I feel the need to extoll the virtues of chard as it is such a great vegetable for the hungry gap while you wait for the other crops to get started.
It looks good too. Very lush looking leaves and if you invest in the "bright lights" variety http://www.organiccatalogue.com they even add beautiful coloured stems to the garden. They can even be mixed in with the ornamentals for their richly coloured stems and their proud bouncy looking leaves.
They are a biennial and survive our cold winters. So while nothing else is growing in the garden the chard will still be soldiering on. They do prefer a sunny position but if you are short of space they will grow in the more shady areas of your growing space.
For the kitchen, the leaves can be eaten young (when about 2 inch long) in salads or they can be allowed to grow bigger and steamed a la spinach style. In my container garden I am growing them in a rectangular trough and am going for eating them as a salad crop. Every 3 days I have a fresh crop of cut and come again leaves to make into a delicious salad - Now that's what I call reliable!! And they are jam packed with lots and lots of vitamins, even more so if you eat them within minutes of picking. I like to mix them with chopped salad onions. I recently tried them in a fritatta and they worked really well (here's the recipe Fritatta with chard).
They grow incredibly happily in small containers making them a patio gardener's best friend. Last year (the first time I sowed some seeds of chard) I grew them in a recycled portabello mushroom container and they are still growing strong (germination April 2010). This was my first introduction to this eager lush vegetable and I have never been disappointed!
Working on the One Pot Pledge stand for Garden Organic a few weeks ago, children had the choice of potting up rocket or chard and the majority chose to pot the chard to take home with them. So that just goes to show it's not just me, kids love it too!
Some chard recipes:
Chard and Calendula Salad