Friday, January 17, 2020

Perpetual Spinach or Chard

For years I had been looking in the seed catalogue at something that looked quite delicious: Perpetual Spinach, leaf beet, or perpetual chard. This vegetable appealed a lot to me because of the opportunity to grow something that tastes like spinach, but grows like chard. Chard, or beet leaves, have always been easier for me to grow than spinach. Chard has a lot more holding capacity in the summer than spinach and can be a lot less fussy over the winter.

With all these wonderful things being said about chard, it would be a pointless to talk to someone who has not grown this variety to go into detail about this vegetable without describing the taste. What most vegetable gardeners want to know before growing something is: is it likely that I'll enjoy consuming this? 

So here's how I'll put it: If you like both chard and spinach, you’ll love perpetual spinach. If you really like chard, you’ll like this leaf vegetable in salads. However, if you don’t like chard at all, you’ll probably want to limit your picking of this variety to tender leaves around 3 inches long or less. If the temperature rises too high or the leaves get too long, then the chalky chard texture and copper/iron metallic taste can overpower the pleasant spinach taste or tender crisp quality of the leaves.

Take away: If you want the longest season of this vegetable for salads, your best bet is in the fall. This will mean that the leaves grow slowly for maximum use of smaller leaves for salads. Once the heat sets in and the leaves grow quite a lot, this variety is better cooked.

Another alternative: In the spring, transplant perennial spinach into areas that will receive plenty of shade, while still having airflow. With ample shade, this variety remains tender longer and, if spaced properly with adequate airflow, will develop healthy stands of leaves for salads and, as the temperatures rise, for cooking or juicing. Yum!


  1. Hi Jay,

    This is the first year that I've avoided growing beets and Swiss chard. Last year I grew Swiss Chard mostly as an ornamental. I tried the leaves and it had a horrible fishy odor. In previous years, Swiss chard has had an acceptable flavor, but spinach is still better. As for beets, I've found that they don't really grow well in my area. They grow very slowly and end up tiny and woody, much slower than nearby turnips. I've mostly moved onto brassicas as my spinach substitute. Senposai Komatsuna/mustard spinach has really shined this winter, being more tender than lacinato kale, albeit slower growing. The club and I have enjoyed huge senposai leaves in salads from our veggie harvests.

    - Nathan

    1. My friend is trying Magdalena Acelgas from Native Seeds SEARCH, but maybe I should perpetual spinach as a comparison.

    2. Interesting. Senposai Komatsuna mustard. How spicy is that?

  2. Interesting. The Magdalena Acelgas looks very much like perennial chard/spinach.


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