Rising Swiss chard: leafy greens and tender stems

The delicious and healthy Swiss chard belongs to the Amaranthaceae family. It is known as a nutritional powerhouse and contains many nutrients and vitamins, especially A, C, K and the vitamin B group. Better yet, these leafy vegetables are extremely low in calories. One cup of chopped Swiss chard contains only 35 calories. Growing Swiss chard can be a great thing for your health!

The word "Mangold" comes from the French word "Kader" and means artichoke thistle. Unfortunately, the origin of the word “Swiss” is less clear, especially since the vegetables are not native to Switzerland. Regardless, it is used extensively in traditional Swiss cuisine. It was first described by a Swiss botanist, which may have something to do with the term "Swiss" in his name.

Swiss chard is closely related to beets. While beets are grown for the roots, Swiss chard is generally grown for its leaves. Swiss chard is relatively easy to grow successfully, and the health benefits of this delicious vegetable are well worth your while.

Good products for growing chard:

Brief instructions for care

Growing Swiss chardGrowing Swiss chard is relatively easy and very rewarding. Source: dnfisher

Common Name (s) Silver beet, perpetual spinach, seakale beet, leaf beet and beetroot spinach
Scientific name Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris
Days to harvest 55 to 60
light Partly to full sun
Water: Moderate, about 1 "to 1.5" weekly
ground Loamy, well drained
fertilizer Slow release nitrogen rich fertilizer
Pests Aphids, dark beetles, flea beetles, beet leaf cicada
Diseases Beet curly top virus, fungal root rot, steaming

Everything about Swiss chard

Swiss chard leaf close-upA close up of Swiss chard leaves. Source: Jeff Moser

Swiss chard was first called Beta vulgaris by a Swedish botanist, Carl Linnaeus. Over the years it has been considered a subspecies. Nowadays it bears the botanical name Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris. It is also known by a number of common names, although silver beet, Swiss chard, Swiss chard, or leaf beet are probably the best known.

These plants average 18 to 24 inches tall. They have large, dark green leaves with pronounced ribs. The stem can be white, yellow or red, depending on the variety. Sometimes the stem has a mix of colors. During the second year of growth, the plant also produces small green flowers on the flowering stems.

With large dark green leaves, the foliage is gorgeous, making these plants an excellent garden crop. It reproduces from seeds, which are typically sown between April and August in the northern hemisphere. The plant takes around 50 to 60 days to mature.

Swiss chard (Swiss or otherwise) probably comes from a wild beet version native to the Mediterranean region. The original variety has been traced back to Sicily. It was naturalized in Europe and America. However, this vegetable is rarely consumed outside of Europe.

If you want to grow Swiss chard, Bright Lights, Fordhook Giant, Ruby Chard, or Lucllus are popular varieties. I've been growing Bright Lights chard for years and it's always a pleasure to see. Growing rainbow chard can really liven up the garden with tons of bright colors!

Planting Swiss chard

Rainbow chardChard stalks can be a rainbow of colors. Source: Leek-N-Borders

Whether you want to harvest the leaves or want to grow them for their beautiful garden aesthetic, we have plenty of tips on how to grow Swiss Chard like a pro!

If you plan to plant Swiss chard, it is usually grown as a crop in the cool season. It thrives in cooler temperatures in fall and spring. The growth of Swiss chard often slows down as the temperature rises.

The best time to plant Swiss chard seeds is 2 to 3 weeks before the last spring frost date. For an autumn harvest, plant seeds around 40-50 days before the first autumn frost date. Plant no deeper than ½ inch to ensure good germination. The optimal germination temperature for Swiss chard is 85 Fahrenheit, but the plant itself works best between 40 and 95 F.

Make transplants when the weather is still warm for good growth. Place your Swiss chard 12 to 18 inches apart, although you may be able to place it 10 inches apart in a well-fertilized raised bed. The leaves may appear limp shortly after the transplant, but will spring back right away!

Growing Swiss chard from seeds is easy. A quick soak can help the seeds germinate faster. Then sow the seeds ½ inch deep, at least 2 inches apart in a row. Thin to 12 inches apart once they have their first real leaves. The rows should be 18 to 24 inches apart. For square foot gardeners, aim for 4 plants per square foot.


Swiss chard in the raised bedSwiss chard grows very well in raised beds. Source: swifthandsam

Swiss chard is easy to grow, but your Swiss chard plant still needs proper care to really thrive. Let's examine the intricacies of how Swiss chard can be grown in your garden.

Sun and temperature

Swiss chard enjoy sunlight and do well in full to partial sun. Ideally, these plants should get around 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day. They are slightly frost hardy, but are not suitable for long periods with temperatures below freezing.

The ideal temperature range for Schweizer to grow is 32 to 75 F. If you have very cold winters it is best to use a cold frame to keep your plants warm, or alternatively you can move your plants inside. The USDA growth zone is 2-11.

Irrigation and humidity

Like most vegetables, Swiss chard requires an even and even supply of water, about 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week. The aim is to keep the soil evenly moist.

Insufficient water slows down the growth of leaves and stems. You may need to water your chard plants more in hot temperatures than in the cooler months of the year. Mulch the plants at the base to maintain soil moisture. A drinking hose is ideal for watering.


Chard plants grow best in rich and organic clay soils. They are able to tolerate some poor soils but are not that vigorous. Add compost to your soil before planting it, especially if it is clay-proof. Sandy soils allow for good drainage, but you can also use some compost to store the moisture. Aim for a pH between 6.0 and 6.8.


