I would like to know why I get only a couple of pickings off my silverbeet, then I get a big thick stem which grows up from the middle and don’t get much off it from then on. What am I doing wrong?
The Silverbeet you describe has gone to seed – this usually happens when it is grown out of season or the plant has been is affected by the site, soil or lack of maintenance. So long as it is planted at the right time your winter silverbeet should be lasting you until spring.
For successful all year round cropping, you need to do two plantings of silverbeet a year. Plant in April/May for harvesting in July, August, September, October. Then plant your next crop in October/November for harvesting through the summer months - although be sure to keep the plants well watered as stressed plants will bolt to seed.
Preparation is the key to a good crop. Firstly check the position you are planting in and ensure it’s a nice sunny spot that is not too windy or exposed. Check the soil and drainage – it’s important to dig organic matter like compost or blood and bone and mix it in well with your existing soil. This will help with soil structure, drainage, and add nutrients.
A good variety to try is Rainbow Silverbeet (Swiss Chard) – it grows well and adds a pop of colour in your veggie garden. You can also try the Ford Hook variety which has large, dark green leaves.
Silverbeet benefits from an application of vegetable fertiliser in summer. Apply side dressings every 5-6 weeks during the growing season (Oct to April) and avoid fertilising in winter.