Vegetable Gardening

Common names: chard, Swiss chard, sea kale, Swiss beet, sea kale beet Botanical name: Beta vulgaris cicia

Origin: Europe, Mediterranean

Varieties

Lucullus (50 days); Fordhook Giant (60 days); Rhubarb (60 days).

Description

Chard is basically a beet without the bottom. It's a biennial that's grown as an annual for its big crinkly leaves. Chard is a decorative plant; with its juicy red or white leaf stems and rosette of large, dark green leaves, it can hold its own in the flower garden. It's also a rewarding crop for the home vegetable gardener — it's easy-going and very productive. If you harvest the leaves as they grow, the plant will go on producing all season.-Chard has an impressive history, too; it was a popular foodstuff even before the days of the Roman Empire.

Where and when to grow

Chard prefers cool temperatures; high temperatures

Celeoif cabbage

See Chinese cabbage

Celtuce

See Lettuce

slow down leaf production, but chard tolerates heat better than spinach does. In a mild climate you can plant chard from fall to early spring; in the North, plant from spring to midsummer.

How to plant

Plant chard from seed clusters (which each contain several seeds)

about the average date of last frost in your area. Chard tolerates partial shade and likes fertile, well-worked soil with good drainage and a high organic content; like the beet, it is not fond of acid soil. Work a complete, well-balanced fertilizer into the soil before planting, at the rate of a pound per 100 square feet or 10 pounds per 1,000 square feet.

Vegetable Gourd

Plant the seed clusters an inch deep and four to six inches apart in rows 18 to 24 inches apart. When they're large enough to handle, thin seedlings to stand about nine to 12 inches apart. Although you are growing from seed clusters, each of which is likely to produce several seedlings, thinning is not as important as it is when you're growing beets, which must have ample room for root development. Chard plants can stand crowding — they'll produce smaller leaves but more of them. A few extra plants will also give you replacements for any that bolt or go to seed in hot weather. Remove any plants that bolt, and let the others grow.

Fertilizing and watering

Fertilize before planting and again at midseason, at the same rate as the rest of the garden. Detailed information on fertilizing is given in "Spadework: The Essential Soil" in Parti.

The crop does need enough water to keep the leaves growing quickly, so keep the soil moist at all times.

Pests

Aphids and leaf miners are the major pests you'll have to contend with. You can usually control aphids by pinching out the affected area; if there are a lot of them, try hosing them off the plants. Leaf miners, wormlike insects that feed inside the leaf surfaces, can also be controlled physically; pick off the older leaves where you see that miners have laid rows of pearl-white eggs. Detailed information on pest control is given in "Keeping Your Garden Healthy" in Parti.

Diseases

Chard has no serious disease problems.

When and how to harvest

Time from planting to harvest is 55 to 60 days. A 10-foot row of chard should give you nine pounds or more of produce. Start harvesting chard when the outside leaves are three inches long; don't let them get much over 10 inches long or they'll taste earthy. Some gardeners like to take off the outside leaves a few at a time; others prefer to cut the entire plant down to three inches and let it grow back. Chard will grow and produce steadily all summer, and if the soil is fertile and the weather doesn't get too cold, harvesting may continue into a second year.

Storing and preserving

Chard can be stored for one to two weeks in the refrigerator. It can also be frozen, canned, or dried; use the recipes for greens. Detailed information on storing and preserving is given in Part 3.

Serving suggestions

Chard is delicious steamed or cooked like spinach. The leaves have a sweet taste like spinach, and they're colorful in a salad. Chard stalks can be cooked like celery. Cut them into pieces two or three inches long and simmer them until tender; serve them hot with butter or chilled with a light vinaigrette. If you're cooking the leaves and stalks together, give the stalks a five-minute head start so that both will be tender at the end of the cooking time.

Chayóte

Common names: chayote, chocho, chuchu, sou-sou, vegetable pear, one-seeded cucumber Botanical name: Sechium edule Origin: Central America

Varieties

Plant whatever variety is available. You plant the whole vegetable so you can use the chayote you buy in the local Spanish mercado.

