Swiss Chard (Beta vulgaris)
This stunning leafy green should find itself a staple in any garden or ornamental landscape. Glossy dark green leaves have crisp multicolored stalks that hold up well under a variety of growing conditions. Highly nutritious and dependable this plant can be worked into any number of dishes to rave reviews.
Nutrients: very high in vitamins A and K; vitamins C, E, B6, riboflavin, magnesium, iron, potassium, and manganese.
How To Grow Swiss Chard
Chard is a moderately frost-tolerant biennial that is easy- to- grow and direct seed in early spring, late summer and early fall. It grows best in fertile well-drained soil in an area that receives full sun to part shade. Chard can be easily grown in containers or raised beds outside.
Plant seeds ½” deep spaced 2-4” apart placing about 3 seeds in each hole. As sprouts appear and seedlings mature, space plants 10-14” apart to provide enough room for the plant to leaf out. Be sure to water seeds after sowing to aid in softening the rough seed coat for faster germination. Seeds take 5-17 days to sprout. Continue watering Chard daily as it grows to distribute moisture evenly across the bed or container in which they are growing.
Chard matures in 50-60 days depending on the variety. When ready to harvest, use pruning shears or scissors to cut stems just above the base of the plant. Leave some leaves on each plant to encourage more growth for a come-and-cut-again harvest. Succession planting throughout the spring and late summer allows for a continual supply of fresh greens well into the Fall.
How to Save Swiss Chard Seed
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.