Since you will likely be growing chard for the leaves and stem instead of the root, make sure you fertilize your plants so they can grow well. A slow-release, nitrogen-rich fertilizer is ideal for this purpose as it provides plenty of nutrition for the development of large, healthy chard leaves.


The only time you need to prune your Swiss chard is when it is trying to bolt to the seed. Leaving only a few stems at this point, trim the rest of the plant back to 1 inch above the ground. The remaining green leaves help the plant with photosynthesis as it focuses its energy on growing new leaves. This does not always prevent bolting, but it can slow it down to extend the life of the equipment.

Otherwise, most of the pruning is done as part of the harvest or to remove damaged leaves. Outer leaves and stems are usually harvested first, with the inner stems acting as photosynthesis.


Swiss chard propagates by seeds, and all other methods are unlikely to work. You can start the seeds indoors or sow directly in beds. Choose high quality seeds from a reliable source.

The seedlings appear in 1 to 2 weeks and can be placed outdoors after the last frost date has passed. It is advisable to acclimate the seedlings outdoors for a few hours each day before planting them in the ground or container outside.

Harvesting and storing

Chard harvestAfter harvesting, Swiss chard can be eaten fresh or blanched and frozen. Source: mtnlover61

Now that you know how to grow Swiss chard, let's see how to harvest and store it. The best thing about Swiss chard is that you can cut and come back for multiple harvests during the growing season. So, if you're wondering how to harvest Swiss chard, let's discuss it!


You can harvest the dark green leaves and stems of Swiss chard. It grows back quickly, so you can harvest many times throughout the growing season.

Whether you are harvesting young or mature leaves, make sure you pick the outer leaves first. Leave the inner leaves and let them grow. You can use a pair of sterile pruning scissors to make clean cuts about an inch off the floor.


For short-term storage, place the cut end of the stems in a small amount of water. Place a plastic bag over the leaves. This allows the stems to retain their moisture, although the leaves begin to wither within 24 hours. This method is best if you harvest in the morning and plan to cook the stems for dinner that evening.

For a slightly longer storage time, wrap your chard stalks and leaves in paper towels and place them in a plastic bag, squeezing out as much air as possible. Store in the sharper drawer. Using this method, you should store for 3-4 days.

Do not wash your crops until just before use. Prolonged exposure to moisture can cause the leaves to decay quickly and the stems to become mushy.

Store your Swiss chard for long-term use by freezing it. Wash and dry your chard, then remove the chard leaves from the stems. Blanch the dark green leaves in boiling water for a minute, then put them in an ice bath to stop cooking. The stems should be blanched for two minutes and then placed in an ice bath. This will help the green leaves keep their color.

Once your products are blanched, dry them thoroughly and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze until firm, then transfer to a freezer bag for later use.


Light through Swiss chard leavesLight shines through young chard leaves. Source: M J M.

There are a few common issues related to growing chard that you should be aware of. Let's discuss these in detail.

Growing problems

However, these plants are slightly frost hardy cannot survive very cold winters. Provide a cold frame or grow in containers that you can bring indoors in cold weather.


Aphids are tiny, sap-sucking insects that often attack vegetables. You can get rid of them by spraying the plant with neem oil, horticultural oils, or insecticidal soap. Environmental controls include ladybugs and lacewings.

The dark beetle useful in raising mealworms to feed chickens, but bad to have in the garden. Both adults and their mealworm larvae cannibalize the leaves of plants. Unfortunately, insecticides are not very effective against them, although pyrethrin can easily reduce their numbers. Keep the area around your plants free of debris and hand-pick adult bugs if you find them.

Flea beetle Eat a bullet hole pattern through the leaves, disfiguring them and reducing the amount of harvest. These respond well to spinosad or pyrethrin control measures.

While they damage the leaves vegetatively, the Sugar beet cicadas is a dangerous vector for plant diseases. These can be difficult to get rid of, but using a mixture of insecticidal soap and pyrethrin is usually effective at killing larvae.


Beet Curly Top Virus is a viral infection characterized by small, yellow, curled leaves with swollen veins. There are no treatments for this disease that are spread from beet leaf hoppers to Swiss chard. Hence it is important to prevent them.

Poorly draining soil can lead to this Fungal root rot in your plants. Use well-drained soil and avoid overwatering. When growing in pots, make sure your pot has large drainage holes to ensure good drainage and no water retention.

damping can be caused by a number of soil fungi. Some products like MycoStop can help control some of these products, such as: B. Fusarium. Others, like Python, are much more difficult to prevent. The same soil-bound fungi cause root rot in the soil, which does not drain moisture well. The only cure for cushioning is prevention as there is no treatment.

frequently asked Questions

Q: How long does it take for Swiss chard to grow?

A: It takes 7-14 days to germinate Swiss chard from seeds. It is ready to be harvested from the entire plant in 55 to 60 days after sowing. If you choose a cut-and-come-again method, you can harvest leaves and stems evenly when growing chard.

Q: Does Swiss chard grow back every year?

A: Swiss chard is typically grown as an annual in vegetable gardens. However, it can be a biennial in the right climate. As soon as the flowers appear in the second year, the leaves usually turn bitter.

Q: What is a good companion plant for Swiss chard?

A: Some good companions for Swiss chard are brassicas, celery, chamomile, coreopsis, lettuce, mint, nasturtiums, radishes, and sweet alyssum.

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