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How to Grow Swiss Chard from Seed to Harvest: Check How this Guide Helps Beginners

Swiss Chard is a colorful cold-season leaf vegetable, producing shiny, edible leaves that are eaten both raw and cooked. Although fertile, well-drained soil is ideal for growing Swiss Chard, it tolerates poor soil with good maintenance and feeding schedules. However, it’s low maintenance annual, so it’s perfect for a gardener who likes to grow fuss-free plants. Swiss Chard plays an essential part in any vegetable garden. Growing Swiss Chard from seed is straightforward, and the germination rate is often higher.

How to Grow Swiss Chard from Seed to Harvest
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How to grow Swiss Chard from seed to harvest

How long does it take Chard to grow from seed to harvest?

  • The Chard has broad, thick stems available in various colors: white, zingy yellow, and even lipstick pink. The Swiss Chard leaves are more than a foot long and close to 10 inches wide. 
  • The Swiss Chard grows rapidly and is usually ready for harvest four to six weeks after planting. Planting one crop can provide leaves for months. When the plant is 9 inches tall, start harvesting, although the baby’s tender leaves can be used in fresh salads. Once a leaf is cut off, a new one grows in its place.
  • Young Chard leaves are eaten fresh; you can use early thinning for salads. Fully formed leaves will be ready for harvesting about 10 to 12 weeks after sowing.

What month do you plant Swiss Chard?

  • You can plant Swiss Chard in the spring, 4 to 5 weeks before the last frost date. Swiss Chard plants grow well in raised garden beds, containers, and in-ground gardens. Plant Swiss Chard in a soil pH of 6.0 to 6.8 in nutrient-rich, well-drained soil at a distance of 12 to 18 inches.
  • Sow seeds directly at any time from early spring to mid-summer. The best temperature of the soil is 10°C to 30°C. Seeds may sprout in 7 to 14 days.
  • The exact time will depend on your zone. Areas that expect to freeze early should plant early and use a hoop house to give some shade to the developing plants and prevent them from bolting. You can also select a low bolt seed mix.  
  • When the soil surface is dry, water the seedlings and provide direct sunlight throughout the day. Chards are usually ready to be transplanted within four to six weeks or when they have two or three sets of healthy leaves.

In case you missed it: Growing Swiss Chard Hydroponically – A Full Guide

Swiss Chard Plant
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Is Swiss Chard easy to grow from seed?

It is easy to learn to grow Swiss Chard in the garden, and the plant thrives when given the appropriate conditions. It just needs enough space, water, and maybe a little bit of fertilizer. In areas that have never experienced a hard freeze, the Swiss Chard sometimes behaves like a perennial one, surviving for many years. When it blooms, you can cut the bloom stalk, and it will produce more leaves. 

Do you soak Swiss Chard seeds before planting?

  • You should plant Chard seeds about 40 days before the first fall frost date for the fall crop. You should soak the Swiss Chard seeds in water for 24 hours before planting to accelerate the speed of germination.
  • You can easily grow Swiss Chard from seeds, and the growth rate is usually relatively high. However, your seeds can perform even better by soaking your seeds in water for 24 hours before sowing. Plant your Swiss Chard seeds in rich, loose, moist soil at a depth of 1/2 inch.

Does Swiss Chard grow back every year?

  • The Swiss Chard is a biennial, so it will grow for two years, surviving in winter in areas where temperatures don’t drop below -10°C. After the second year of development, your Chard plant will start producing seeds and will not grow back next year.
  • Chard is a biennial, a two-year life cycle, but it is cultivated as an annual vegetable garden and harvested in the first season of its growth. Once it starts to flower and set the seed in its second year, its leaves become bitter and unpalatable. 

Does Swiss Chard grow back after cutting?

  • If your plant bolt in warm weather, immediately cut the flower stalks near the base, and new leaves will continue to grow in the plants.    
  • Pick the Chard, so it continues to grow and cut the outer leaves 1.5 to 2 inches above the ground. Old leaves can be removed from the plants, and discarded so young leaves continue growing. Cut individual leaves because you need them, and the plant will continue to produce new growth.  
  • New leaves will grow from the cut area. Once the leaves are larger (about 6 inches long), you can cut the plant with your kitchen shears and use stems and leaves in your recipes. The plant will grow again and give another crop in about 7 to 10 days.

How many Chard seeds are in a hole?

  • You should plant one to two Swiss Chard seeds per hole; otherwise, you will have many seeds adopting the same root system. 
  • Swiss Chard needs loose and well-drained soil. You should make a row in the soil and plant your seeds about half an inch or deeper, with eight to ten seeds per foot. Keep about 18 inches.

Does Swiss Chard like sun or shade?

