinators. Stop by the garden to see them in action. It is quite amazing. Just look at the number of bees in these photos!

Borage grows to about 2-4 feet in height. Planted in masses it creates a dense clump of fuzzy foliage topped with dusky blue nodding flowers. The flowers and leaves are edible. Find out more about edible flowers in this U of M Yard and Garden Brief. Borage is also known to repel squash bugs, so it is planted near the zucchini, summer squash, winter squash and melons in the edible landscape.

In other Edible Landscape news, the cucumbers (which were transplanted in the broccoli raab's location after it was finished) are starting to fruit.


This mass of borage is simply buzzing with activity.




Tuesday, July 21, 2009

a little break

As you may have noticed, the Edible Landscape blog has been quiet for the past week. I've been in Eastern Idaho doing a little....research on native plants of the Inter-mountain West. Ok, truthfully I was on vacation, but did see a lot of amazing specimens. The hillsides and woods were covered with brilliant colors. So let's take a little break from the Edible Landscape and take a look at a few western wildflowers.
Now that I'm back in Minnesota, the Edible Landscape blog will pick up again. I haven't seen the garden since I've gotten back, but I'm sure a lot has changed in the last week, and there will be a lot to write about and a lot to show you. The Edible Landscape was featured in the U of M Extension Service Mid-July Yard & Garden Newsletter. Check it out. While you're doing that, I'll be thinking about all the 'research' I was doing last week.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

harvest update

After a big harvest this morning, the total yield of chard so far this season is over 33 pounds!

Monday, July 6, 2009

garden of plenty

The harvests from the Edible Landscape are increasing and becoming more diverse. We've been picking lettuces and other salad greens for over a month and they just keep growing! The two varieties of kale have been harvested at least once a week since mid-June. And the chard is growing so quickly it's hard to keep up. Yesterday I harvested the first young, tender zucchini and pulled the first carrots. Summer squash is not far off, peppers are beginning to peek out from under their glossy leaves, the eggplant are blooming, the beans are climbing and the tomato plants are in full flower with a few green tomatoes here and there. Here's a look at some of the numbers so far.

Salad mix (incl. Red Oak and Emerald Oak Leaf lettuce, Little Gem lettuce, Arugula and Mizuna and Osaka Purple mustards) : over 29 pounds.
Dinosaur Kale: 4 pounds
True Siberian Kale: 12 pounds
Broccoli Raab: 6 pounds
Chard: 12 pounds
Zucchini: 1 pound
Carrots: 2 pounds

Along with various herbs the total harvest from the Edible Landscape since June 3 is just about 75 pounds. Part of my interest in this project is to demonstrate just how much food can be produced in a relatively small space. Granted, the Edible Landscape beds add up to about 1500 square feet, but much of that is covered with beneficial flowers. I am working on calculating the square footage of each crop, which will then help to show just how much you can get from a square foot of good soil. Stay tuned.