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Growing Swiss Chard in your garden is like adding a little joy to it. In essence, it’s like the ornamental vegetable of the garden.
Growing up in Australia and watching my parents tend to their gardens, Swiss Chard or Silver Beet as we knew it was a very popular plant in the garden.
Not just for its nutritional and taste value, but Swiss Chard just brightened up the garden.
I must admit, as a young child, eating leafy greens wasn’t my idea of fun but I eventually began to like the taste of this vegetable.
One of the main reasons was the way my mother prepared it. She was a whizz in the kitchen and with her Italian background, added taste to a Swiss Chard dish like no other.
And it wasn’t long before I decided to add this member of the Beet family to my garden. And the great thing is, it’s so easy to grow as it tolerates both cool to warm climates.
Tips For Growing Swiss Chard
So let’s begin with what you need to know about Swiss Chard.
Chard is a leafy green vegetable that originated in the Mediterranean region. Its name derives from the French word carde. It is one of the most nutritious vegetables known.
The stem and leaves are edible; the tender young stalks are often added to salads. In fact, it is considered a member of the beet family. Like beets, chard contains betalains, pigments that give the plant its vivid color.
Chard is known as a superfood yet many will walk by it in the supermarket without realizing what a powerful addition it would make to their diet.
It’s very high in in vitamins A and C. It’s also high in vitamin K. One warning about this leafy vegetable. If you are on any medication, especially blood thinning, then check with your doctor before eating Swiss Chard.
One of the attractions to me when I first ate Chard as a child was the fact it didn’t have that bitter taste that leafy greens can have. That’s a big selling point for a child right?
When To Start Growing Swiss Chard
Swiss chard is an annual vegetable that grows quickly, so you won’t see much out of it until mid-summer.
If you want to grow Swiss chard during the colder months, plant it in late fall or even spring. You’ll get a harvest in early summer.
To keep Swiss chard growing throughout the entire season, plant several different varieties of the plant together. This way, one variety will mature while another is still young.
The key is to avoid the frosts if they are prevalent in your area. The rule of thumb is to plant Swiss Chard about a month before the frost is a factor in spring.
And in fall, it’s recommended you plant at least six weeks before the first frost is expected.
The great thing about Swiss Chard is that it can tolerant a light to mild frost although if it was to face it several times in succession then that could be a plant-killer.
How To Plant Swiss Chard
You’ll, get a variety of tips on growing Swiss Chard. As I said above, It’s an easy vegetable to grow and you shouldn’t have too many problems getting it to maturity.
I’m not sure how much you intend to plant but I start off planting seeds in a small plot, about two rows separated by about eighteen inches.
Plant the seeds up to an inch in the soil and space them at least half a foot apart as Swiss Chard can cover plenty of ground when it is in full bloom.
I like to space them further apart for aeration purposes although I may be taking up a little extra ground in the garden.
Now, it’s just a matter of keeping an eye on your Swiss Chard. Watch the spacing closely. As it grows, it will close up the gap as it spreads.
Don’t be afraid to remove a seedling or two and replant them elsewhere to keep the airflow going through the garden.
Swiss Chard never required much fertilizer when I was a child and the same applies now.
If you feel yours will need fertilizer consider nitrogen fertilizer or what is know as blood meal fertilizer. But use it sparingly as Swiss Chard can grow in soil that may be a challenge for most other plants. It’s a hardy growing vegetable.
One thing to remember is that watering should be a regular thing with Swiss Chard. Avoid hitting it with water and then leaving it for a while.
Swiss Chard likes an even spread of watering. Either early morning or late evening. If you feel the ground is looking a little dry, then water it.
When it’s hot, you may need to water twice a day. But don’t over water and make the ground soggy.
Mulching is another great idea as this helps conserve the water. It is also a great deterrent for weeds taking hold in your garden. Good mulch is available everywhere today. Either at a garden center near you or online. You’ll get great deals on mulch online.
Also, when the plants starts to exceed a foot in height or more, you can remove leaves and start sampling the product.
My mom did this regularly hence the regular supply of Swiss Chard or Silver Beet on the dinner table.
Be careful when cutting back and use a sharp pair of scissors.
Cutting back also keeps the airflow happening between plants and this is especially important when it’s either very warm or cold.
Growing Swiss Chard make seem intimidating if you haven’t grown it before but once again, this vegetable will almost grow itself.
If you are a novice at growing Swiss Chard, I suggest starting small.
Growing In Pots
Swiss chard is one of the easiest crops to grow indoors. Whether you want it just as a decorative plant or plan to enjoy it’s vitamin rich offering, it will look great in your home.
Just add organic soil in a pot. Add some compost water. Water when needed and watch your seeds sprout.
You have a couple of choices. Once the seedlings are about 2-4 inches high, you could transplant the seedlings outside.
But if you intend to keep them indoors, that’s okay. Make sure they get regular light. Take them outside in their pots during the day.
You may even want to invest in an indoor growing light.
When you’re ready to harvest, cut back as per the instructions above when harvesting from an outside garden.
You can store them in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Personally, I like to eat then fresh within twenty hours. I find they tend to lose a little bit of freshness if refrigerated for three days or more.
That’s one of the great things about growing Swiss Chard; just cut out a few leaves and watch it keep growing. It’s the vegetable gift that keeps on giving.
Conclusion: When Plants Bolt
As you can see, there are many benefits to growing Swiss Chard. It is decorative, tastes great and is easy to grow.
Swiss chard is one of those vegetables that is easy to grow and very tasty. It’s a member of the beet family and like most members of the beet family, it’s high in vitamins A and K.
If you have an appetite right now and haven’t grown any, the good news is you can find Swiss chard in many stores now. Look for bunches of bright green leaves with firm stalks. If you see wilting leaves, choose another bunch.
The best way to prepare Swiss Chard is simply to boil or steam it. When it’s done, drain it well and serve hot or cold. It’s great in salads as well.
One more thing. Swiss Chard like most other plants can start bolting. Basically, it means that they are on a mission to start flowering. This will see them make a real effort to spurt upwards.
This is good and bad. At that point, the stalks become woody and tough. But you can gather seeds for the next crop.
When you’ve done this and no longer will use the plant, pull them up, trim away the roots and leaves, and let the plants dry in a warm place for a few weeks. Then hang them upside down in a dark, cool space where they’ll cure.
Once cured, you can use the dried stalks in soups, salads, casseroles, stir fries, pasta dishes, and much more.