Wednesday, March 10, 2010

They're baaaaack

Chard, oh Swiss Chard, I have such a love-hate relationship with you. On the love side, you were one of the first vegetables I grew as a ten year old, and my father loved to eat you. Your cheerful acceptance of so many different weathers makes you a stalwart garden performer. You come in pretty colors.

But . . . your oxalic acid content makes my teeth squeak. I don't like you as much as my true love (Kale, oh kale, sing to me of garlic and olive oil, and fish sauce and vinegar, and nuts and goat cheese, sigh), and really, you get too big too fast. No one else here likes you much at all.

Unless you count them.

Every year, beets, spinach, and chard are preyed on by leaf miners. It wasn't until last year, of course, that I identified these little white things as the precursors to those nasty leaf-ruining tunnels.

Now that I know what they are, though, I feel compelled to try to stay on top of them. In other years, I'd pull the chard, call it a day, and be done with all beet-green relatives until the next cold weather.

Decisions, decisions.


kitsapFG said...

I love chard. Thankfully, I have not had much problems with leaf miners and have gotten by with minimal pest intervention actions.

So... what was your decision?

Stefaneener said...

I'm visiting the chard daily and scraping leaves. The spinach, though, I'm pulling whole plants and eating.

Jan said...

Aha! Thanks I didn't realise that that's what they were! And yes, it does make your teeth squeak!

chaiselongue said...

I find spinach much 'squeakier', although I love both - young spinach leaves raw in salad, chard stems steamed and served with olive oil, garlic and parmesan as a starter, the leaves cooked separately, then served with olive oil and garlic (what don't I serve with olive oil and garlic?), like cooked spinach, or in a tart. I'm lucky enough not to have met any leaf miners yet.

Ribbit said...

Ah, my favorite. Ode to the Leaf Miner.

I hate those things.

Daphne Gould said...

Good luck with your chard. I love my chard so I really do try to keep on top of it. This year I'm planting twice as much chard, so I'm going to have to work twice as hard to keep those little eggs off. At least they don't lay all the time - at least where I live. Here they have about four generations or so. I'll be inundated for a few weeks then have some time off. Then I'll get another wave.

Mr. H. said...

Surely one day they will come around to your way of thinking regarding the kale, just keep trying to "lead them into the light."

Don't worry about the leaf miners, I just read somewhere that all you have to do is watch for them on the back side of the leaves and squish the eggs before they hatch. Easy right? Not hardly, unless you only have one plant.:)

We have the same problem and often wonder why we even bother with chard but come winter and early spring when the plants are bug free we remember.

My favorite is kale too...especially Russian kale. Oh, but to try it with fresh goat cheese, now that would be nice.

Erin said...

I admit I didn't eat much chard this past winter, just let it look pretty in my containers outside the back door, LOL!

Stefaneener said...

Jan, yes, it was like a revelation last year. Never dawned on me to look for evidence, just post-hoc!

chaiselongue, everything tastes better with garlic and olive oil. Then you toss in the pine nuts and raisins . . . so good. I still prefer kale.

Ribbit, I'm a veritable poet while killing.

Daphne, leaf miners are actually why I bought Reemay. If I were committed to chard (the way I thought I was to spinach) I would tent it. After careful squishing, that is.

Mr. H., it's only a matter of time. I put kale into everything. My in laws may be a lost cause. So with the cheese? Saute with onions, then take it off the heat, stir the goat cheese in until it's creamy, then top with toasted walnuts. Like heaven, I tell you.

Erin, that may, in fact, be a suitable use for chard. No matter what they all say.

michelle said...

Tis the season. It's more difficult checking for those little eggs on the crinkly leaved chard. But picking often so that the larvae don't have a chance to drop to the soil and pupate helps to keep the populations down. Don't throw the infested leaves into the compost, the larvae will pupate there as well. I love chard and kale equally. I don't really notice the squeakiness in chard as much as in spinach.

Heiko said...

I love chard. It makes our local 'national' dish, a kind of tart. So I can't be seen not to grow it and for me it grows as a perennial without any pest problems. On the other hand I can't grow spinach without it bolting before it had a chance to produce leaves, so I just use chard instead for anything requiring spinach like a nice saag aloo spinach and potato curry.

Stefaneener said...

Michelle, the chickens get all of the bug-and-mildew infested leaves. I should pick (and eat) much more, I suppose. Chard for lunch!

Heiko, I know the Italians and chard. I was raised by one! Your tart idea made me think of a leek tart for dinner - leeks gifted by a friend. Wouldn't spinach grow well late in the summer through winter? That's how it does best here.

Heiko said...

No in the winter weeds grow faster than the spinach and engulf it before I can find it.