When it comes to easy to grow plants in the veggie patch, they don’t come much easier than silverbeet. For beginners, this is a must have.
A true cut and come again plant, silverbeet is as versatile in the garden as it is in the kitchen.
Also known as Swiss Chard or by many incorrectly, as spinach, silverbeet can be grown either from seed or from seedlings. Silverbeet is more popular than spinach here in Australia because it’s so much easier to grow in our hot climate, although that’s not really a problem here in Orange.
I tend to avoid seedlings for some plants because they’re more expensive than buying them from the supermarket, but silverbeet isn’t one of them. Cut silverbeet and it will reshoot and regrow until it runs to seed sometime in the early summer. When it does run to seed just cut it right back down near the crown. It will probably reshoot some more small leaves. You can plant it in pots, as an edible edge or in clumps in your non-veggie gardens.
Six silverbeet plants is usually more than enough for most families because during spring you’ll be grabbing a bagful every week. I use a serrated steak knife and cut from the outside, in.
The varieties marketed as Swiss Chard are simply a variety that has a different coloured stem. That’s marketing for you. There is no difference whatsoever in how you treat, or cook, them although apparently they have more nutrients packed in to what is already a powerhouse of goodness.
Silverbeet grows well in most soils but the more compost and liquid fertiliser you give it, the better. In fact because it’s a leafy green, a high nitrogen fertiliser is the preferred option.
You’ll get the occasional pest on your silverbeet and snails and slugs in particular love them, especially any seedlings that you might plant. If you’re that way inclined, sprinkle some snail and slug pellets around or do what I do and set a beer trap.