Whether planted early in the spring or late summer, Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris var. cicla) will still stack on its nutritional wealth!
This cool-season veggie is a fast grower, with most of the varieties taking only about fifty-five to sixty days from sowing to harvest.
It’s cold hardy, surviving occasional cold snaps in areas with not-so chilly winters like USDA hardiness zone 8.
The large, thick, ruffled leaves of Swiss chard grow from a crown at the plant’s base and, when appropriately harvested, continue to flourish throughout the season.
Though a biennial, chard is often cultivated as an annual flowering with small yellowish blooms in the summer.
Some Gardeners’ Favorite Varieties of Swiss Chard
Some of the crop’s popular varieties include the following:
- Fordhook Giant: A vigorous, compact grower with great flavor-packed with dark green leaves.
- Perpetual: Regrows leaves quickly after harvest; tastes more like spinach.
- Rainbow: Also called ‘five-color,’ exhibiting red, white, pink, yellow, and orange shades.
- Peppermint: Pink-and-white striped stems with green leaves; it’s bolt-resistant, perfect for containers.
- Lucullus: White stems with green leaves; heat-tolerant.
Whether white, red, or yellow, chard is nutrient-dense!
Frequently Asked Questions About Growing Swiss Chard
Read on to explore all about Swiss chard growing and care.
Is Swiss chard easy to grow?
Chard is an easy-to-grow vegetable with reasonably low maintenance needs. Just be sure to keep it hydrated, well-fed, and adequately spaced.
Does Swiss chard grow back each year?
Swiss chard is a biennial, taking two growing seasons from seed to fruition. It produces leaves vigorously in the first year and then flowers and seeds in the second year.
Will Swiss chard grow back after cutting?
Yes, like most cut-and-come-again vegetables, chard will continue its active growth process as long as you don’t damage the center of the plant.
How do you pick chard, so it keeps growing?
The secret is to harvest the crop properly regularly!
Begin harvesting when your chard is six to eight inches tall, depending on your preferred leaf size.
Using a sharp knife, cut off the large outer leaves an inch or so above the ground and leave the young sets to continue growing.
What month do you plant Swiss chard?
This will depend on the growing season; for a fall harvest, sow your chard seeds about six weeks before the projected first fall frost date; however, for the spring season, sow two to three weeks before the forecasted last spring frost date.
Does Swiss chard need full sun?
Chard grows best in full sun but will tolerate partial shade. Exposure to direct sunlight for at least four to six hours—on most days—should suffice.
Can you grow Swiss chard in a greenhouse?
Chard takes sunny and partially shaded conditions just well, so growing it in a greenhouse won’t be an issue.
Just ensure you set up the greenhouse kit for maximum lighting as your location provides.
Should I soak Swiss chard seeds before planting?
Soaking your Swiss chard seeds before planting helps soften the seed coating, speeding up the germination process.
Can Swiss chard be grown in a container?
Chard will do pretty well in containers as long as the potting mix is well-draining and there are sufficient drainage holes.
Since the plants have pretty shallow roots, you don’t necessarily need deep pots; however, be sure to adequately space the plants apart if intending to grow multiple in a container.
Can Swiss chard be started indoors?
Swiss chard is best sown directly in the garden since it’s fast-growing, but you can start the seeds indoors for a head-start in your growing season.
For summer crops, start the seeds indoors in early April and in June for fall crops.
Can you transplant chard?
You can transplant chard, whether you bought the seedlings from your local garden center or started them indoors.
Just ensure they have at least a set of true leaves for self-feeding. Plant once all the danger of frost is gone.
What can you not plant next to Swiss chard?
Chard will grow well with leafy greens such as cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, or turnips, but don’t plant it alongside the other members of the goosefoot family (to which it also belongs) like amaranth, quinoa, and beets—to prevent the risk of disease spread.
Melons, squash, and cucumbers will also compete for soil nutrients and possibly attract harmful pests to Swish chard.
Does Swiss chard need light to germinate?
Chard seeds don’t necessarily need light to germinate; however, the seedlings will require sunlight to grow once they sprout.
Will chard grow indoors?
Chard will thrive indoors as long as you meet its light needs. Consider placing it in an area with sufficient sunlight for the better part of the day.
Alternatively, set the plants under grow lights for at least ten to sixteen hours each day. Note that this may change as you continue the growing process—once you establish the appropriate amount of light that your seedlings need, based on their growth.
Place the lights one to two inches above the seedlings’ tops, so the plants don’t become leggy.
How to Grow Swiss Chard Seeds:
You can use this method to direct-sow the seeds into the earth. Or, you can start them indoors (as described below) and harden them off to transplant later.
- Find a sunny spot for your seeds.
- Begin by soaking the seeds in water—preferably overnight—to ease germination.
- Moisten the potting soil with water—just enough—so it clumps when you squeeze.
- Fill your medium-large pot (or directly into the ground) with the moistened potting soil to about ¾, leaving the top space for watering.
- Sow the seeds ½- inch deep and six inches apart. Sow close together if you intend to thin them out later.
- Sprouting should occur in seven to ten days.
- Keep the soil evenly moist by watering from the bottom rather than the top so you don’t damage the delicate seedlings.
To do that, place the pot in water until the mix is sufficiently moist.
- Begin feeding the plants with organic liquid fertilizer once the leaves are four to six inches tall, making sure to follow the instructions on the label.
- Harvest anytime regularly before the plant flowers.
How do you grow Swiss chard indoors?
To successfully grow Swiss chard indoors, you must be consistent with watering, light, temperature, and feeding. Otherwise, the plant will stunt, become leggy, or die.
Indoors, a room temperature of 200 C (68°F) is okay with moderate humidity of about fifty percent.
In addition to the daily ten to sixteen hours of light exposure, you may also need to run your electric fan on the timer, so there is adequate ventilation and also help strengthen the seedlings.
Beware of bolting! Chard plants may bolt by prematurely entering the flower and seeding stages, rendering them inedible.
This is often a result of too much heat—if the room is sweltering or the light is too intense.
Remedy the situation by decreasing the light. Consider adjusting the grow lights upwards and maintain the room temperature at 200C (680 F) or lower.
If growing on a windowsill, relocate the pot farther from the window.
The Takeaway: Swiss Chard Can Provide Valuable Nutrition Even in Cooler Weather
Chard is a super easy crop, nutrient-dense, low maintenance, and versatile. What’s not to like about it?
Either grown in USDA hardiness zones six to ten as a biennial or as an annual in zones three to five, Swiss chard is sure to keep a plate of nutritional value overflowing throughout the season!