  • Chard will grow in partial sun but grows best in full sunlight. It prefers a location with moderately fertile, well-drained soil and a soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0 (slightly acidic to neutral).
  • Leafy vegetables are the most tolerant of shade, including Kale, Lettuce, Spinach, Arugula, and Chard.
  • Most vegetables and leafy greens require full sunlight exposure for optimal growth. However, the Swiss Chard will work fine in both full sunshine and partial shade conditions. The Swiss Chard will grow well with the sun for four to six hours a day. 
  • Swiss Chard can be grown by seed or transplantation. Swiss Chard seeds can be sown after the soil reaches 5°C. Seeds grow best at 13°C to 23°C and require 7 to 14 days to emerge. Temperatures above 26°C reduce seed germination.

In case you missed it: Growing Swiss Chard, Planting, Care, and Harvesting

Swiss Chard Garden
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Should I start Swiss Chard seeds indoors?

We recommend direct sowing in the garden as Swiss Chard grows fast, but if you want, you can start Swiss Chard seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks in advance. Usually, Swiss Chard is also a fall crop. If the Swiss Chard grows from seeds in the fall, start them about ten weeks before the average first frost date of autumn.

How deep do you plant Swiss Chard seeds?

  • Two sowings are usually enough in April and the other in July. The July sowing provides leaves next spring when growth resumes. 
  • Sow 1/2 to 1 inch deep, 2 to 6 inches apart, in rows 18 to 24. Chard seeds, like beets, produce more than one plant and will likewise need to be thinned. If you plan to harvest whole plants, do succession plantings through late summer. 
  • Space plants are 8 to 10 inches apart in a staggered pattern or 18 to 24 inches apart in rows. Chard grows best throughout the sun but can tolerate light shade. 

Can I grow Swiss Chard in pots?

  • Swiss Chard can also be grown in a pot indoors during the cold months for a steady supply of nutritious vegetables. 
  • You can grow Swiss Chard in a container up to 1 gallon, the roots of Swiss Chard are shallow, so you only need a container at least 6 inches deep.
  • Swiss Chard doesn’t have deep roots, so the container you choose doesn’t need to be too deep. 6 to 8 inches should be enough. However, you don’t want the container to tip over or crowd these shallow roots, so make sure it’s also at least 12 inches wide. 
  • For Swiss Chards, it’s always a good idea to go with small to medium-sized containers. Choose an 8-inch deep and wide planter with proper drainage holes at the bottom. You can go for clay, terracotta, concrete, or plastic pots. In such a container, you can grow 2 to 3 plants.

Can Swiss Chard survive winter?

  • Swiss Chard can survive temperatures down to -10°C. The warmer areas will likely experience overwintering, provided plants are heavily mulched and located in a safe place, and you can grow Swiss Chard in pots and containers.
  • Swiss Chard grows well in hot summer temperatures and also tolerates frost. Chard may taste better when it’s grown in cold weather. However, plants will die from temperatures below -10°C.  

What can you not plant with Swiss Chard?

It is better to avoid planting Beets, Spinach, Amaranth, and Quinoa near Swiss Chard as they attract the same insects and can easily overwhelm the crop. You should not plant Swiss Chard near Potatoes, Corn, Cucumbers, or Melons. These vegetables will either compete for soil nutrients or promote harmful pests.

Why is my Chard not growing?

The Swiss Chard is not growing due to too much moisture, whether it is through rain or water. You can eliminate this problem by thinning the leaves so the air can circulate through the plants, making them dry. Swiss Chards will happily grow in pots and containers, making them a perfect patio or balcony plant. Keep the Swiss Chard well mulched with organic mulch to protect the roots and keep them in moisture.

In case you missed it: How to Grow Carrot from Seed to Harvest: Check How this Guide Helps Beginners

Swiss Chard
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How do you germinate Swiss Chard seeds?

  • Plant your Swiss Chard seeds in rich, loose, moist soil at a depth of 1/2 inch. If you’re starting your seeds indoors, you can place the two to three seeds in each plug. Once the seeds sprout, thin them to one seedling per plug.
  • Plants require consistent moisture as they grow larger. Swiss Chard seeds grow best in the full sun but will tolerate a light shade in the summer. Seeds germinate at soil temperatures from 5°C to 38°C. The seedlings will tolerate light frost, and mature plants will tolerate moderate frosts.

How deep do Chard roots go?

  • Swiss Chard may be related to beets, but its root depth is relatively shallow in size, which usually reaches 6 to 10 inches. However, if you have a smaller container, you’ll need to water large Chard plants more frequently.
  • You should place the container in a sunny, sheltered spot and fill it with fertilizer within 1 inch of the rim. You should plant seeds 1/2 inch deep and 1 inch apart, spread over the whole area, and water with a fine spray. After the seedlings emerge, thin them to leave the plants 2 to 3 inches apart eventually.