Description

The chayote is a tender perennial vine that grows from a tuber and can climb to 30 feet. It's a member of the gourd family, and it has hairy leaves the size and shape of maple leaves; male and female flowers are borne on the same vine. The fruit looks like a greenish or whitish flattened pear. You can eat the young shoots, the fruit, and, if the plant lives long enough, the tubers. Chayote is very popular in Mexico and Central America; it also has a place in American Creole cooking.

Where and when to grow

The chayote prefers warm to hot temperatures and cannot survive temperatures below freezing. California, Texas, and Florida have the sort of climate the chayote enjoys, but it can be grown farther north if the growing season is long. In areas where the season is short, chayote can be grown in a pot inside and then set out in the soil or kept in a pot and brought back inside when the weather turns cold.

How to plant

You plant the whole fruit with the fat side placed at an angle half way down in the soil so that the stem area is level with the soil surface. Before planting, work a complete, well-balanced fertilizer into the soil at the rate of one pound per 100 square feet or 10 pounds per 1,000 square feet. The chayote likes well-drained soil with a high content of organic matter and will tolerate partial shade. Space the plants 24 to 30 inches apart, with four or five feet between rows. You don't need to provide a support for the vines unless you want to save space.

Fertilizing and watering

Fertilize before planting and again at midseason, at the same rate as the rest of the garden. Detailed information on fertilizing is given in "Spadework: The Essential Soil" in Parti.

Give the chayote plants plenty of water to keep them growing strongly.

Chayote seedling

Pests

Aphids may visit your chayote vines. Hand-pick or hose them off, or control them chemically by spraying with Malathion or Diazinon. Detailed information on pest control is given In "Keeping Your Garden Healthy" in Parti.

Diseases

Chayote has no serious disease problems.

When and how to harvest

Time from planting to harvest is 120 to 150 days. Cut the chayote off the vine while the fruit is young

Vine Plants Chayote

and tender; don't wait until the flesh gets hard.

Storing and preserving

Chayotes will keep in the refrigerator up to one week. Freeze your extra chayotes either diced or stuffed like squash. Detailed information on storing and preserving is given In Part 3.

Serving suggestions

Chayote can be prepared any way you prepare squash. Chayote Is best eaten young and tender. If It overripens, scoop out the flesh, remove the seed (a large seed, in what looks like a terry cloth bag), mash the flesh with cheese or meat, restuff the empty shell and bake. The tubers of very mature plants are edible and filling, but not very flavorful.

Chick pea

Common names: chick pea, gram, garbanzo Botanical name: Cicerarietinum Origin: southern Europe and India

Varieties

Few varieties are available; grow the variety available in your area.

Description

Chick peas or garbanzos are regarded as beans, but their botanical place is somewhere between the bean and the pea. They're tender annuals and grow on a bushy plant, rather like

Garbanzo Bean Plant

snap beans but they have a longer growing season. Chick peas have puffy little pods that contain one or two seeds each. In some areas they're grown as a field crop as a food for horses, but they're good food for people, too.

Where and when to grow

Chick peas are tender plants and can't tolerate much cold — a hard frost will damage the immature beans. You can grow them anywhere in the United States that has 90 to 100 frost-free days. Plant chick peas from seed on the average date of last frost for your area.

How to plant

Choose a bed in full sunlight; chick peas tolerate partial shade, but partial shade tends to mean a partial yield. Prepare the soil by mixing in a pound of 5-10-10 fertilizer — don't use a high-nitrogen fertilizer, because too much nitrogen will promote growth of foliage but not of the pods. Work the fertilizer into the soil at the rate of one pound per 100 square feet or 10 pounds per 1,000 square feet. The seeds may crack and germinate poorly when the moisture content of the soil is too high. Don't soak the seeds before planting, and don't overwater immediately afterward. Plant seeds an inch deep and two inches apart in rows at least 18 to 24 inches apart. When the seedlings are growing well, thin the plants to four to six inches apart. Cut the seedlings with scissors at ground level; be careful not to disturb the others.

They don't mind being a little crowded; in fact, they'll use each other for support.

