Chard, and All Sorts of Other Greens for Cooking:
It's worth scrolling down, as there are all sorts of other interesting greens listed here, as well as the Chard.
Once you've tried all these, don't forget the Kale, Oriental Greens,
and Mustard Greens (which have their own pages) too.
We are very fond of Chard, it provides a great cooked green for nearly
all of the year, easier than spinach.
One of our 'must have' crops, such a good return from even a little space.
When to sow chard? Two sowings: First sow in spring for crops through summer and autumn.
Or alternatively, sow after midsummer, for the heaviest production over winter and through to the following spring.
Leaf Beet (aka 'Perpetual Spinach')
This variety of chard is bred to have minimal stem (and maximum leaf) for picking and cooking like spinach. Great for repeated cutting and one of the easiest and most productive vegetables for a a small space. A sowing in late spring can provide greens for almost a whole year, until the plants bolt the following spring.
Light green leaves , minimal stem
Order ChLB - 300 seed £
Large glossy dark green leaves and wide white stems - a productive plant with tender leaves that reduce less on cooking than other similar greens. Very good value, cropping over a long period.
The unusual thing about this particular strain is that it has very sweet stems. Its nice to eat straight off the plant in the garden, and the stems are also noticably sweet when cooked.
Great in stir-fries & stews too. Dark green, medium white stem.
Order ChFG - 300 seed £
A fantastic new chard bred specially for home gardeners.
We liked it in our trials because it has really strong colouring on its stems, as well as a good texture and flavour.
The leaves are a nice deep green, and it is very vigorous, making lots of leaves. The deep gold stalks even keep their colour well after cooking.
Very beautiful, as well as tasty. Limited seed each year.
Pink Passion Chard
An amazing chard with shocking pink stems, and succulent dark green leaves.
It was thought to be extinct, but was rescued from a single packet by the dedicated people at Wild Garden Seeds, and after several years’ work, is now available again. We love it because not only is it tasty & productive, it is just beautiful to look at in the garden.
Shocking Pink! Back from the brink of extinction.
~ SALSOLA ~
Liscari Sativa (Agretti, Salsola soda)
Salsola has a beautiful 'candelabra' shape and crisp, crunchy thin leaves. The whole plant is simply gathered in bunches when small and either boiled and eaten as a vegetable. Raw, it makes a really good addition to salads, slightly salty and crunchy, while cooked it adds texture and flavour to dishes of greens.
Our original seed came from Italy, but also popular in Japan where it is used for soups. An easy plant to grow, and a great addition to the vegetable garden. Delicious, it is rarely available commercially because good seed is so hard to find.
Although the plants do get bigger later on, we think it is better to sow quite a lot and harvest young, so we give you quite a lot of seeds in the packet.
Growing it is easy. Although germination is always a bit poor, because they are not 'proper' seeds, actually little plants rolled up in a ball, but don't worry as we give you loads of seed in the packet and you will definitely get some plants from it. Too much heat actually reduces germination - so sow early undercover (up to end March), or outdoors later in the spring.
Nice both cooked & raw. Only available from December onwards each year.
Order LGSA - 10g approx - £
~ TURNIP GREENS ~
Turnip Greens are a really good green from central Europe. A quick alternative to Chard or Kale, ready about 4 weeks from sowing,with mild green leaves that have a wonderfully buttery flavour when cooked, and are also nice and mild if used raw in salads.
Unlike chard it doesn’t take up space for months on end, so you can just throw in a quick row here & there as a catch crop.
Great quick green - give it a go, we think you'll like it! Not ‘turnip-flavoured’ - just a wonderful green on its own.
Order BrTG - 2g seed £
When to sow? It bolts in the heat, so either sow very early for spring greens, or sow after midsummer for a maincrop harvest in late summer / early autumn.
~ HUAUZONTLE ~
This amazing plant grows large bushes (4 ft tall) with delicious edible leaves. However the best bits are the hundreds & hundreds of flower shoots which you gather just before they show their tiny yellow petals.
Easily picked, just take the top 3 inches of each flower stem (which will have both leaves and flowers) and boil or steam them. They are simple to cook and really nice.
It is hard to explain, but as well as the flavour, what is quite special about this plant is the texture when cooked.
This is one of the very few greens that keep a great texture when cooked, with a very slight crunch to them. They're not in any way chewy - but they just don't go completely soft the way that for example spinach does.
Because of this, as well as just eating as a green, they are a really great thing to mix in with rice, potato cakes, couscous or stir-fries, as an easy way to make a very simple and plain dish seem really special.
If you're a particularly keen cook, search on the internet for 'Huauzontles' for lots of Mexican recipes for fritters and more! But they're great just cooked simply and quickly as a side dish too. We plant around half a dozen plants in our home garden each summer, to supply us with shoots from mid-summer right through to the middle of October.
Botanically speaking, this is Chenopodium berlandieri. The baby plants look similar to the weed Fat Hen - so don't weed them out by mistake! They can get about 3 to 5 ft tall, and almost as wide. The leaves go red as nights cool, looking very pretty.
Order LGHu - approx 200 seed £
Vegetable mallow (Malva crispa) - used as spinach
This one is great! With this variety we think we've found a winner. It grows really well for us, looks very handsome, and - the key thing for us - tastes really good and is an excellent addition in the kitchen.
The seed is sown from mid to late spring. We prefer to start it in modules since (as with most greens) slugs can be a problem for baby plants, but as soon as it is beyond seedling stage it really gets going and is an easy trouble free source of greens. It produces absolutely loads of big, curly edged flavoursome leaves - they can be used for salad when young, but we think they're best cooked.
