The succulent leaves of Swiss chard can be used much like spinach. You can even use the big ones for wraps like cabbage rolls. The colourful stems can be cooked like asparagus. Enjoy the small leaves in salad. They grow easily and well in our climate and stand in the garden for many months, giving a long harvest from one planting. Continue reading below for some useful tips on how to grow Swiss chard from seed.
Beta vulgaris var. cicla
Season & Zone
Season: Cool season
Exposure: Full sun
Direct sow any time from early spring to mid-summer. Chard is moderately winter hardy and may perform into the following spring where winters are mild. Optimal soil temperature: 10-30°C (50-85°F). Seeds should sprout in 7-14 days.
Sow seeds 1cm (½”) deep, spaced 10-30cm (4-12″) apart in rows 45cm (18″) apart.
Days to Maturity: From direct sowing.
Ideal pH: 6.0-6.5. Swiss chard prefers loose, deep, and fertile soil that is rich in organic matter. Plenty of consistent moisture is required, especially as plants grow larger. It grows best in full sun, but will tolerate light shade in summer. A liquid fertilizer or compost tea applied twice during summer will keep chard growing well.
For salad mix, seed more densely and cut as baby leaves. Cut individual mature stalks using the large outer ones first.
In optimal conditions at least 75% of seeds will germinate. Usual seed life: 3 years. Per 100′ row: 220 seeds, per acre: 64M seeds.
Beans, Brassicas, and onions make the best companions for chard.
More on Companion Planting.