Fertilizing and watering

Chick peas set up a mutual exchange with soil microorganisms called nitrogen-fixing bacteria, which help them produce their own fertilizer. Some gardeners recommend that if you haven't grown beans in the plot the previous season, you should treat the seeds before planting with a nitrogen-fixing bacteria inoculant to help them convert organic nitrogen compounds into usable organic compounds.

This is a perfectly acceptable practice but it isn't really necessary; the bacteria in the soil will multiply quickly enough once they've got a growing plant to work with.

Fertilize before planting and again at midseason, at the same rate as the rest of the garden. Detailed information on fertilizing is given in "Spadework: The Essential Soil" in Parti.

Keep the soil moist until the chick peas have pushed through the ground. Water regularly if there's no rain, but remember that water on the flowers can cause the flowers and small pods to fall off. When the soil temperature reaches 60°F you can mulch to conserve moisture.

Special handling

Don't bother the plants when they're wet or covered with heavy dew; handling or brushing against them when they're wet spreads fungus spores. Cultivate thoroughly but with care, so that you don't disturb the bean plants' shallow root systems.

Pests

Chick peas may be attacked by aphids, bean beetles, flea beetles, leafhoppers, and mites. Aphids, leafhoppers, and mites can be controlled chemically by spraying with Malathion or Diazinon. Bean beetles and flea beetles can be controlled chemically by spraying with carbaryl. Chick peas are almost always attacked by large numbers of pests that cannot be controlled by organic methods. This doesn't mean the organic gardener can't grow them, but yields may be lower if only organic controls are used. Detailed information on pest control is given in "Keeping Your Garden Healthy" in Parti.

Diseases

Chick peas are susceptible to blight, mosaic, and anthracnose. You can cut down on the incidence of disease by planting disease-resistant varieties when they're available, maintaining the general health of your garden, and avoiding handling the plants when they're wet. If a plant does become infected, remove and destroy it so it cannot spread disease to healthy plants. Detailed information on disease prevention is given in "Keeping Your Garden Healthy" in Parti.

When and how to harvest

If you want to eat them raw, pick chick peas in the green shell or immature stage. For drying, harvest the chick peas when the plants have matured and the leaves have turned completely brown. At this time the seeds should be dry and hard — bite a couple of seeds; if you can hardly dent them they're properly dry and ready to harvest.

Storing and preserving

Unshelled chick peas can be kept up to one week in the refrigerator. You can freeze, can, or dry the shelled chick peas, and they can also be sprouted. Dried shelled chick peas can be stored in a cool, dry place for 10 to 12 months. Detailed information on storing and preserving is given in Part 3.

Serving suggestions

Shelled chick peas can be steamed or boiled like peas, or roasted like peanuts. Vegetarian cooks often use chick peas with grains as a protein-rich meat substitute. In the Middle East they're pureed with garlic, lemon juice, and spices.

Chicony

Common names: chicory, witloof, French endive, Belgian endive, succory Botanical name: Cichorium intybus Origin: Asia, Europe

Chicory seedling

Varieties

For chicory root: Brunswick; Magdeburg; Zealand. For Belgian endive: Witloof.

Description

Chicory is a hardy perennial with a long, fleshy taproot and a flower stalk that rises from a rosette of leaves. It looks much like a dandelion except that the flowers grow on a branched stalk and are pale blue.

Chicory is grown either for its root, which can be roasted to produce a coffee substitute, or for its tender leaf shoots, which are known as Belgian or blanched endive. This plant is not to be confused with endive or escarole, which are grown as salad greens. Both chicory and endive belong to the same family, and the names are often used interchangeably, but they aren't the same plant. If you want to produce the chicory root or the Belgian endive, you grow chicory (Cichorium intybus) — you can eat the leaves, but that's not why you're growing the variety. If you're growing specifically for greens, you grow endive (Cichorium endivia).

Chicory has two stages of development. The first produces the harvestable root. In the second stage, you harvest the root and bury it upright in damp sand or soil until it produces sprouts or heads of pale, blanched leaves; these heads are the Belgian endives. Once you've harvested the heads, you can still use the roots, although they won't be as satisfactory as roots grown specifically for their own sake.

