Up until about seven or eight years ago, I was simply a traditional home vegetable gardener. I, like a lot of other people, grew the basics such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and various greens. As I started to expand my vegetable gardening horizon I learned about so many new plants that offered up great tasting and healthy options for my family’s dinner table. One such vegetable is Swiss Chard.
There are a number of varieties of Swiss Chard, however my favorite is the Rainbow Mixture. It is a great mix of a variety of colors which not only adds a great leafy vegetable to your back yard, but it is a very attractive plant that adds beauty to your garden.
The seeds of all varieties of Swiss Chard are the same size, shape and look. The best way to describe what the seeds look like is to picture the cereal Grape Nuts. Because it is a fairly sizable seed it can be planted about a half inch deep.
To get a jump start on your Swiss Chard begin indoors two weeks prior to the last frost of the season in your area. Once fear of frost subsides in your area then you can move your Swiss chard outdoors. Swiss chard is one of those vegetables that is versatile when it comes to temperature. Although their optimal temperature is eighty-five degrees Fahrenheit they will do ok anywhere from fifty to eighty-five.
Swiss chard grows best in soil where the pH level is in the 6.0 to 7.0 range, with a moderate to even watering in an area that receives full sun, although Swiss chard will tolerate light shade.
When Swiss chard reaches six inches tall it is ready to be harvested. You can either harvest the entire plant or cut off a few stalks at a time and the plant will continue to grow throughout the season.
If you are active in a crop rotation plan, avoid following beets or spinach. If you do a lot of companion planting, Swiss chard grows well next to members of the cabbage family, legumes and lettuce. However you will want to avoid beets and spinach when companion planting as well.
If you have never thought of trying (or even heard of) Swiss Chard, give it a go in your next home vegetable gardening season. You may find out as I have, it is a great vegetable to grow.
About the Author
Mike Podlesny is the owner of Mike the Gardener Enterprises, LLC, the exclusive home of the Seeds of the Month Club, which has appeared on NBC, ABC and MSN Money as a great way for consumers to save money.