A versatile vegetable valued for its crispy, vitamin-rich leaves, asparagus-like ribs, Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris subsp. .
Growing Swiss Chard Plants
Plant Swiss chard in the spring, 2 to 4 weeks before the last frost date.Get your growing season off to a great start by mixing in several inches of aged compost or other rich organic matter into your native soil.Harvest Swiss chard any time the leaves are large enough to eat.Apply organic mulch such as compost, finely ground leaves, wheat straw, or finely ground bark to keep the soil cool and moist and to keep down weeds.Mulching will also help keep the plant leaves clean, reducing the risk of disease. .
How to Grow Swiss Chard
When dietitians talk about leafy green vegetables, Swiss chard is at the top of the list.Sow chard seeds directly in the garden in spring when the soil reaches 50 degrees F, or about two weeks before the last frost date.A fence is your best bet for keeping deer from consuming your crop in late summer or fall.Swiss chard tolerates light frost, so you can harvest inner leaves through November even in northern climates.With a season extender, cold frame, row cover, or greenhouse you can grow and harvest Swiss chard into the winter.If you started the seeds indoors in a container, you will need to transplant the seedlings when it is time to move them outdoors.When consumed in excess, oxalic acid can cause symptoms such as abdominal discomfort, convulsions or tremors, low blood pressure, kidney stones, vomiting, and weak pulse.Because blanching takes literally a few minutes, it’s recommended to freeze Swiss chard before you store it to avoid these risks.Freezing your homegrown Swiss chard stops the action of the enzymes that can cause the greens to become bitter while they’re being stored in the freezer.To harvest Swiss chard correctly, pick the leaves by snapping the stem right at the base of the plant.If you are sowing your own seeds, you can get quite an early head start outdoors as they thrive on colder temperatures.If you want to get an early start on growing Swiss chard, sow seeds indoors and move them outside as temperatures begin to warm up.Soak seeds for 15 minutes in cold water prior to planting to speed up germination.If growing Swiss chard from seed, the time from planting to harvest is 55 to 65 days.Don’t allow the leaves to grow bigger than 10 inches long, as they will begin to taste earthy and bitter.It’s unlikely that you will accidentally consume enough Swiss chard to be problematic, but eating more than seven pounds per day of this leafy green can cause health problems.The oxalic acid that provides chard with its bitter, earthy flavor can also cause symptoms including abdominal discomfort, convulsions or tremors, low blood pressure, kidney stones, vomiting, and weak pulse if you consume too much of it.Like all garden vegetables, Swiss chard performs best when provided with a regular source of water.Swiss chard isn’t just tasty—it’s nutritious, too, with lots of health benefits when you make it part of your regular diet.Swiss chard is a very hardy plant, which can endure hot and cold weather with relative ease.Swiss chard can even stand a bit of neglect on your part, and tends to bounce back easily from less than optimal growing conditions.Swiss chard isn’t just acceptable for dogs to eat—it’s a healthy part of our canine friends’ diet.This leafy green provides dogs with calcium, iron, potassium, and a dose of vitamins A, C, and K.When consumed in moderation (as most of us are likely to do under usual circumstances), Swiss chard is a delicious and healthy part of the diet.This potential downfall is due to the oxalic acid that gives the greens their signature bitter, earthy flavor.Getting more than your fair share of oxalic acid can result in symptoms including abdominal discomfort, convulsions or tremors, low blood pressure, kidney stones, vomiting, and weak pulse.Although plenty of plants make good neighbors for Swiss chard in the garden, there are some varieties you should watch out for. .
Chard is a biennial plant, meaning it has a two year life cycle, but it is cultivated as an annual in the vegetable garden and harvested in its first season of growth.Chard provides plenty of nutrition and good taste, along with more heat tolerance than many kinds of greens, so it’s a popular choice for gardeners across the county.Some varieties of chard have colorful stems that contrast with its broad green leaves, making it a great choice for edible landscaping, where edible plants are combined with ornamental ones to add beauty and interest to the landscape instead of relegating them to a strictly utilitarian vegetable bed.In warm climates, light shade during the hottest part of the day is helpful in extending the spring harvest season.Except in the warmest areas, make succession plantings every few weeks up until about 2 months before your average fall frost date.In the warmest parts of the country, make early spring and late summer to fall sowings.Seedlings sprout in clusters; so no matter how carefully you space out the seeds at planting time, you’ll still need to do some thinning.Make sure plants have a consistent supply of moisture throughout the growing season, especially when the weather turns warm.Adult flies lay eggs in leaves that hatch out into larvae that feed within the leaf tissue, creating visible winding tunnels. .
