Swiss chard is one of those garden crops that grace the table and add beauty to the floral beds, herb gardens and anywhere you plant this ornamental vegetable. This is one of my favorite plants and is very easy to grow.
First choose a site that gets full sun. You will want partial shade in hot regions so that you plant will not suffer from too much sun. Swiss chard prefers well-drained soil that’s rich in organic matter and high in nitrogen. If your not sure of your soil conditions you can test the soil by buying one of the soils testing kits available in most garden centers. For a higher nitrogen rate you will need to add well-composted manure into the soil.
Sow the seeds directly into the ground one to two weeks before the last expected frost. Plant the seeds 1/2 inch deep and four inches apart. They should germinate in about a week if the soil temperature is around 60 degrees F.
Thin the plants when they’re about six inches tall. The plants will transplant easily so I either move the plants or give them to a neighbor. You will want to leave eight inches between plants. You can leave less space if you plan to pick leaves often or if you are using the plants for ornamental planting.
You will want to mulch the chard to control weeds and more importantly to keep the soil cool and conserve moisture.
Provide an inch of water a week, especially in hot weather. Plants that do not get the proper amount of water are prone to flower and go to seed prematurely. This causes the stalks and leaves to become fibrous and bitter. If you notice flower stalk appearing, clip it off to prolong the harvest.
You can begin harvesting single leaves when they’re five to six inches long. This is one of those plants that the more you harvest the more leaves they produce.
Swiss chard is a heavy producer and therefore a heavy feeder. I water my plants about four weeks after planting with manure tea to give them a boost and provide the extra nutrients they need.
You can plant the regular white Swiss chard or the chard that is multi colored in red and yellow. I like color and fun in my gardens so I plant both varieties.
This plant is also a plant that I grow indoors during the late winter and early spring. It grows well in a pot and it’s wonderful to enjoy fresh vegetables before my Zone 5 gardening season begins.