Looking for something a little out-of-the-ordinary to plant in your fall garden? Why not give Swiss chard a try? Swiss chard makes a healthy addition to the cool-season garden; it contains no fat, is low in calories and cholesterol and is a good source for vitamins A & C as well as calcium and iron. It is easy to grow as long as its basic requirements are met: full sun (or at least 6 hours of sun per day), and a fertile, well-drained soil.
Both leaves and stems are edible and can be eaten either cooked or raw. A 10-foot row will typically yield between 8 and 12 pounds of chard. White stemmed varieties generally out-perform their more colorful relatives (red, pink, yellow or orange-ribbed varieties), but for a little diversity plant both types.
- Incorporate 2”-4” of a good-quality soil amendment into the planting bed, along with some pre-plant fertilizer.
1. Prep the soil
2. Plant your Swiss chard
4. Control weeds and insects
5. Harvest and enjoy
- Shovel or garden fork
- Garden spade or trowel
- Soil Amendment such as Kellogg® Gardner and Bloome®
- Veggie Food such as Dr. Earth® Tomato and Vegetable
- Swiss Chard Plants
- If planting by seed, plant them ½”-1” deep and 3” apart, then thin them to 12” apart (this is more easily done by using small scissors rather than pulling them out)
- If planting seedlings, space them 12” apart.
- Apply regular water to maintain even soil moisture; plants that have been subjected to water fluctuations will often produce tough leaves.
- Since Swiss chard does not compete well with weeds, be vigilant and remove them early.
INSECTS AND DISEASES
- Swiss chard is relatively fast growing and is not susceptible to many diseases
- The main pests to watch for are aphids, slugs and flea beetles. Treat these insects with an appropriate insecticide labeled for use in vegetable gardens.
HARVESTING AND STORAGE
- Leaves can be harvested when they are young and tender or at their mature stage. Harvest leaves from the outside of the plant first.
- Chard leaves can be stored in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.
- Swiss chard can be substituted for spinach in any recipe and the crisp ribs of the plant can be grilled for a unique side dish.
When the weather warms up in the spring, the plant will “bolt” (produce flowers). This is your cue that it’s time to remove your chard plants and replace them with a warm-season vegetable of your choice.