Deep green, slightly folded leaves, and a colorful stem is how you can identify this tasty vegetable. If you’re wondering how ‘Swiss’ got added to its chard name, it was determined and named by a Swiss botanist. Swiss was added in the 19th century to differentiate it from the French chard.
The Swiss chard is similar to spinach, kale, and beet plants. It is crunchier than spinach but tender than kale. Even though chard is a cold-weather plant, it is one of the few veggies that do well in warmer climates. Its ability to tolerate warmer weather is mostly grown as a substitute for spinach in the summer. Its brightly colored stalks bring a whimsical look to your garden.
Swiss chard does not ship well, so it may be challenging to find it in your local garden stores. What do you do now? Grow your Swiss chard. The Swiss chard is relatively easy to grow and maintain, so it shouldn’t be too much of a hassle. It can be grown in containers or raised garden beds.
It can also be grown indoors by windows receiving a fair amount of sunlight. Remember, you want the light and not the sun’s heat, so place the plant a little distance away from the window glass; I’ve made it even more straightforward with this chard growing guide. Before then, let’s look at a few Swiss chard varieties.
Swiss Chard Varieties
There are several Swiss chard varieties you can grow in your garden. These varieties are often differentiated by stem color and flavor even though more than one type can have the same stalk color. You’ll find stalk colors in pink, red, white, green, yellow, and a few others.
- Rhubarb Chard
This variety looks like rhubarb. It has a deep red stem and green leaves. The matured leaves are tasty when cooked in soups while baby leaves are excellent in a salad with their crunchy feel. A mature plant can grow up to 24 inches tall, and it takes about 60 days to mature.
Peppermint is an open-pollinated type that has a white stem with reddish coloration. It can also grow up to 24 inches tall just like the rhubarb chard, but the peppermint matures slightly faster in 55 days. Their broad green leaves are an excellent addition to stir-fries.
Lucullus is a chard variety named after a Roman emperor. Its stalks are broad and thick with a white or light green coloration while its large dark green leaves have a mild flavor. It can grow up to 20 inches in height and matures in less than 55 days.
- Bright Lights
As the name implies, this variety comes in several colorful hues like pink, yellow, white, orange, and gold. Sometimes erroneously referred to as the rainbow chard because of the different colors it has. This variety creates beautiful scenery in your garden alongside you, enjoying its mild flavor. It takes between 55 to 60 days to mature and grows up to 20 inches in height.
Uses of the Swiss Chard
The Swiss chard is tasty, but what exactly can it be used for, and what nutrients can you get consuming chard? Here are a few.
- Baby plants are great additions to salads
- Can be used in stir-fries and soups
- It is rich in vitamins A, C and especially K
- It is a good source of magnesium and potassium
- Can be paired with sweet onions and garlic
Even though the Swiss chard is relatively easy to grow, it still needs an optimum condition to thrive. Which states are ideal for this vegetable?
- Well-drained soil. Chard needs well-drained soil to grow into the excellent plant you love.
- It can thrive in full or partial sun, which means it can be grown even under large trees.
- It needs soil rich in nutrients, especially nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
When to Plant Swiss Chard
When it comes to growing veggies, questions like when to plant and what is the planting season are bound to arise. Now, let’s put that to rest.
Swiss chard is a cool-season plant even though it can thrive in warmer weather. It grows well during the cold temperatures of the spring and fall. Plant chard seeds 2 to 3 weeks before the last spring frost date so the seeds can germinate. If you want to harvest during the fall, you should plant the seeds 40 days before the first fall frost.
How Long to Grow?
It takes between 55 to 60 days for the average chard plant to mature. Depending on varieties, some may take longer or shorter to mature. Also, it’ll take longer to grow if you’re planting during the summer. You can even start enjoying your plant before this time by removing the outer tender leaves and using it for salad.
Get ready for planting by following these preparation steps.
- Select a Suitable Location
As stated among the growing conditions for chard vegetables, it needs a suitable location where it can receive a lot of sunlight and a site with loose,well-drained soil. Select the best place in your garden.
- Clear and Till the Land
After choosing the location, it is time to clear the land of weeds and dirt. Depending on your farm’s size, you can go manually to the ground with hoe and rake. This will help to loosen the soil.
- Add Manure
Work in manure into the ground using your rake and allow it to sit for some weeks. Waste, like blood meal, is good for the growth of the chard plant.
- Buy Seeds
You need to purchase the variety of Swiss chard you want to grow. Your local garden store will be an excellent place to start as they can advise you on your region’s favored species.
How to Plant and Grow Chard?
Here’s how to plant the Swiss chard
Make shallow drills in the soil and produce your favorite chard seed variety about 1.5cm deep. Sow the seeds 12 inches apart or closer if you want to thin later. Cover the bases with soil and water generously, pay attention not to overwater the area and make it soggy.
You can also plant the seeds in pots and keep them indoors. When planting in pots, fill the container with a sterilized potting mix. Plant the seeds in batches every two weeks for a more extended harvest.
How to Care for Chard?
Swiss Chard is a relatively easy plant to grow apart from doing a few things; you wait to enjoy your veggie. Here are the few things to do
- Water Generously
Like all leafy vegetables, enough water is necessary to produce a sweet and healthy plant. Water between 1.5 to 2 inches deep every week; make sure not to leave standing water.
- Apply fertilizer
Apply a slow-release fertilizer to boost the growth of this vegetable and increase the harvest.
- Thin when Necessary
If you planted the seeds close to each other then, you’ll need to think some of the plants out to create space for the others. The distance of 12 inches between plants is ideal.
Remove weed from the site whenever they sprout to keep the area clean and reduce pest and disease attack.
Your plant should be ready for harvest 55 days after planting the seed. You can even start enjoying this veggie 35 days after planting the grain by removing the tender leaves and using them for salad. Tender leaves have more flavor and are crunchier.
This plant continues to produce leaves when you cut them throughout the growing season. Pick the leaves when the weather is cold, ideally in the morning or evening. Make clean cuts on the stalks about an inch from the plant base.
After the growing season around fall, when frost is by the corner, you can transplant the chard indoors or entirely cut the plant’s remaining stem. You can also use floating row covers to keep the plant warm and take your growing season right into the winter.
Pests and Diseases
It would help if you were on the lookout for pests and diseases in your Swiss chard farm.
- Flea beetle
- Leaf miner
- Curly top disease
- Fungi conditions
- Root rot
You’ve seen it all. This plant is a fun one to grow even more when enjoying it with family from planting to harvesting. If you’re a leafy vegetable lover, the Swiss chard is an excellent plant to grow in the summer when most other vegetables must have died out.