The chard ( Beta vulgaris ) is a green leaf vegetable which is substituted for spinach in any recipe. It enhances gratins thanks to its colored petioles (green, white, red, yellow or orange, depending on the variety).

It is consumed for its fleshy leaves, but also for its cards (stems).

When to plant Swiss chard? 

How to Grow Swiss Chard

Heather Barnes - Unsplash

Swiss chard seeds should be planted in the vegetable garden once all risk of night frost has passed, between late May and mid-June. The important thing is that the temperature of the earth is not colder than 10 ° C.

To take advantage of an early harvest, indoor seedlings can be done about 6 weeks before transplanting them to the garden. To do this, plant 3-4 seeds in a pot and cover with a thin layer of soil. After 10-12 days, or when the plants have 3 leaves, thin out leaving only the most vigorous plant.

Transplant to the vegetable garden once the danger of frost has passed. Small seedlings should be planted at 40 cm intervals in rows 40-50 cm apart.

Growing Swiss chard in the garden

It is also possible to plant the seeds directly in the garden, when it is warm enough. In this case, 3-4 seeds should be sown in a small hole, spacing these pockets (holes) by 40 cm. Water everything abundantly.

The rows should also be spaced 40-50 cm apart. When the plants reach about 10 cm, keep only one plant per pocket, the most vigorous.

In what type of soil?

She likes a soil preferably clay-lime, well drained and which retains moisture well. The soil should also be deep, rich in organic matter (humus, compost) and of neutral pH.

What exhibition?

Swiss chard can be planted in the sun, but it does not like hot weather. Consequently, it will have to be protected in the middle of summer.

It is one of the rare vegetables that are satisfied with exposure to shade or partial shade: you might as well take the opportunity to use this part of the garden, or when you do not have a large sunny space ( urban garden).

The interview

This vegetable requires little maintenance. However, it has certain requirements if we want to make it a good crop:

  • It tolerates heat well, but hates drought. It should be well watered, especially on the hottest days.
  • To retain moisture, it is best to cover the soil at its base with mulch.
  • We water deeply, directly at the foot of the plant, preferably in the morning or at the end of the day so that the water does not evaporate too quickly.

Pests and diseases to watch out for

Like all vegetable plants, Swiss chard can be affected by certain diseases and parasites (downy mildew, beet fly, aphids), but it is still particularly resistant.

Its biggest enemy is without a doubt the slug, against which it is necessary to be particularly vigilant, especially at the beginning of the season.

When and how to harvest Swiss chard?

The chard can be harvested 2 months after planting, that is to say, between July and August, according to the date the seeds were planted (domestic seeding or directly in the ground).

It continues to grow until fall, and can be grown throughout the warm season. You can also put the plants under a cover overnight during the first cold. This should allow the harvesting period to be extended by a few weeks.

The leaves of this vegetable are edible at all stages of development: small, medium, or even gigantic. To harvest them, simply pluck the outer leaves when they reach the desired size.

As we cut the outer petioles, we spread the inner leaves a little so that they open out and grow faster.

Not all inner leaves are touched, and these will continue to develop and produce until fall.

You can also cut all the leaves at once, just above the ground, to encourage the growth of small, tender leaves.

Good and bad associations with the vegetable garden

Swiss chard does not have a bad association with the vegetable garden. It grows well with most vegetables. She slightly pcarrots.onions , cabbages, garlic, radishes, and carrots