With the cooler weather setting in, I’m spending less and less time in the garden. Donning gumboots and heading outside is losing the battle against putting my feet up in front of the fire. So any plant that requires minimal attention at this time of year is a winner in my book.
Silverbeet is versatile and is easy to care for. It is the ultimate beginner gardener vegetable. It doesn’t require a lot of maintenance and is quick to mature - making it the perfect vege to plant as the weather packs in.
First, pick up some Awapuni silverbeet seedlings from Bunnings, the Warehouse or your local supermarket when you’re next out.
Once you’ve chosen the perfect spot in your garden, add some compost to the soil and mix well. This will ensure your soil is in top condition for the cooler months ahead.
And, if you want to give your silverbeet a really good head start, add a general fertiliser, such as nitrophoska blue, to the soil prior to planting. This will encourage growth and ensure bountiful silverbeet come harvest.
Once you’ve prepared the soil, dig a hole (approximately 3cms deep), place your seedling inside and cover the roots with soil. Space each seedling 20cms apart. This will ensure room for the silverbeet seedling to expand and grow.
Silverbeet is a great companion plant for vegetables that take longer to mature. If your planting onions, brassicas, celery and/or leeks this winter why not plant silverbeet in the spaces between those veges? The silverbeet will mature first, fully utilising your garden’s space.
Depending on the weather conditions in your area, your silverbeet should be ready for harvest in around four weeks. Silverbeet needs to be harvested before it goes to seed, so pick off the leaves for your meals and salads as needed.
If you harvest more silverbeet than needed why not try making spanakopita - a delicious Greek dish. This recipe is easy to make and will impress the hardiest of food critics.
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees. Cut off the silverbeet’s stems and wash and clean the leaves, then drain and cut the leaves into shreds.
Combine 360g of silverbeet with ½ a cup of chopped parsley, ½ a cup of chopped dill, two cups of finely chopped green onions and one teaspoon of sea salt in a bowl. Let the ingredients stand for approximately 15 minutes, then press out all of the liquid with a spoon.
Heat ¼ of a cup of olive oil in a good quality pan and sauté three cups of roughly chopped onions until transparent. Add the silverbeet mixture and sauté for another three minutes. Add 250g of feta cheese and ¼ teaspoon of ground black pepper to the mix.
Place six filo pastry sheets on the bottom of a buttered baking pan, brushing each sheet with melted butter or raw egg. Add the silverbeet mixture on top and spread into a thick layer. Add the remaining six filo pastry sheets to the top of the mixture, again brushing each sheet with butter or egg.
Bake at 180 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve and enjoy!
Tod Palenski – Awapuni Nurseries