One of the easiest to grow of all the vegetables, Silverbeet, also known as under the names Swiss Chard and for the coloured stemmed variety Rainbow Chard, gives a huge harvest in a short amount of time. Two plants would be enough to feed one person with silverbeet for every meal of the week
You can grow these plants directly in the ground from seed, or you will get 6 to 8 seedlings in a punnet for around $3.00 at your local nursery.
Seeds cab be sown in early spring and late summer, early autumn. Put two or three seeds in the one hole about 40cm apart and 1cm deep. Keep the seeds moist, but not wet. I prefer late autumn plantings, as I find they are less likely to bolt to seed than spring plantings.
Even though these plants will grow just about anywhere with very little input, to get the best quality out of your silverbeet, grow them in soil enriched with organic matter, such as compost or rotted manure. Keep the plants moist, but not wet. They will grow in part shade as well as full sun. It doesn’t hurt to liquid feed them over the foliage with a seaweed fertiliser once a month to keep the fresh leaves coming on. Also, harvest the leaves frequently, even if you aren’t going to eat them. This helps stop them running to seed. Pests to watch out for are slugs, snails and caterpillars.
So you haven’t been a fan of silverbeet in the past? Try these delicious recipies and you might just change your mind about this humble vegetable.
SUMPTUOUS SILVERBEET SALAD
Even my dad, who hates silverbeet, loves this salad. It has a real smokey flavour.
1 bunch silverbeet
3 cups bean sprouts
3 rashers cooked bacon
1/2 cup roasted cashews
1 tblspoon white vinegar
1/2 cup oil
1 tblspoon lemon juice
1 clove crushed garlic
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Shred silverbeet and put in bowl with chopped bacon, bean sprouts and cashews. Mix dressing
ingredients together thoroughly and pour over salad and toss well.
SILVERBEET & RICOTTA CANTALONNI
1packet of instant cantalonni pasta
1 tub of ricotta cheese
1 bunch of silverbeet
2 cups of grated cheese
4 cups of neapolitan or bolognaise tomato sauce
salt and pepper to taste
Shred silverbeet very finely, mix with the tub of ricotta cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste (I always use fresh ground black pepper and sea salt).
Stuff the ricotta mixture into the cantalonni shells. Lay stuffed cantalonni in a shallow dish.
Cover with neapolitan sauce and cheese. Bake in a preheated, moderate oven for 40 minutes.