Swiss ChardI love to garden. I love the way the garden changes so quickly throughout the year, marking the seasons and changing on its own as if by magic. I love the variety of vegetables that come from such tiny seeds and how two that look alike hide amazingly different plants.

Early in the spring the garden is a potential – nothing in itself, but waiting to be told what it will become. Then comes the thrill of seeing seedlings poking out of the earth. Right now my garden is a jungle (both from the profusion of greenery and the humidity!). If I’m brave enough, I can hunt through this jungle to find an entire meal for the family or simply hide in-between the five foot tall rows and lose myself in another world, one that I have grown myself.

One thing I haven’t particularly enjoyed is the storing and using of the vegetables I grow in the garden, especially things that I decided I would try out this time because they grow so well in our area. I love eating everything from our garden and the kids and I have often spent a morning grazing on treats from the garden so much we don’t eat lunch until three o’clock. All of us love picking cherry tomatoes and popping them into our mouths still warm from the sun or pulling out radishes, stopping only long enough to dip them into water before devouring them. I don’t think a single pea has made it inside the house this summer and strawberries are constantly fought over.

What is difficult, however, is the Swiss Chard. This was a new experiment this summer and the plant has loved my garden more than any other plant. Every time I harvest a bundle, another starts to grow back by the next morning. I love using this in stir-fry, chicken fried rice, and quiches, but storing this stuff has given me quite a headache. I thought I would share my learning about this plant.

I’ve finally decided I have to put up some of this for the winter to see if it brightens our winter soups as much as everyone says online. The claim is that it can replace spinach in any recipe, so I’m going to learn if this is true. Hopefully my family will put up with this experiment as they have with so many others!

I’ve been growing Fordhook Giant Chard, which is a variety with white stems that are edible. To store I’ve simply chopped the chard into one inch thick strips, submerged in boiling water for three minutes and soaked in ice water for another two to three minutes. From there, the chard was drained and store in freezer bags for the winter soup. I’ll write later this year to tell you if it’s as good as the claims. I don’t think Ive read about anyone who froze chard and wrote about it later as they were eating it! This will be a true test!
–Jesi