Beta vulgaris (55 days) Open-pollinated. Also called Leaf Beet. Thanks to Pam Dawling for suggesting we add this member of the chard family. Leaf beet should be cultured like any other chard variety. It looks similar to other swiss chards, but its stems are thinner and its exceptionally tender leaves are smoother, not puckered. It tastes unlike any other chard, imparting a spinach-like flavor that lingers pleasantly. Unlike spinach, Perpetual lasts through summer into fall as it withstands light and moderate frosts. Production from June to October, reports one central-Vermont grower. ②
3034 Perpetual Spinach
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Salzer’s 1915 catalog opines, “Swiss chard produces more food for the table than almost any other vegetable and it also requires less care; it yields a constant crop from July to winter.” Same species as beets.
Culture: Hardy and easy to grow. Can be sown almost as soon as ground can be worked in spring. Minimum germination temperature 40°, optimum range 50–85°. Space according to use—can be direct-seeded 2" apart for baby-leaf harvest; thin to 12–16" apart for large leaves. Soften thick ribs of chard, beets and other greens by braising. Also used for microgreens.
Disease: Cercospora Leaf Spot (CLS) looks like someone shot small target-like circles in mature foliage. Prolonged periods of rain and high humidity exacerbate this disease. Rotating crops, removing plant debris, and wider row spacing for adequate air circulation are preventive measures.
Days to maturity are from emergence after direct seeding.
All greens are open-pollinated except where noted.
Culture: When to harvest greens? Research from trials conducted in England and Kenya showed looseleaf lettuce, red chard and arugula harvested in the evening had a longer shelf life than when picked in the morning.
For the latest results of our germination tests, please see the germination page.