Silverbeet 'Rainbow Chard'
Scientific Name:Beta vulgaris subsp. cicla
AKA: Silverbeet ‘Rainbow Chard’, Rainbow Chard, Rainbow Silverbeet
Family: Amaranthaceae (Amaranth & Beet Family)
Beta: From Bett, Red; Celtic
The native form of Beta vulgaris is called wild sea beet and can be found growing along the coastline of Europe and Western Asia. Silverbeets, also called Swiss Chard due to their extensive cultivation in Switzerland, although derived from the same species as beetroot were actually in cultivation around 1,500 prior. Rainbow Chard is not a single variety per say but actually a mix of different white, red, orange, yellow and pink-stemmed cultivars of Silverbeet.
Rainbow Chard is a colourful medley of white, yellow, orange, red and pink-stemmed heirloom Silverbeet varieties. The white-stemmed type however is generally stronger and may out-perform the other varieties.
The mix of varieties that make up Rainbow Chard are generally milder than other cultivars but they still have their characteristic bitter, salty taste. Young leaves can be eaten raw and make a great addition to salads. Older leaves can be bitter and tough but cooking them will improve them greatly. Cooked Silverbeet can be used in anything where you would normally use cooked spinach.
Plant Rainbow Chard seeds 2cm deep and about 20cm apart. Sow all year around in the tropics and subtropics, or anytime except Winter in temperate regions. Soak seed in water for a couple of hours prior to planting to aid germination.
Main harvest takes 7-12 weeks from sowing. Leaves can be picked young when they are tender or left on the plant longer although they’ll be tougher. Leaves can be harvested individually allowing the rest of the plant allowed to continue growing. When the plant begins to flower the entire top can be cut off to encourage it to re-shoot from the base. Grows best in moist soils. Tolerant of light frosts.