Tag Archives: swiss chard


The Snarky Gardener writes an abundance of words about abundance.  Imagine that.
Too many snow peas? I think not.

To the Snarky Gardener, abundance means having plenty (even too much) of a thing. Often people are concerned with what they can’t grow or what’s not doing well because of pests, lack of sunlight, or poor soil. But if you take this “problem” and turn it on its head with abundance, your mindset totally changes. The question, “What can I grow a boat load of?”, offers up all kinds of possibilities. I believe food growers should build upon their successes, with new and experimental plants taking only a small amount of total resources, and removal of those that produce poorly. At Snarky Acres, that means growing more sunchokes, turnips, potatoes, tomatoes, beans, peas, kale, garlic, onions, greens, zucchini, corn, Swiss chard, comfrey, and herbs (especially perennials like mint, lemon balm, oregano, and sage). It also means growing less (or no) broccoli, watermelon, peppers, eggplant, spinach, and beets. It’s hard to stop trying with those fruits and vegetables we love to eat, but not everything grows well everywhere, even in the same relative climate.

Too much mint or not enough mojitos?
How to create abundance:

1. Grow a lot more of what grows well.
2. Look for alternative resources (weeds, trees, native species)
3. Create environments where abundance happens naturally (perennials and self-seeding plants)
4. Save seeds, plant extra starts (tomatoes, etc), and start new plants from cuttings.
5. Grow in non-optimal spaces (shade, poor soil)
6. “Invasive” also means “Abundance”

How to utilize abundance:

1. Find trading partners (food swaps, seed swaps, time banks, neighborhood barter systems)
2. Learn to preserve (canning, freezing, drying)
3. Find other uses (dynamic accumulators, medicinal)
4. Learn to create products from your produce (extracts, salves, pesto)

Let It Snow (twice)!

This fall we’ve had serious snow twice so far (several inches each time) here in Northeastern Ohio. While most people have not even thought about their gardens since the first freeze back in October, the early snow had me worried. Many of my fall duties were incomplete, including digging up and bringing in my rosemary herbs (they died out there last winter – sniff). Also, the fall leaves I gathered into big honking piles did not get as distributed as I would have liked. I found out this summer that some plants (lettuce, spinach, kale, turnips, peas, corn salad) could be covered with mulch 5 or 6 inches deep in the fall to “overwinter” them. Then in mid-March, you just pull off the leaves and viola, they will start growing again. Nifty trick having food producing plants when other unsnarky gardeners are still planning for the summer.  Anyways, I was finally able to finish these tasks on 12/4/2013 with most of my fall babies no worse for wear.

If you look at the pictures below, you will notice some of my plants didn’t do as well by December (especially the sad Swiss chard in the middle foreground). In the back left, my mustard is going to seed, which is good because I needed more for cooking and next year’s crop. But you will also see that there’s quite a bit of green considering it’s December in Ohio. On the right foreground, my purple top turnips are looking great. I will thin these out (yum) and mulch the rest in the next week or so. Also, near the Swiss chard, you should be able to make out bright green areas near the ground. That’s my corn salad and onions, all ready to eat. We used them plus mustard greens, carrots, and kale to make a wonderfully fresh salad (again, in December in Ohio).

P.S.  I don’t think “unsnarky” is a word, but with use it will soon become one.

Snow on 11/12/2013
Snow on 11/12/2013
Melted snow on 11/16/2013
Snow melted on 11/16/2013
Snow again on 11/30/2013
Snow again on 11/30/2013
Melted snow again on 12/04/2013
Snow melted again on 12/04/2013

WinterSown.org part 2

On 4/10/2013, as I looked down the plastic jug holes, little leaves finally sprouted!  From the looks of the leaves and the jug itself (the pink plastic ring on the top), they are kohlrabi and Swiss chard.  This wasn’t planted back on 3/22/2013, but one I prepped later on 3/28.  You will notice the spray bottle in the picture.  It’s my secret weapon (don’t tell anyone) to watering once the jugs are sealed up.  The WinterSown.org instructions say to take the duct tape off to water, but that sounded like a lot of work.  I just spray water in from the top, thus not disturbing the seeds nor over watering.

Kohlrabi and Swiss chard winter sown on 3/28/2013
Kohlrabi (clover shaped at the top) and Swiss chard seedlings – 4/13/2013
Kohlrabi (clover shaped at the top) and Swiss chard seedlings – 4/13/2013

The other jugs are also making progress, though not as much as this first one.  The Apiacea (or Umbelliferae) family jug (carrots, cilantro, celery, and chervil) is almost totally barren, but I’m not surprised as these usually takes longer to germinate than others.  If you look closely though, you can see a little green at the top of the picture, but since they are all the same family, I’m not sure which plant it is.  The Snarky Gardener will taste them later to see who is who.  If it tastes like licorice, it’s the chervil.  Cilantro and celery are very distinct tasting also.

Snarky Gardener fact:  they are known as Umbelliferae because their flowers spread out like little umbrellas (think Queen Anne’s lace).

Carrots, cilantro, celery, and chervil – 4/13/2013

The broccoli, leek, echinacea, and carrot below are still at a standstill, though you can see a few broccoli poking their little heads out at the top of the picture.  Seeds from the Brassicaceae family (cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, mustard, kale, radishes, and turnips) tend to sprout pretty quickly, with radishes being one of the first to develop (ready to eat in 3 to 4 weeks).

Broccoli, leek, echinacea, and carrot – 4/13/2013