Swiss chard is planted for its big crinkled leaves that can be eaten in salads, soups or simply steamed or sautéed. Usually grown as an annual, it is a true biennial. Unlike its cousin the beet, chard is not grown for its fleshy roots but for its large leaves with fleshy edible stems that can be harvested all season. If not harvested in the first year it will produce spikes of unimpressive flowers the second year.
This is an easy vegetable to grow. It prefers full sun and fertile, slightly alkaline garden soil. It is quite heat tolerant but flourishes in cooler seasons. In fact, the leaves may become bitter in extremely hot weather. Plants may be directly seeded or transplanted into the vegetable garden. Sow chard a few weeks before the last frost date in temperate zones and in the winter in warm, frost-free areas. Feed with a balanced fertilizer and water regularly.
Harvest can begin 50 to 60 days after seeding. Leaves should be gathered by cutting the oldest outer stems close to the ground. These have a short shelf life, so eat them quickly.
Standard chard has dark glossy green leaves and white stems and veins. Today there are many colorful varieties available. The award-winning mix ‘Bright Lights’ is the most popular because the stems come in an array of colors such as yellow, red, orange, pink and apricot. Chard also has ornamental value and can be incorporated into container plantings and mixed borders.
Winchester Gardens generally stocks this item.
Annual – Edible
White, Yellow, Red, Green, Orange, Dark Green
Begin harvesting chard by removing outer leaves when they reach 6 inches tall, and continue harvesting throughout the summer. Plants tolerate light frosts, so you can continue harvesting late into autumn.