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How to Grow Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard is a prolific, easy to grow garden vegetable. It is a member of the beet family. Both the leaves and the stalks are edible. Swiss Chard is rich in vitamins and minerals. The leaves can be used as a fresh salad, or cooked like spinach. The stalks are cut up and cooked in a variety of dishes.

Hardy Swiss Chard tolerates poor soil, and withstands frost and mild freezes. Planted early in the spring, it can be harvested from spring until late fall. In mid-summer, leaves can become a little bitter. Their are two varieties, one with a reddish stalk. A second variety has a creamy white stalk. Both tastes the same.

How to Grow Swiss Chard:

Grow Swiss Chard in full sun to partial shade. They grow in average to poor soils. Prior to planting, mix in plenty of compost. Plants will tolerate slightly dry soil. They prefer cool weather.

Plant Swiss Chard as soon as the soil can be worked. It will sprout fairly early, and will not be harmed by spring frosts. One planting will last the entire season.

For an even earlier crop, start a few seedlings indoors. Transplant them outdoors when the night temperatures go down to a minimum of 30 degrees.

Sow seeds 1/2 to 1 inch apart, in rows three feet apart. Thin seedlings to two to three inches apart. The plants tolerate a little crowding.

Applying fertilizer once a month will increase production.

Keep soil moist to slightly dry. Mulch around plants to keep weeds down, and to help retain soil moisture. To minimize the bitter mid-summer taste, make sure the plants get plenty of water.

Plants will grow quickly in cooler spring and fall weather. If the patch grows faster than you can consume it, thin out the largest leaves and stalks. New growth will quickly emerge.

In cool weather, the leaves are their tastiest. Swiss Chard tolerates frost and freezes. If a freeze kills off the outer leaves, the inner leaves may be protected. Cut away any frost damaged leaves.

Try stretching the long season even more with a cold frame.

Harvesting:


Days to Maturity: About four to six weeks to pick the first leaves.

You can harvest the leaves regardless of size. Pick the outer leaves and the new inner leaves will soon grow in their place. The inner leaves are most tender and tasty, and are slightly blanched.

Harvest stalks when they are at least 12'" long. younger, shorter stalks are more tender and  less stringy.

Insects, Pests, and Disease:


Aphids and other sucking insects can be a problem. For home gardeners, we do not recommend sprays. This plant is such a prolific producer, that you can usually afford to discard affected leaves.

Deer eat Swiss Chard. This is most common in the fall , when other food sources are gone.

Swiss Chard is resistant to most plant diseases. One planting will almost always last the season.

More Information:

Garden Recipes - Find Swiss Chard recipes and garden recipes galore!

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