Swiss chard is always sown outdoors (I guess you could do it inside if you wanted to but why bother when it is so easy to grow in the garden)
When to Plant
Sow outside as soon as the ground can be worked safely (without compacting the soil) and sow every two weeks from mid April until mid June. After this, it starts to get too hot to really grow this kind of leaf vegetable (leaves get bitter).
Replant in the late summer when the nights start to cool down for fall crops or treat as below under care and maintenance.
Where to Plant
Full sun to very light shade in the heat of the summer in a well-drained soil. It will grow in almost any soil except for swamps; it does however prefer good garden soil.
How to Plant
Sow seed one 1.2 cm (deep and several seeds to the centimeter. Thin the seedlings when they are 5 cm tall and leave spacing at 10 cm apart. Use the thinnings in salads as they are quite tender.
When the remaining plants start to touch each other, pull every second one so the final spacing is a plant every 20 cm . I usually pull them as they mature and just start to touch, and pick the smaller of the two so I’m always pulling out the weaker plant (and eating it). I don’t have a “system” but rather I go down the row and look for smaller plants that are being dwarfed by nearby plants. These get eaten first.
Care & Maintenance
In early August, trim off all the browning or poor looking leaves and give a liquid fish emulsion fertilizer. The boost in performance will give a lot of new fresh growth that you can harvest for the rest of the summer and right up until a snowfall knocks off the plants. They are very hardy and will bear right through all early frosts.
Do water this plant right through the heat of the summer. If you neglect to water it, you’ll find the central stalk will go “woody” and will stop producing new and succulent growth.
You’ll find that the different leaves have different tastes (inner are more tender – outer are fantastic in stir fries).
Swiss chard is a good alternative to spinach because it tends to continue producing right through the heat of the summer (if watered) where spinach does not grow well in the heat. And Swiss chard resists bolting much better than spinach.
Problems are the same as any of the cabbage family. Watch for green cabbage worms all summer and aphids on early plants.
(all numbers rounded out)
1/4 inch = .6 cm
1/2 inch = 1.3 cm
1 inch = 2.5 cm
6 inch = 15 cm
12 inch = 30 cm
18 inch = 45 cm
36 inch = 91 cm
For other organic vegetable gardening tips, click here