Silverbeet, a leaf & stem vegetable

Planting silverbeet

Silverbeet or chard is a leaf green also grown for its stalks.

Summary of silverbeet facts

Name – Beta vulgaris
Family – Chenopodiaceae
Type – biennial, vegetable

Height – 12 to 20 inches (30 to 50 cm)
Exposure – full sun, part sun

Soil: rather rich and acidic      –     Sowing: spring     –      Harvest: summer-fall

This biennial is much appreciated for all its parts, leaf and stalk.

Sowing and planting silverbeet

Silverbeet is a vegetable that can be sown in spring or planted to the ground a bit later if you’ve purchased it in nursery pots.

Sowing silverbeet

If you would rather try to sow, either sow in April or May in a nursery for cold-weathered climates or direct sowing for warmer regions.

  • Sowing silverbeetTake care that it doesn’t freeze anymore, or protect them with a plastic tunnel greenhouse if there is any risk.
  • Broadcast seeds and rake to bury them more or less 1 inch (2 cm) deep.
  • For nursery-sown seedlings, transplant to their growing bed as soon as 4 or 5 leaves have formed, spacing plants 12 to 16 inches (30 to 40 cm) apart on all sides.
  • For seedlings sown directly in the plot, thin to 12 to 16 inches (30 to 40 cm) as soon as the first leaves appear.

Planting silverbeet

Planting silverbeetIf purchased in nursery pots, silverbeet can be planted all spring long, spacing them 12 to 16 inches (30 to 40 cm) apart on all sides.

  • For instance, you can plant each plant every 12 inches (30 cm) along a row, and plant the rows 16 inches (40 cm) apart.
  • Water regularly after planting to ensure that the substrate remains constantly slightly moist.

Silverbeet in a pot

Silverbeet in potGrowing silverbeet is possible in pots. It helps to have rich soil and excellent drainage.

It’s very important to water regularly, even more so than in the ground. Indeed, potted soil tends to dry out much faster.

Water morning and evening, without wetting leaves.

Harvesting silverbeet

Harvest of silverbeetUsually the harvest season for silverbeet extends from July up to the first frost spells, depending on the time of sowing, planting, and on your needs.

  • Cut or break off the stalks at ground level.
  • Select the larger stalks first.
  • Harvest according to your needs.

Silverbeet in winter

There are 2 main phases regarding winter care for silverbeet, one phase is before it freezes and the other once the freezing season is over and the plants enter their vegetation phase.

Before the first frost spells

  • Silverbeet winterBest is to protect your silverbeet from the cold.
  • Ridge up a small mound of soil around the bunch, up to where the leaves are.
  • Cover everything with a thick layer of dead leaves.
  • Straw and dried fern fronds also insulate well.
  • On warmer days, uncover the mulch to aerate a short while, then cover again.

Silverbeet after winter

  • Remove the dried leaf cover at the end of winter to reveal the leaves.
  • You can start harvesting your silverbeet stalks again.

All there is to know about silverbeet

Silverbeet plantSilverbeet belongs to the same family as red beet, and is much appreciated for its leaves and stalks which are very interesting from a culinary point of view.

It is eaten both cooked or raw, just like spinach, but it is generally found to be sweeter.

In the south of France, around Nice, silverbeet is an omnipresent vegetable. It is cooked there in omelets, baked with cheese, added to pies and even desserts!

Silverbeet is without doubt a true heirloom vegetable that deserves to be invited to our mealtimes more regularly!

Benefits of silverbeet

Benefits of silverbeetMany health benefits of silverbeet are often unknown to the public at large.

Low in calorie intake and rich in fibers, it is a great source of vitamins C and A, iron and magnesium, which makes it an excellent vegetable for fighting drowsiness.

It eases transit and has diuretic and laxative effects on our body.

Smart tip about silverbeet

Silverbeet likes the soil to stay moist, especially when the weather is hot. Remember to mulch in summer to keep the soil cool.

Images: CC BY 2.0: Manuel Martin Vicente; Pixabay: Krisztina Papp, Valentin Bouvet, crwages, Elaine Maz, Jana V. M., walkersalmanac