November 6, 2011

Detroit Beets and Swiss Chard

Left: the lovely beets trimmed in crimson. Right: the courageous Swiss Chard.
A carpet of Swiss chard seedlings.
The Detroit beets and Swiss chard were broadcast seeded about four weeks ago and they are just starting to get their true leaves. It seems like it took forever for the seeds to sprout, about 2 weeks for both the beets and the Swiss chard, and it seems to be taking forever for the plants to grow.

Broadcast seeding is an easy way to plant seeds that are small and can taking a little crowding. I just sprinkle the seeds over a patch of loose soil and then rake the soil lightly with the tines going less than an inch deep and making short strokes in a crossing X pattern that goes in opposite directions. Just try to get a somewhat even coverage over the whole bed. This technique seems to work well and usually there's just a few seeds that are left uncovered which I push into the soil.

Beets have a larger seed that is actually made up of a group of 3-5 seeds. I plant the beet seeds further apart then the recommended 2-3 inches by just putting down less seed when broadcasting so I don't have to thin the seedlings. Beets have an earthy warm flavor that is lovely in soups and wonderful as a pickle.

Swiss chard is a leafy green vegetable whose growing pattern is similar to bok choy with thick succulent stems and nice large green leaves, although Swiss chard has thinner stems and can withstand hot weather. Hopefully the plants will over winter without any protection.

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