Sunday, March 15, 2009

Why I am called the Chard Lady

Swiss chard is sort of like zucchini, only flatter. One plant will provide more than enough for a typical family, and more than enough to exhaust all your friends. But like zucchini, no good gardener plants just one chard plant. First there are a couple of plants, just in case one dies, then a neighbor plants a couple of other colors and soon there is chard envy and pretty soon there is every color of chard growing in every available corner and chard stuffed in a gaggle of bread bags in the vegetable crisper. And that doesn’t even account for what happens in the next year, when the plants start to send up a seed stalk that needs to be chopped back daily. Pretty soon the greenship is overrun with chardlet tribbles. You know you are really in trouble when the chard starts finding its way into smoothies and breakfast cereal.

I have a really great garden, and some of my friends do as well. Sometimes we grow just a little bit more than we can eat. I’ll admit that I am just a little bit like octomom when I get to gardening. If I get great germination, well, I need to plant each and every seedling, regardless of how I might take care of them or whether my tiny plot is already full. After all, they’re my seedlings, and I am not going to kill them, even if in the end it kills me. I never had chard when I was a kid and now I want to create that perfect chard garden that I longed for in my youth.

Sometimes my friends and I go on long vacations during the peak seasons, so we harvest for each other. Faced with my own surplus, and that of my neighbors’, I started taking all the extra chard to the local food pantry. After a couple of years of almost-weekly delivery, the director started calling me the Chard Lady.


  1. Speaking of breakfast .... what do you eat for breakfast? I live in Carpinteria and I am interested in doing a 100 mile diet myself but I am not sure what I would do for breakfast. A girl can only do so many eggs and so many fruit drinks.

  2. Hi Kristen! This month I have oatmeal as an exception, so oatmeal it is. In months when rice is my exception, I like to make rice pudding and eat it cold. Sure do miss those raisins! I have replaced my morning cup of coffee with my homemade vegetable broth, made mostly with leek tops and celery. Sometimes I have vegetable soup or eggs with chard or collards. In the summer I like to make eggs topped with all sorts of cooked reject fresh tomatoes and fresh peppers, so I might pick wheat as one of my exceptions when the weather gets warmer.