August 24, 2017

Garden Fireworks

'Bright Lights' Swiss chard

Janine Pineo Photo | ‘Bright Lights’ Swiss chard

Anyone who thinks vegetables are boring has likely never laid eyes on ‘Bright Lights,’ a Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) bred by Maine’s own Johnny’s Selected Seeds. This multicolored collection is white, yellow, orange, gold, pink, violet and red with striping as you can see in the picture. The mix of plants makes for an explosion of color both bold and pastel in the vegetable patch. Named an All-America Selections winner in 1998, ‘Bright Lights’ is easy to grow from seed and can be used as baby greens in salads or as a mature plant with leaves the size of a dinner plate. Johnny’s says the taste is milder than normal chard and it seems to be a little less frost-tolerant, too. Chard is incredibly good for you, with a host of antioxidants and phytonutrients. Chard also contains oxalic acid, which is not so good if you just eat raw chard all the time. But if you cook it, the concentration is greatly reduced. Traditionally, boiling is the preferred method of cooking, but with the crop it looks like we’ll be having, we may need some more options this year. And if you click on the link to read about how good chard is, disregard the line about not eating the stems of the colored varieties because they are “very tough.” We don’t know what they are eating, but the stems of ‘Bright Lights’ are just right.