Beta vulgaris (56 days) Open-pollinated. A best seller and 1998 AAS winner from Johnny’s. Bright Lights bathes stems, midribs and secondary veins in a panoply of gold, yellow, orange, pink, intermediate pastels and dazzling stripes. The tenderness of its dark green to bronze leaves and the mildness of its chard flavor impresses all who try it. Young seedlings respond to cut-and-come-again culture, ideal for mesclun. Developed by John Eaton of Lower Hutt, New Zealand, who found the parent plants, red and yellow, in a small home garden in 1977 and crossed them to standard green and white varieties, selecting for color and flavor over the next fifteen years. Johnny’s worked the following years to preserve the strength and range of the individual colors. ③
3036 Bright Lights
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Salzer’s 1915 catalog opines, “Swiss chard produces more food for the table than almost any other vegetable and it also requires less care; it yields a constant crop from July to winter.” Same species as beets.
Culture: Hardy and easy to grow. Can be sown almost as soon as ground can be worked in spring. Minimum germination temperature 40°, optimum range 50–85°. Space according to use—can be direct-seeded 2" apart for baby-leaf harvest; thin to 12–16" apart for large leaves. Soften thick ribs of chard, beets and other greens by braising. Also used for microgreens.
Disease: Cercospora Leaf Spot (CLS) looks like someone shot small target-like circles in mature foliage. Prolonged periods of rain and high humidity exacerbate this disease. Rotating crops, removing plant debris, and wider row spacing for adequate air circulation are preventive measures.
Days to maturity are from emergence after direct seeding.
All greens are open-pollinated except where noted.
Culture: When to harvest greens? Research from trials conducted in England and Kenya showed looseleaf lettuce, red chard and arugula harvested in the evening had a longer shelf life than when picked in the morning.
For the latest results of our germination tests, please see the germination page.