Swiss chard, whose scientific name is Beta vulgaris cicla, is a leafy green vegetable with red, white, or yellow leaf stalks. A member of the beet family, Swiss chard is an extremely nutritious but often overlooked food. Low in calories as well as in saturated fat and cholesterol, Swiss chard is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals like calcium, cooper, folic acid, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, and zinc. Like other leaf vegetables, Swiss chard is also a good source of dietary fiber. Swiss chard grows particularly well in containers, and rainbow varieties make pretty additions to any landscape. Learning how to grow Swiss chard in your home garden to add this nutritious and delicious vegetable to your diet is easy with these simple tips.
Swiss Chard Varieties
Although Swiss chard is available in several varieties, the taste and texture of all types is pretty much identical. The main difference between Swiss chards is the color of the leaf stalk. However, some of the most recommended varieties include:
- Red: Burgundy, Rhubarb, Ruby
- White: Fordhook Giant, Geneva, Large White Broad-Ribbed, Lucullus, Perpetual, Winter King
- Red, White, and Yellow Mixed: Rainbow
Swiss chard is classified as a hardy plant, so seeds can be planted outdoors as early as four weeks before the final frost of the year and as late as four weeks before the first fall frost. Swiss chard prefers some shade but will grow in full sun with adequate watering.
Growing Swiss Chard
To grow Swiss chard in a home garden, start by preparing your soil. Swiss chard needs soil that both drains well but retains moisture. Although Swiss chard will tolerate soil of poorer quality, plan on adding compost or fertilizer to your garden for the best results. Like with my other leafy greens, I prefer to grow Swiss chard in my container garden to keep the leafy greens out of reach of pesky rabbits. If you plan to plant your Swiss chard in a container, the soil must be at least six inches deep to allow for adequate growth of the plants. Swiss chard is classified as a hardy plant, so seeds can be planted outdoors as early as four weeks before the final frost of the year and as late as four weeks before the first fall frost. Swiss chard prefers some shade but will grow in full sun with adequate watering.
After preparing the soil, plant the Swiss chard seeds in the soil about half an inch deep. Space the seeds approximately one inch apart. Alternatively, you can sprinkle the seeds in the soil and thin out the seedlings later. Swiss chard comes in a number of different varieties. However, the main difference between each variety is the color of the leaf stalk. Immediately water the seeds after planting. Keep the Swiss chard well-watered, ensuring that the soil remains moist but not soggy.
Once the seedlings emerge, thin out the Swiss chard so that the plants are spaced approximately two to three inches apart. Most varieties of Swiss chard mature within four to six weeks. As the weather becomes hotter, be sure to keep the soil around the Swiss chard plants moist. Swiss chard is extremely resistant to insects and disease, but do keep an eye out for pests such as rabbits. Planting your Swiss chard in containers or using chicken wire can keep animals away from your leafy greens. In general, Swiss chard is an incredibly easy vegetable to grow.
Like spinach and leaf lettuce, Swiss chard may be harvested as soon as individual leaves grow large enough to eat or cook. Carefully remove each leaf from the terminal bud located at the center of the bottom of the plant. If the terminal bud remains undamaged, additional chard leaves will continue to sprout throughout the season. A single planting can last the entire growing season, but harvest the leaves when smaller because leaves left to grow too long may become bitter in taste especially if the plant does not receive enough water during the hottest part of the summer. At the end of the growing season, remove the entire Swiss chard plant from the ground.
What tips do you have for growing Swiss chard in a home garden?
Growing Swiss Chard: http://www.gardeningpatch.com/vegetable/growing-swiss-chard.aspx
How to Grow Swiss Chard Plants: http://www.gardenersnet.com/vegetable/chard.htm
Nutrition Facts and Analysis for Chard: http://www.nutritiondata.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2400/2
Watch Your Garden Grow – Chard: http://urbanext.illinois.edu/veggies/chard1.html
Swiss Chard: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Swiss_Chard_1.jpg
Growing Swiss Chard in a Home Garden 1 © 2013 Heather Johnson
Growing Swiss Chard in a Home Garden 2 © 2013 Heather Johnson
Growing Swiss Chard in a Home Garden 3 © 2013 Heather Johnson
Growing Swiss Chard in a Home Garden 4 © 2013 Heather Johnson
Growing Swiss Chard in a Home Garden 5 © 2013 Heather Johnson
Growing Swiss Chard in a Home Garden 6 © 2013 Heather Johnson
Growing Swiss Chard in a Home Garden 7 © 2013 Heather Johnson
Growing Swiss Chard in a Home Garden 8 © 2013 Heather Johnson