In 2015, I published a blog post entitled ‘Perennial chard’, which has had more hits than any other. Now, I don’t know why precisely people are searching this topic, except from the occasional search term suggesting they are curious to know if indeed chard is perennial.
Unfortunately, these readers will have been disappointed in the post if that is what they wanted to know, as my post simple ponders the possibility that it is. At that time, I was doing an experiment with the first chard I had sown and was waiting for the results.
That patch of chard bolted, which I have observed with all the chard since. In my climate it grows over the summer and can withstand the winter. Then it flowers in the next year and subsequent leaves are very small. As for the stems, they become gnarled and extremely tough – almost too tough to cut through and I imagine they would remain so when cooked.
So, in short, it seems that chard is biennial, at least here. However, it self-seeds readily, which I first observed last spring, after mulching with compost which contained the seeds from the boltings in 2015.
The upshot of this unintended event was that I named 2016 ‘The year of chard’, as the garden was full of the stuff. I ended up giving it away by the armful throughout the winter and spring. Only the guinea pigs who had the last of it never said no!
Now, I have my fresh self-sown crop, which is considerably more manageable. Just a handful of plants, which are still plenty for our needs, though not quite enough for guinea pigs as well.
I have tried not to put anymore seeds in the compost bin, although I’m not sure I have succeeded 100%. Still, it would be a shame not to have a crop next year, for the sake of a few misplaced plants. They can at least be removed and I am getting better at being ruthless on that front.
All in all, the packet of seeds I bought three years ago has been one of my best investments. This does make the lack of cucumbers and courgettes less of a let-down. If only my daughter would develop an appetite for it, too.