Summer is Heating Up

It’s hard to believe that July is just around the corner.  Before you know it, our garden will be in full swing with plenty of colorful flowers and produce. You can start to see it beginning even now! 

In the Sullivan Memorial Garden, we recently planted a new type of spinach, Spinach Galilee, that is better able to withstand warmer temperatures. It is typically grown in the Middle East, so hopefully it will be able to tolerate a Michigan summer! In addition, all of the pollinator plants are blooming, the sunflowers are getting bigger, and the peas and tomatoes are starting to flower. It’s amazing what some sunlight and warmer weather can do! The rainbow chard we recently planted in the Sullivan Memorial Garden is also growing very nicely. 

Often referred to as Swiss chard, this leafy green is super versatile with broad, thick stems. The stems come in a variety of colors, from white to orange, yellow, and pink. Rainbow chard refers to growing many different colored chard plants together, as you can see in our garden. Chard is very tolerant of the summer heat, and it is actually very easy to grow, which is perfect for beginners! 

Chard is a member of the beet family, and is very nutrient dense. Interestingly, because of its high nutrient content and ease of growing and harvesting, chard is now even being grown in space! Not even astronauts skip eating their vegetables! Chard contains an impressive amount of vitamin K. One cup cooked contains over 600% of the daily recommended allowance of vitamin K, which is needed to support bone health. One cup of cooked chard also contains 60% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A and 42% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C.  In addition, chard is a good source of magnesium, copper, potassium, vitamin E, iron, vitamin B2, and numerous antioxidant compounds. The antioxidants found in chard aid in lowering levels of inflammation. Specifically, chard can help to lower blood pressure due to its trace mineral content – magnesium, copper, potassium, and iron. These minerals are necessary for proper circulation, blood vessel health, and heart beat regulation, as well as muscle and nervous system health. Not only does chard help to improve digestive health and prevent constipation due to its fiber content, but chard is also known as a blood sugar regulator. Certain polyphenols in chard inhibit the breakdown of carbohydrates into simple sugars, which helps to maintain a steadier blood sugar level. This simple leaf packs a nutritious punch! 

Chard can be eaten raw or sautéed, and can be added to soups, salads, pasta dishes, omelets, and frittatas, and more! Here is a recipe for a chard side dish, perfect for a fresh summer dinner. 


Sautéed Swiss Chard and Summer Squash 

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium to large squash or zucchini sliced
  • 1 lb Swiss Chard
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic sliced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano minced
  • ½ onion minced
  • 2 oz crumbled feta cheese
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh black pepper

Instructions: 

  1. Roughly chop Swiss chard leaves and stems, keeping them separate. 
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add onion, chard stems and garlic to the pan. 
  3. Cook for 3 minutes or until slightly softened. 
  4. Add squash, chard leaves, oregano, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to the pan. Toss the mixture until all of the veggies are coated with the oil. 
  5. Continue to cook until the Swiss chard has wilted, and the squash are cooked through, stirring occasionally. About 10 minutes. 
  6. Remove the veggies from the pan and toss with crumbled feta cheese. Serve immediately.

Adapted from: Two Lucky Spoons Blog (https://twoluckyspoons.com/sauteed-swiss-chard-and-summer-squash/)


Finally reaching summer temperatures into the upper 80s this week reminds me that although the plants love the sun and heat, they can become stressed under very hot conditions during a heat wave. Large shifts in temperature, such as 70 degrees one day to 90 degrees the next day, can be particularly stressful for the plants, causing them to bolt or stop flowering. There are steps you can take, however, to reduce the stress of the heat on your plants. In the video below from MIgardener, he shares five ways to keep your garden stress free during a heat wave. This includes watering in the morning, densely planting, not fertilizing, harvesting right before the heat comes, and using a shade cloth. Check out more of the details by watching below! 

Lastly, if you want to help me tackle the weeds and help me with other tasks to care for the garden this summer, please sign up via the link below! We have two shifts per week on Mondays and Thursdays from 10am-12pm. I would love to see you there! 

https://www.signupgenius.com/go/8050e48a4a62ea0f85-creekside

Have a great day!

References: https://draxe.com/swiss-chard-nutrition/

https://www.growveg.com/guides/swiss-chard-rainbow-colours-for-your-plate/

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