Growing Swiss Chard: Planting & Care Tips

Swiss chard, a leafy green vegetable, can be grown easily and produces brightly colored edible stems and leaves. Although it is commonly referred to as a leafy vegetable, like spinach and kale varieties, Swiss chard actually belongs to the beet family and is less bitter than most leafy vegetables. This vegetable contains essential vitamins such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Almost anyone can grow Swiss chard by following these great tips and tricks.

Preparation of the Soil for Growing Swiss Chard

Loamy soil rich in organic matter is ideal for growing swiss chard. You can amend your soil by adding well-decomposed compost, worm castings, and other organic soil amendments. By making these amendments, you can make the soil more fertile, making growing swiss chard easier. Swiss chard thrives on slightly acidic soils that range from 6.0 to 7.0 on the pH scale. You can get a soil test kit at your local garden center, or take a sample to your local extension office to test it and modify your soil as needed.

Swiss Chard Plants Need the Perfect Light and Temperature

Choose a spot in your garden that gets at least six hours of sunlight each day before you plant. Swiss chard thrives in full sun, with partial shade. After the danger of frost has passed, chard should be transplanted outside. This cool-season crop can be planted outside once soil temperatures reach 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit. Seeds will germinate well between temperatures of 55 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit; however, germination can be hindered if temperatures surpass this range. Swiss chard is an excellent crop for spring and fall, and if given the right amount of protection by row covers, cold frames, and hoop houses, they can also be a good winter crop.

Sowing Seeds vs. Buying Swiss Chard Plants

Swiss chard can be grown indoors or in a garden bed outside.

  • Swiss chard can be grown indoors up to six weeks before the last frost date, or you can plant the seeds directly in the garden after it passes.
  • You should plant seeds at a depth of 1/2 inch.
  • Transplants offer the possibility of an earlier harvest.
  • Before you transplant, ensure that the seedlings have at least four to six leaves and a distinct root system before you transfer them to your garden bed.

Swiss Chard Plant Spacing

Plant Swiss chard in rows approximately 18 inches apart when you transplant purchased or homegrown seedlings into your garden bed.

Swiss Chard Growing Water & Nutrients

Keep your Swiss chard hydrated by watering your plants often. Organic mulch can also be added to your garden beds to lock in moisture and regulate soil temperature. When the soil is well-drained, it can be amended with organic matter. However, if your soil is not in the best condition, swiss chard plants can benefit from slow-release fertilizer applications upon planting to encourage growth and enhance your plant’s flavor.

Swiss Chard Garden Pests and Disease

Use organic-based strategies for companion planting to keep pests away from your leafy greens.

  • Aphids – To get aphids away from your plants, plant nasturtium near your crops and use your garden hose to spray and kill these garden pests. Aphids love to hide on the undersides of leaves, so spray these areas as well.
  • Leaf Miners — Remove Leaf Miners from your leaves by using their distinctive wavy tracks to locate them, and then use your fingers to squeeze them out of your plants.
  • Slugs – To keep common ground pests such as slugs away from your leafy vegetables, plant swiss chard in a raised garden bed. You can also trap and drown pesky slugs by setting up beer traps near or in your garden.

Harvesting A Swiss Chard Garden

Use the cut-and-return method to harvest swiss chard often.

  • Once swiss chard plants reach the right size, you can remove or cut the most established outer leaves.
  • You can choose from multiple plants at once to encourage more mature leaves for future harvests.
  • Cover plants with cold frames or row covers to extend the season and protect them from frost during winter and fall harvests.

The Best Swiss Chard Plant Variety

Swiss chard is as delicious and healthy as it is beautiful. These delicious varieties of swiss chard will give you nutritious greens.

  • Flamingo’ – Produces pink-reddish leaves with red veins.
  • Peppermint’ – Produces pink and white stripy stems with deep-green billowing leaves.
  • ‘HT0_ Neon Mix’ – Produces bright, showy shoots of yellow and red stems with green leaves.
  • ‘Green Lucullus – Produces bright green leaves with contrast white stems.

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