When dieticians talk about leafy green vegetables, Swiss chard is at the top of the list. Related to beets (and sometimes called leaf beet), Swiss chard as nutritious as spinach and easier to grow. One cup of chard has 300 times the recommended daily amount of vitamin K. It’s also an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and E as well as magnesium, manganese, potassium, iron, and dietary fiber.
Swiss Chard Varieties
Swiss chard comes with stalks and leaves that are reddish, yellowish, or green. Mixed seeds make a beautiful display. However, since different-colored varieties have different rates of growth it is easier to harvest a monochrome patch than a mixed one. Try these varieties: Five Color Silverbeet, Oriole Orange, and Fordhook Giant.
Swiss Chard Planting and Care
Swiss chard is one of the easiest crops to grow. Rich, well-drained soil in a sunny location is ideal, but chard will produce a good crop even in light shade and in poorer soil. 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.
Sow them one-half inch deep and three inches apart, Thin seedling so they stand ten inches apart. Mulch to maintain moisture and keep weeds down.
Swiss chard is a versatile garden plant. In addition to growing it in rows in a vegetable garden you can tuck individual plants in an ornamental garden. Chard is attractive enough to hold its own in the midst of flowering annuals and perennials. It is also a fine container plant.
Swiss Chard Pests and Diseases
Insects and diseases rarely bother Swiss chard. If aphids infest older leaves just discard the leaves. Slugs chew holes in chard leaves; you can control the slugs with shallow pans of beer sunk to ground level or non-toxic iron phosphate slug bait. A fence is your best bet for keeping deer from consuming your crop in late summer or fall.
Swiss Chard Harvesting
The stalks and leaves of Swiss chard are ready to harvest four-to-six weeks from sowing. It’s a “cut and come again” crop, which means you can harvest it over and over. Pick the outer leaves and stalks first and let the inner ones mature. Snap or cut the stalks off near the soil line.
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.
Want to learn more about growing Swiss chard?
See these following sources:
Growing Swiss Chard from Mother Earth News.
Growing Swiss Chard from Horticulture Magazine.
Chard from the University of Illinois.