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Swiss Chard ‘Fordhook Giant’ may just well be the perfect vegetable. Introduced in 1934, this well known bolt resistant variety has been a market leader for years. A vigorous grower with a very long harvest period, the plants grow 50 to 60cm (22 to 27in) tall and handle both heat and light frost particularly well.
Fordhook Giant is a fine flavoured variety that produces thick, dark green, crisp, crumbled leaves with a broad white rib on juicy white stalks. This excellent variety continuously produces new leaves when harvested frequently.
Plant early and often, and enjoy fresh greens long after frost has killed the others. 25 days to maturity for baby and 50 days for bunching. Sow one seed per module. If you are after small ‘cut and come again’ leaves for salads, you can sow direct in the soil by making a wide drill about 2.5cm deep and sprinkling seeds in it. Leave 30cm between drills. Chard can also be grown in containers. Sow seeds from March onwards. Do a late summer sowing for winter harvesting.
When you plant out the seedlings, allow 45cm between plants. If plants bolt in summer, simply cut them back and they will soon start to produce tasty leaves again. Weed regularly and water in dry weather. Cover in winter with cloches or fleece to keep the worst of the weather off them.
Pick often to encourage the plant to produce tender new leaves. For salad leaves, cut individual leaves as required when about 5cm long. On larger plants, start harvesting leaves from the outside and work your way in to the centre. Whenever harvesting leaves, always leave about 5cm of the stem so the plant can grow back. It will come again several times. Cook the stalks and leaves seperately – the stalks take slightly longer to cook.