'Banerjee's Giant' Chard
Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris
Origin: West Bengal, India
Improvement status: Cultivar
Seeds per packet: ~30
Germination tested 12/2023: 85%
Life cycle: Annual
'Banerjee's Giant' is a large-leafed annual chard that's become a popular variety in India, where it was bred. Its parents are an imported sugar beet and a local West Bengali chard variety. This variety has large green leaves with a succulent white stem. Some plants might produce tasty roots too. It's used in India in many of the same dishes in which one might use spinach, to the point that chards (including the local type used to breed this one) are often referred to as spinach ("palak") in India. As mentioned, this is an annual chard — most are biennial — which makes it much easier for seed farmers like us to produce a good seed crop, with no need for overwintering.
We got our stock seed from the USDA's National Plant Germplasm System. These seeds were grown for us by our friends Corrie and Jose Spellman-Lopez in Vineland, New Jersey.
NOTE: We failed to get a good photo of this chard, so the attached photo is of a similar variety. Next time we offer this we promise to have an accurate photo!
GROWING TIPS: Direct-sow around last-frost date or start in flats a few weeks earlier. Some seeds contain multiple embryos, so you may attempt to divide these once they get big enough to break apart from each other. Space plants a foot apart for maximum leaf production. Harvest leaves continually to delay bolting, but bolting should come within a few months of planting.