photo credit: Mike the Gardener
|Easy to grow and a prolific producer, growing Swiss Chard in my home vegetable garden has become a staple. As you will see in a moment, harvesting Swiss chard is very easy, and the taste, similar to spinach, is out of this world.
You can eat Swiss Chard in a salad by mixing in the leaves with some of your other favorite salad fixings for a great healthy snack. If a smoothie is more your thing, you can juice your Swiss Chard just like you can with your kale, spinach, carrots and tomatoes.
Regardless of the recipe that you use for your Swiss Chard, growing it at home should be a must. I say a must, because it is very easy to grow. In most zones you do not even need to start it indoors, and with the help of cold frames and greenhouses, Swiss Chard grows well through the cold winter months as well.
SWISS CHARD PLANTING DEPTH AND SPACINGMany varieties of Swiss chard seeds are fairly large. Therefore, I recommend that you plant your Swiss Chard seed about a half inch deep into the soil.
If you are planting outdoors in a garden bed, space your seeds out about eighteen inches. If you can’t afford that much space, as is the case with many square foot gardeners, I recommend one seed every twelve inches (or one per square).
SWISS CHARD DAYS TO GERMINATIONUnder optimal conditions you can expect your Swiss Chard seeds to germinate in as little as seven days, although up to fourteen is more likely. To make the conditions optimal, I would recommend you soak your seeds for 24 hours prior to planting, then plant your Swiss Chard seeds in nutrient rich soil. Meaning, your soil is loaded with plenty of compost.
WHEN AND WHERE TO PLANT YOUR SWISS CHARDAlthough, in the past, I have had Swiss Chard grow very well in partially shaded areas, I recommend you select a sunny location and plant your seeds as soon as the fear of frost passes in your growing zone. You can also start your seeds indoors and move them outdoors as Swiss Chard acclimates well when you move them.
Photo credit: Mike the Gardener - Swiss Chard starts
CARING FOR YOUR SWISS CHARDAs is the case with any garden area, keep it weed free so your Swiss Chard does not have to compete for the soil’s nutrients. Check out this previous blog post that I wrote, How to Keep Weeds to a Minimum in the Garden for help on creating a weedless garden area.
You also want to feed your Swiss Chard plants every four weeks. You can either use a good organic fertilizer or spread out some compost around the base of your plants. Rain and watering will take care of the rest.
A quick note about watering. You will want to keep the soil moist and not saturated. Too much water could cause your Swiss Chard plants to die.
HARVESTING SWISS CHARDWhen it comes to harvesting your Swiss Chard, simply break or cut the outer leaves off at the base when your Swiss Chard leaves reach six to eight inches wide. Do not harvest all of your Swiss Chard leaves at once so you can let the plant continue to grow.
Swiss Chard is a great addition to any healthy eating plan. It is rich in Calcium, Iron and Vitamins A, B1, B2, Niacin and C.
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