Where and when to grow

Chicory is very hardy, tolerates cold, and can be grown for Its roots anywhere in the United States. Since the second stage that produces the heads takes place after harvesting, climate is not an issue. Plant chicory seeds in the garden two to three weeks before the average date of last frost for your area.

How to plant

Chicory tolerates partial shade. The soil should be well-drained, high in organic matter, and free of lumps that might cause the roots to fork or split. Work a complete, well-balanced fertilizer into the soil before planting, at the rate of one pound per 100 square feet or 10 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Plant the seeds an inch deep in rows 24 to 36 inches apart, and thin them to 12 to 18 inches apart when the seedlings are four inches tall. You can eat the thinnings.

Special handling

If chicory is planted in well-cultivated soil that's rich in organic matter, it should develop large roots. If you're growing the plants for the roots alone, they'll be ready to harvest about 120 days after planting. If you want to produce the blanched heads, follow this procedure. Before the ground freezes, dig up the chicory roots and cut off the tops about two inches above the crown or top of the root. Store the roots in a cool, humid place — an outdoor pit or a root cellar. In winter and spring, bury the roots to "force" them and produce the blanched sprouts — for a continuous supply repeat the procedure every few weeks.

To prepare the roots for forcing, cut off the tips so that the roots are six to eight inches long, and pack them upright in a box, pot, or other container filled with fine sand or a mixture of sand and peat moss. Cover the tops of the roots with seven or eight inches of sand or sawdust, water thoroughly, and keep at a temperature of 60° to 70°F. Put them in your basement or in a cold frame or trench in the garden. You may need to water occasionally during the three or four weeks the heads take to develop. When the heads break the surface, remove the potting material and cut the heads with a knife where they meet the root.

Pictures Chicory Stages Growth

Diseases

Fertilizing and watering

Fertilize before planting and again at midseason, at the same rate as the rest of the garden. Detailed Information on fertilizing is given in "Spadework: The Essential Soil" in Parti. Keep the plants evenly moist.

Pests

Chicory has no serious pest problems. It's a good crop for the organic gardener who doesn't mind doing the extra work that chicory requires in its second stage of growth.

Chicory has no serious disease problems.

When and how to harvest

It takes more than 100 days to produce a mature chicory root. For the traditional blanched endive, you'll have to wait three or four weeks after starting the forcing procedure. You should be able to get 30 to 50 blanched heads from a 10-foot row of chicory plants.

Storing and preserving

Refrigerate the cut heads until you're ready to serve them, up to one week. You can keep the entire plant — root and all — for two to three months in a cold, moist place, or you can dig up the roots and store them for 10 to 12 months. Detailed information on storing is given in Part 3.

Serving suggestions

The roots of chicory are sometimes roasted and ground to add to coffee or used as a coffee substitute. Wash and dice the root, then dry it and roast it before grinding. Blanched endive heads are good braised or in salads. Mix endive with peppers, artichoke hearts, and sardines for an Italian-style salad, or with olives, cucumbers, anchovies, and tomato wedges in the Greek manner.

Chicory Succory Cooking
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Responses

  • LIDYA
    Does the sousou vegetable plant have white flowers?
    7 years ago
  • Pervinca Banks
    How to grow chickpeas?
    7 years ago
  • hubert
    How to keep veggie roots apart?
    7 years ago
  • tobias
    How to grow garbanzos (chick peas)?
    7 years ago
  • lucas duerr
    Does chicory and cabbage go together in planting?
    6 years ago
  • fosco
    How to grow garbanzo beans?
    6 years ago
  • Bladud Goodchild
    Why is sunlight important to plants?
    6 years ago
  • cheryl
    How much cold can a vegetable pear vine take?
    6 years ago
  • giuseppe
    How do you draw a grown garbanzo bean?
    5 years ago
  • Susan Williams
    How to grow chayote in the north east?
    5 years ago
  • jessica
    What to fertilize chayote plant?
    3 years ago

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