Grow Swiss Chard
Swiss chard and beets are the same species, and they require a period of overwintering in order to set seeds.Downy mildew can be a problem for Swiss chard when grown close together as baby greens.Birds also enjoy the leaves, but protecting new seedlings under row covers can deter them.Swiss chard can also be harvested in closer plantings as baby greens, cutting the leaves about 3 inches above the soil and returning every week or so.At seed maturity, plants of this species take up a fair amount of garden real estate.Depending on the scale of seed collection, individual seedstalks can be cut or entire plants can be pulled from the garden and moved to a place where they can continue drying.Depending on the percentage of ripe seeds at harvest, 7 to 14 days should be a sufficient drying period.Small lots and cut branches can be processed by running a gloved hand along the length of the stalk with a container placed underneath to catch dislodged seeds; stalks should be discarded once they are stripped of seeds.Larger lots and whole plants can be placed in large tubs or on tarps and treaded upon.When stored under cool, dry conditions, beet seeds can be expected to remain viable for 5 years. .
How Do I Grow Swiss Chard
Swiss chard is a leafy green vegetable that’s renowned for its nutritional value, and it’s popular with gardeners because it is so easy to grow.You can also download my How Do I Grow Swiss Chard one-sheet and keep the free resource handy for your reference.Also known as silverbeet, spinach beet, leaf beet or simply, chard, Swiss chard is a wonderful addition to soup, dip and baked dishes, and it can be sauteed in oil with garlic for a side or a warm salad.For earlier harvests, Swiss chard may be started indoors three to four weeks before the last frost date.The air movement will prevent damping off disease, a fungus that is fatal to newly sprouted seedlings.Hardening off is the process of gradually introducing plants to the outdoor environment and the intensity of the sun.Swiss chard performs best in full sun but will also tolerate a little shade.The soil should be well drained and amended with plenty of organic matter, namely compost.Space the seeds or seedlings out so that the plants will not touch one another once they have reached full size.Having grown this variety for years, I’m always amazed at how carefree and beautiful it is in the garden and on the plate.It’s like a painting with all the range of stem colors from red, orange, pink, yellow and white, all in one crop.The leaves are ready to harvest in 23 to 35 days from transplanting, and the plants have a good degree of disease resistance.Perpetual is an open-pollinated chard that has tasty, smooth leaves that taste like spinach and are ready to harvest in 50 days.Rhubard is a chard variety that is so named because it has thick red stalks like rhubarb.Like most vegetables, Swiss chard requires an inch of water per week.A drip irrigation system works well to ensure Swiss chard gets the moisture it needs for consistent growth.Just make sure that if using a fish fertilzer on chard that the first number in the NPK ratio is the highest.Swiss chard is largely unbothered by pests and rarely affected by disease.While feeding on plant leaves they excrete honeydew, which attracts ants and other insects.They are easily controlled by knocking them off plants with a sharp stream of water or insecticidal soap.Another strategy is to plant a trap crop of radishes, which flea beetles prefer over most anything else.For a severe infestation, a bait like Sluggo, which contains iron phosphate, is a safe, organic option.Avoid overhead watering that creates a welcoming environment for fungal spores.Read my comprehensive guide Powdery Mildew Prevention & Control for more information.The younger leaves are great in a salad or eaten like beet greens or spinach.Cut the young plants an inch above the ground with sharp scissors or garden shears and they’ll continue to grow over and over.Swiss chard is best enjoyed the same day it was cut, but it can be stored, unwashed, in an unsealed plastic bag for up to a week.Sign up to receive gardening resources, eBooks and email updates on the joegardener podcast and more.None of the items included in this list have any bearing on any compensation being an influencing factor on their inclusion here.The selection of all items featured in this post and podcast were based solely on merit and in no way influenced by any affiliate or financial incentive, or contractual relationship.At the time of this writing, Joe Lamp’l has professional relationships with the following companies who may have products included in this post and podcast: Rain Bird, Corona Tools, Milorganite, Soil3, Exmark, Greenhouse Megastore, High Mowing Organic Seeds, Territorial Seed Company, Wild Alaskan Seafood Box and TerraThrive. .
How to Grow Chard
Sow chard in the garden 2 to 4 weeks after all frost has passed in spring.To get an early start, sow chard indoors as early as 3 to 4 weeks before the average last frost date in spring for transplanting out when plants are 3 to 4 inches (7-10cm) tall.Chard is a member of the beet family grown for its rosette of large, crinkly green leaves on thick red or white stalks.Plants can grow to 16 inches tall and leaves and stalks can be harvested several times over the course of a season on a cut-and-come-again schedule.Sow chard in the garden 2 to 4 weeks after all frost has passed in spring.To get an early start, sow chard indoors as early as 3 to 4 weeks before the average last frost date in spring for transplanting out when plants are 3 to 4 inches (7-10cm) tall.Cut the weaker seedlings off at soil level with small scissors.Crowded plants may tend to bolt and go to seed more quickly.In larger containers, set chard in wide rows on 8-inch (20cm) centers.Keep chard evenly moist for quick, tender growth.Prepare planting beds with well-aged compost in advance of sowing.Side dress chard with aged compost at midseason.Avoid growing chard with legumes, potatoes, or tomatoes.Control aphids by pinching out the affected leaves or hose them away with a blast of water.Harvest chard on a cut-and-come-again schedule; remove a few outside leaves at a time. .