Growing Swiss Chard

Planting, Growing, and Harvesting Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard

Swiss chard—or simply “chard”—is a member of the beet family that does well in both cool and warm temperatures. Here’s how to grow Swiss chard in your garden!

Swiss chard is best known for its bright and colorful stems, which come in a rainbow of hues. Chard can be served cooked or raw, and is high in vitamins A and C. 

Planting

When to Plant Swiss Chard

  • Swiss chard is typically grown as a cool-season crop because it grows best in the cooler temperatures of spring and fall. However, chard is actually very tolerant of hotter temperatures, too. Its growth will slow down in summer, but chard’s higher heat tolerance makes it a great salad green to grow when it gets too hot out for others.
  • Plant chard seeds 2 to 3 weeks before the last spring frost date. To extend your harvest, plant additional chard seeds at 10-day intervals for a month.
  • For a fall harvest, plant chard seeds about 40 days before the first fall frost date.

How to Plant Swiss Chard

  • Ensure that your soil is well-draining and rich by mixing in compost before planting. If your soil is particularly poor, apply a balanced fertilizer (10-10-10) to the planting site. 
  • Sow the seeds ½ to 1 inch deep, spacing them 2 to 4 inches apart in a row.
  • Space rows about 18 inches apart.

Swiss chard

Care

How to Grow Swiss Chard

  • Once the plants reach 3 to 4 inches tall, thin them out so that they are 6 to 8 inches apart (or 9 to 12 inches apart if you desire larger plants).
  • Chard usually does just fine without the use of fertilizer, but if yours seems to be staying small, consider applying a balanced fertilizer halfway through the season.
  • Water Swiss chard evenly and consistently to help it 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.

Pests/Diseases

Harvest/Storage

How to Harvest Swiss Chard

  • You can start harvesting when the plants are 6 to 8 inches tall, depending on which size leaves you desire. Cut off the outer leaves 1-½ inches above the ground with a sharp knife.
  • Use the “cut and come again” harvesting technique, taking the largest, oldest leaves and leaving the young ones to continue growing. Provided you harvest carefully, the 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.
  • Store Swiss chard in the refrigerator in ventilated plastic bags.

Recommended Varieties

Wit & Wisdom

Embrace your leafy greens! Learn more about the health benefits of going green!

Recipes

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Growing Swiss Chard

Botanical Name Beta vulgaris
Plant Type Vegetable
Sun Exposure Full Sun, Part Sun
Soil Type Loamy
Soil pH Slightly Acidic to Neutral
Bloom Time Summer
Flower Color
Hardiness Zones 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
Special Features