Does Swiss Chard need a lot of water?

  • Like all vegetables, Swiss Chard does best with a good, even water supply. Water regularly; if it does not rain, apply 1 to 1.5 inches of water every week. 
  • Chard likes moisture and will taste bad after drought, but standing water can increase the chances of infection. Avoid too much water, and make sure your soil thoroughly drains well.
  • Swiss Chard requires plenty of moisture, but the soil shouldn’t be soggy, as it can lead to rot and fungal diseases. Water the plants regularly so the soil remains moist at 1 inch. Reduce water during the wet season, and increase it in hot, dry periods.
  • An infected Swiss Chard plant can be stunted and usually has a crackle pattern on the leaves, with yellow or light green spots. Leaves may also show patches of exaggerated cupping.

What is the best fertilizer for Swiss Chard?

  • The Swiss Chard thrives best in full sunshine but will also tolerate a bit of shade. The soil should be thoroughly drained and amended with a lot of organic matter, i.e., compost. Further modify the soil with slowly released organic nitrogen fertilizer, such as blood meal, feather meal, or cottonseed meal. 
  • Swiss Chard can grow in poor soil conditions, but nitrogen fertilizer can help increase leaf growth about two weeks after planting. You can use organic fertilizers like blood meal (12-0-0) around the base of the plant.
  • You can apply the blood meal at a rate of 1 tablespoon per square foot and rake it 1 to 3 inches above the soil, then water the soil to add it completely. 
  • Plants will benefit from mid-season nitrogen application if grown on poor soils; otherwise, they perform well with little or no fertilizer. Keep the soil moist. Plants prone to drought are more likely to produce flower stalks and stop leaf production.
  • Feed Chards plants with a high nitrogen fertilizer every 4 to 6 weeks for vigorous growth. Make sure the plants get a constant moisture supply during the growing season, especially when the weather gets warmer.

In case you missed it: How to Grow Cabbage from Seed to Harvest: Check How this Guide Helps Beginners

Swiss Chard Farming
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How many times can you harvest Swiss Chard?

  • For harvesting, use a clean, sharp knife or garden scissors and cut the steam about two inches above the soil. Mature leaves can be cut a few at a time or simultaneously. But for multiple harvests throughout the season, the terminal bud should stay to keep producing new growth.
  • Cut and throw away the Swiss Chard leaves that are affected by the leaf miner, an insect that tunnels inside the leaves, lays its larvae, and leaves dead spots. You can also cut Swiss Chard in early spring to offset the damage from winter so that new growth in second-year plants can be seen immediately.  
  • Outer leaves should be cut off as they age, whether you don’t intend to eat them or plants can stop producing. This is especially true in mid-summer when leaves can turn bitter in summer.

Should you let Chard flower?

Even you can still choose to eat your bolted Chard. The leaves will have a higher bitter taste, but you can reduce this bitterness by cooking the greens instead of eating them raw. If you catch the bolting quickly and pinch the flower stalk, you can probably save the leaves without too much extra bitterness.

How do you protect Swiss Chard from pests?

  • Pests will cause so much damage to your Swiss Chard leaves that they won’t be edible. Prevent pests by covering plants with a fine mesh netting or a cheesecloth. You can use natural insecticidal soap sprays or pyrethrin-based sprays. 
  • A sticky trap is an effective control measure, or you can apply a commercial spray that includes pyrethrin or homemade spray, five parts of water, rubbing alcohol in two parts, and one tablespoon of liquid dish soap.
  • Some cultural management practices include preventing flies with row cover (best done at the beginning of the season), implementing crop rotation, and tilling the soil at the end of the growing season. 

What kind of soil does Swiss Chard like?

  • Swiss Chard works best in rich, moist soils with a soil pH between 6.0 and 6.8. Plant at a distance of about 12 to 18 inches in fertile soil, and water directly after planting.
  • Chard will tolerate partial sun but thrives best in full sunlight. It prefers a location with moderately fertile, well-drained soil and soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0 (slightly acidic to neutral). Before planting, mix aged manure and compost into the soil to increase soil fertility.
  • It prefers rich, moisture-rich, and well-drainage soil. Add organic matter (such as homemade compost) to improve the soil, ideally in the fall or winter before sowing. 

In case you missed it: How to Grow Cauliflower from Seed to Harvest: A Complete Guide for Beginners

Swiss Chard Home Garden
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Swiss Chard is a leafy green vegetable known for its nutritional value and is popular among gardeners because you can grow this vegetable easily. It is a cut-and-come-again crop that produces for quite some time and is also cold-hardy. Because it doesn’t ship well, you’re unlikely to find it at the grocery store. Growing the Swiss Chard is the only way to have such beautiful leaves. Fortunately, it’s easy to grow on land or in containers. 


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