Swiss Chard – Garden vegetable and ornamental plant

I switched from celery to growing Swiss chard in the garden for several reasons. It’s a little easier to grow and can be started directly in the garden where in my Zone 5 growing area I usually need to buy celery transplants.

The first year I grew swiss chard we had a very mild winter. I also didn’t clean the garden up like I should have. So I was pleasantly surprised to see the card was growing back and I would have a very early spring crop.

The next year I grew the multi- colored stemmed chard along with the white chard. I thought the colors would be fun in salads and veggie platters. I also realized that year that chard is a very decorative plant and it would be nice mixed in with flowers and herbs.

How to grow Chard

  • Chard prefers well-drained soil that’s rich in organic matter and high in nitrogen, with a pH of 6.0 to 6.8
  • You will probably need to work well-composted manure into the soil to boost its nitrogen level
  • The manure must be well rotted or your shards roots will burn from the acid content of the manure
  • Choose a site that gets full sun (partial shade in hot regions).
  • Either start the chard in pots 3 to 4 weeks before the last frost or plant directly in the soil one to two weeks before the lat frost is expected in your area.
  • Sow seeds directly into the ground one to two weeks before the last expected frost. In mild climates you can also plant in autumn for winter and early-spring harvests.
  • Sow seeds 1/2 inch deep and four inches apart. They will germinate in about a week if the soil temperature is 60 degrees F. I cover my seedlings at night with plastic to hold in heat and help the seeds sprout faster.
  • Thin the plants when they’re about 6 inches tall leaving eight inches between the plants.

Helpful suggestions

Chard will use about an inch of water a week. They will bolt or go to flower if they do not get enough water. I sink a cut off small plastic pop bottle into the ground to help direct the water to the plants roots where it is needed the most.
If you mulch the ground around the plants the ground will not dry out as fast and the soil will stay hold moisture better. Mulch also suppresses weeds so will save you time in the garden

About one month after planting, water the plants with plant food, manure tea or compost tea. I myself prefer the teas.
Tips and trivia

  • Begin harvesting single leaves when they’re 5 to 6 inches long. They are more tender and tasty when young.
  • If you harvest the plants regularly they will produce new growth at the center and not be so apt to bolt.
  • If the plants begin the form a flower trim it off. Plants that flower become tough, stringy and bitter.
  • Frost will burn chard plants. Cover if you have a frost warning in your area.
  • George Washington grew chard at Mount Vernon
  • Europeans have used chard since the time of Aristotle.
  • Swiss chard was first grown in Sicily
  • Swiss chard is most popular in the Mediterranean.
  • Swiss chard is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, and also contains potassium and fiber.
  • The leaves can be smooth or curly and are attached to fleshy, crunchy white, red or yellow celery-like stalks.

Swiss chard is an extremely versatile crop that can be grown in cool or warm climates. In a warm climate it’s best to grow it in partial shade. It has a mild sweet yet slightly bitter flavor. Some have likened the taste to beet greens. You can use it raw or cooked and many people stir-fry it.

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6 responses to “Swiss Chard – Garden vegetable and ornamental plant”

  1. Jane

    I love swiss chard, love the look of it and love it on my plate with salt and pepper and a little olive oil…steamed ever so gently…mmm…one of my favourite vegetables!! Is it very hard to grow? My garden is limited in size actually I have to take a few bushes out to grow some useful plants. I love to grow herbs and veggies but its a major overhaul of the garden beds around the pool area. I would love to grow basil, thyme, and sage for starters…any pointers? Thanks a bunch !! so to speak…lolol.

  2. admin

    Swiss chard is exceptionally easy to grow. Just keep it picked down for tender leaves and stalks. It likes water once a week if its dry and I had no bug or pest problems in my garden with this plant.
    I like trying to grow a lot on small spaces. Less work weeding and watering!
    Shard makes a great garden border and I often mix it in with other plants and flowers. It grow well in containers and pots too.
    I would seroiusly think about starting your herbs in pots or containers. It will give you a chance to get used to the herb plants and their needs as plants and to remove plants in your yard at a slow pace. ) Basil is another on of my favorite herbs and so easy to grow! Denise

  3. Julie

    Chard seems dummy proof and a good choice for someone new to growing vegetables like myself. I am going to plant some in a very large container in North sun and want to plant annual flowers among them. Any suggestions for which flowers to choose?

  4. Swiss chard is easy to grow. Marigolds, calendula, nastursiums, and other herbs would look nice by the chard. Really any flower wold do well but I would pick a small to medium height variety. Denise

  5. Eric

    I have been growing Swiss Chard my whole life , I am only 31 but my family is from the beautiful island of Sicily and every where I went for family get togethers it was there. And ALL of my relatives grew it. It’s easy to grow , hearty against insects, and tastes GREAT when boiled and seasoned with salt and olive oil ( leave some of the water in the mixture too). I have even grown it indoors to satisfy my cravings in the winter. So to all who are curious I’d say you have NOTHING to lose and A LOT to gain!

  6. Denise

    I agree its a great vegetable. I usually have some growing indoors in the winter months too. Denise

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