NZH Bright Lights or Rainbow Chard was bred by NZ amateur plant breeder John Eaton in 1977 when he found red and yellow stemmed plants in a home garden in Lower Hutt and crossed them with the standard green and white stemmed varieties of the time. He sent the new line to Johnny’s Selected Seeds in USA, and they have continued to maintain the variety. Originally chard comes from a wild cultivar called sea beet (B. maritima), found growing along the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts of Europe and North Africa. This plant is stunning as an ornamental as well as edible with the main stem colours of yellow, gold, pink and crimson and secondary colours of pink/white striped, orange, scarlet, purple, white and green. The leaves contain high levels of the vitamins C, K, E, beta-carotene as well as manganese and zinc. A bolt-resistant variety which flourishes in spring, autumn and winter. Best to protect from birds in the cooler months, as the leaves provide valuable feed for them if they are allowed to feast on them. We love to sauté the stems first and then add the leaves with a bit of olive oil, garlic and salt.
Sow in trays in September-October for spring and summer production. Prick out to 4cm diagonal spacing. Transplant into fertile ground at 40cm diagonal spacing. Repeat sowing in January-February for constant supply.