Botanical name: Beta vulgaris
Plant type: Vegetable
Soil type: Loamy
Bloom time: Summer
Chard is a member of the beet family that does well in both cool and warm temperatures. It can be cooked or used raw in salads and is high in vitamins A and C.
- Plant chard seeds 2 to 3 weeks before the last spring frost date. Continue planting seeds at 10-day intervals for a month.
- For a fall harvest, plant chard seeds again about 40 days before the first fall frost date.
- Before planting, mix 1 cup of 5-10-10 fertilizer into the soil for every 20 feet of single row.
- Plant the seeds 1/2 to 3/4 of inch deep in well-drained, rich, light soil. Space the seeds about 18 inches apart in single rows or 10 to 18 inches apart in wide rows. Sow eight to ten seeds per foot of row.
- When the plants are 3 to 4 inches tall, thin them out so that they are 4 to 6 inches apart or 9 to 12 inches apart if the plants are larger.
- Water the plants evenly to help them grow better. Water often during dry spells in the summer. You can also mulch the plants to help conserve moisture.
- For the best quality, cut the plants back when they are about 1 foot tall. If the chard plants become overgrown, they lose their flavor.
- You can start harvesting when the plants are 6 to 8 inches tall. Cut off the outer leaves 1-1/2 inches above the ground with a sharp knife.
- If you harvest the leaves carefully, new leaves will grow and provide another harvest.
- You can cut the ribs off the chard leaves and cook them like asparagus.
- The rest of the leaves are eaten as greens. You can cook them like spinach or eat them raw.
- You can store chard in the refrigerator in ventilated plastic bags.
- 'Lucullus', which is heat tolerant.
- 'Ruby', which can be a beautiful addition to your garden due to its bright red stems.
- 'Bright Lights', which has multicolored stems.