Swiss Chard will grow well direct seeded or as started transplants. In a warm or mild climate, you shouldn’t run into much trouble planting your chard as seeds. In climates where you go from a cold season to a warm season very quickly, you are usually better off planting your chard from seedlings. You can plant chard in either the spring or the fall depending on your preference. If you’re opting for a spring harvest, plant the chard two to three weeks before the last frost. For a fall harvest, you can plant as early as late summer but no later than 40 days before the first frost. A spring planting usually provides a harvest through the spring, summer, and fall. If you plant in both the spring and the fall, you can have a chard harvest virtually year-round.
When you’re choosing a spot in your garden to plant chard, it’s important to consider the amount of sunlight that the plants will receive. In early spring and fall, when the weather tends to be cooler, chard prefers full sun. In the summer, when the weather is warmer, it prefers partial sun. However, keep in mind that chard usually tolerates heat fairly well, so it can work well in a sunny section of your garden. Chard also grows well in containers, so if you don’t have the right spot for it in your garden, consider planting it in a pot or planter.
Prep your soil by working in a couple inches of compost, though chard will do well in most types of soil as long as it is fairly well-draining. If planting seeds directly, plant every 3-4” apart in rows about 12-18” apart depending on variety. Plant seeds ½”-3/4” deep and water in well. Thin to 9-12” spacing after the plants are a few inches tall. If planting started plants, plant at soil level and space plants 9-12” apart. Mulch with an inch or two of your favorite organic mulch and water well.
Swiss Chard can be harvested at any size, and stays tender even when quite large. It has good heat resistant, being a biennial, it won’t bolt until the following spring after planting, so it makes a good crop for season-long harvest.
Swiss Chard, Beta vulgaris
Pollination, wind; Life Cycle, biennial; Isolation Distance, 1 mile
Chard is a wind pollinated biennial, making it a challenge to grow to seed for beginners. Being wind pollinated, it needs a very long isolation distance, at least 1 mile away from other Beta vulgaris to prevent crossing; this includes Beets. Fall planting works best, and then mulch heavily to protect the roots through winter. The following spring the plant will set up its flower stalk and set seed, and the seed saver should allow the seeds to dry on the plant as much as possible, and then gather for dry harvesting.