Growing Swiss Chard

Chard is a leafy green in the same family as beets and spinach.

The slightly bitter, salty stalks come in a variety of colors. Each color indicates a different phytonutrient available. Young, small leaves have a more mild flavor.

It can be eaten cooked, or raw. I like to eat it in salads and use it in smoothies.

Chard is very easy to grow. Just as easy to grow as lettuce and spinach. The only difference is that chard grows well in both cool and warm temperatures, so there is a greater window of opportunity to grow chard. It even tolerates some frost. It does not bolt in the heat the way lettuce and spinach do.

Chard is easily grown in containers, so it is a great choice for limited space.img_2292

Planting: Chard likes loose, well drained fertile soil. The ph should be close to neutral. Plant in full sun. Chard will tolerate part shade especially if grown in the heat of summer.

Soaking seeds for 15-20 minutes in warm water may speed up germination. Plant seeds directly into garden 1/2″ deep about 6 inches apart. Seeds can also be started indoors. I usually start them indoors and transplant them outside with they have a few leaves. Plant these about 12″ apart. Chard grows fairly big. If you plan on harvesting young leaves you can plant them closer.

Keep the plants well watered. They grow large with lots of surface area.

Pests: There really aren’t many pests that bother chard.

Harvest: Cut outer leaves to keep the plant producing.  You can also cut the whole plant a few inches from the ground. A new set of leaves will continue growing.

I usually harvest in the morning the day I’m going to eat it. It is nice and fresh. Wash the soil from the nooks and crannies. Rinse, don’t soak, to retain nutrients. I stick the stems in water to hydrate the leaves and then refrigerate in a zipper plastic bag. They are nice and crisp later in the day.

Store refrigerated. They will keep fresh several days.

 

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