You'll need to allow the plants plenty of space and pick them regularly, as they get pretty big, growing to 4 foot + as the summer goes on. Just to avoid any disappointment or confusion, the plant doesn't make much in the way of flowers - they're very small and insignificant - but it's still a good looking plant.
Unusual, tasty leaf green, exceptionally productive. Good texture and flavour..
Order LgVM - approx 100 seed £
Sculpit (Silene vulgaris / S. inflata)
Sculpit - aka Stridolo, and a cultivated larger version of the wildflower Bladder campion - is well known in Italy, but rarely grown in the UK. It's hardy and easy to grow - sow from mid spring either direct or started in modules - and crops throughout the summer well into autumn.
It has an interesting 'herbal' flavour with a slight bitterness, and is often used to flavour egg and rice dishes, though we also really like it in a mixed salad.
Good flavour - ideal in omlettes, risottos as well as salads
Order LgSC - approx 50 seed £
~ SPINACH Seed ~
"Viroflex" Giant Winter Spinach
We are really pleased to have found a source of Giant Winter Spinach with good germination, and what is a well-maintained line of stock seed.
This variety is basically the old heirloom "Monstreux de Viroflay" - famous for its huge tender leaves for use over winter - that has been carefully improved by traditional breeding methods. It has been reselected for resistance to mildew, and to be a less likely to bolt if the weather gets hot.
Just to be clear , this is Winter Spinach, a cool-weather plant.. You sow it at the end of summer, for use over winter. Don't try to sow winter spinach in Spring, as it would bolt (go to flower) as soon as the weather warms up. But sowing this at the end of summer should give you large amounts of tender spinach over winter.
Large tender leaves from an old heirloom, with added resistance to mildew.
Order LGVx - a generous 500 seed to allow sucessive sowings £
Summer spinach is sown from spring-time onwards, it's a great summer vegetable for cooking and salads, but it does need regular watering or it will run to flower.
Really nice in salads or cooked.
Order LGSe - a generous 500 seed to allow successive sowings £
~ LEAF AMARANTHS ~
There are thousands of amaranths, but only a very few will grow well in the UK. We tried lots of different ones before we found these varieties. So if you've grown them before and been disappointed, or been told that 'you can't grow amaranth in the UK' - give these a try. We've had great reports back from all over the country - including as far north as Ullapool.
Sow amaranth in mid to late spring, starting it off in a seed tray. Don't plant out too early, it will do much better set out in June and will quickly catch up and overtake crops sown earlier in the year!
'Kerala Red' Leaf Amaranth
This amaranth is originally from India, and has intensely red leaves, stems and flowers.
It produces large quantities of delicious dark red leaves for use as a vegetable either on their own or in soups, stews and of course, curries.
Similar to the varieties often called 'Calalloo', it is so beautiful you may be tempted to grow it in the flower garden instead of the vegetable plot.
As you can see in the picture, if you let it go to seed it makes an amazing display with its red flowerheads, though it is better picked for eating at a younger stage.
Intensely red, for cooking
Order LGKR - at least 200 seed £
Mixed Leaf Amaranths
Amaranth leaves make a really good cooked green vegetable. The leaves and young shoots are wonderfully tender and delicious. Easier in the kitchen than many greens, for they grow well off the ground, so need much less washing than say spinach.
This is a mix of tall, high-yielding types such as 'Annapurna', 'Oscar Blanco' and other interesting crosses we have bred and selected in our trials. Crops heavily over a long season - they just keep making more & more shoots as you pick them. When it finally does go to flower, the seeds are white, so you can collect them for grain too.
These are amazing. In a polytunnel (pictured right) our best plant grew 15 feet tall, making 10kg of plant from a 0.0002g seed - that's a 50-millionfold increase in biomass in just 90 days! (Outdoors you'll get a much more manageable 2 or 3 ft tall plant.)
Moderately easy to grow: Growing requirements are similar to tomatoes when small, but a bit less fussy once the plants get going.
A mixture for leaf production. Bred by us from varieties suggested by Amaranth specialist David Brenner of Iowa State University.
Order LGML - about 200 tiny seed £
'Calalloo' Leaf Amaranth
This amaranth was sent in by an allotment grower, and when we tried it out it did very well for us.
It is the proper 'calalloo' species, and we were really happy to get it, because in general real Calalloo doesn't do well in the UK, but this variety has obviously been reselected for our conditions. It grew really well, even in the awful summer of 2012.
Green leaves, for cooking, with pretty red flowers.
Order LGCL - at least 200 seed £
~ SORREL ~
'Belleville' Leaf Sorrel
We are always surprised how few people grow sorrel, and we would encourage you to try this rather fine vegetable. Very easy to grow, producing clumps of pale green leaves with a good sharp lemon flavour - great in salads, as a lettuce substitute in sandwiches (doesn't go limp) and also very good cooked in soups and sauces.
One of the earliest green crops to start in spring and perennial - once you've got a clump going it needs no attention other than when you want to eat it. Hardy, early salad. Lemony!
Hardy, early salad or cooking leaf green, very easy to grow. Comes back each year.
Order SoBE - 1.5g (lots of seed) £
~ ORACH ~
Orach is great. It grows quickly early in the year, supplying mild spinach-shaped leaves with a pleasant flavour
They are great as a major ingredient in salads, or cooked like any of the other greens here.
Magenta Magic Orach
A purple-red orach, this looks great in the garden and on the table. The leaves are great with purple on top and contrasting green on the underneath, and they look beautiful in the morning dew.
The disc-like seed is sown from May onwards, for harvest over the summer. Plants grow to 1m tall (looking very pretty) , but are better picked when smaller as they are nice and tender when young. You use the small leaves in salads and the larger leaves cooked like spinach or chard. It has a particularly good flavour.