How to Grow Swiss Chard – A Guide to Growing Swiss Chard (aka Chard, Silverbeet, Ruby Chard, Perpetual Spinach, Leaf Beet or Seakale Beet)
So many names for a crop that is so easy to grow. Chard is part of the chenopodiaceae family when it comes to crop rotation. The coloured stem varieties, such as Bright Lights, can look attractive enough to be planted in a flower border, so you can fit a few plants into any odd spaces. They also grow readily in containers.
The plants will produce for over a year so need a good supply of nutrients to keep them growing. A little general purpose fertiliser, such as Growmore or Blood, Fish & Bone can be applied a few weeks before sowing.
Sowing and Growing Chard
- Sow thinly in April, directly into good soil, preferably manured the previous winter. The plants will be in the ground producing for over a year and need a good supply of nutrients to keep them growing.
- A row of around 2 m (6 feet) should be sufficient for the average family, producing some 2Kg over the year.
- Once the seedlings are large enough to handle, thin to one plant per 20–30 cm (8–12 inches).
- Keep weed-free and water in dry weather.
Pests and Problems with Chard
Slugs like to eat seedlings and small plants, but are much less of a threat once the Chard has developed.
A little general purpose fertiliser, as above, can be applied again if the growth looks weak later in the year.
Varieties of Chard
There are almost more names for chard than seed varieties – Swiss Chard, Silverbeet, Ruby Chard, Perpetual Spinach, Leaf Beet or Seakale Beet.
Bright Lights – The most ornamental of swiss chards, offering coloured stems in classic red, white, pink, violet, green, gold, orange, yellow and some even striped! These wonderfully coloured stems are crowned with large foliage of green or bronze. Guaranteed to brighten the vegetable patch andideal for the flower border. Simply pick the delicious leaves or stems as required for use in salads/garnishes, or steamed. Has the RHS Award of Garden Merit
Leaf Beet Lucullus – A much more prolific form, with an abundance of large, tasty leaves and wide, white mid-ribs. Cook the succulent mid-rib like asparagus and serve with melted butter. Easier, and some consider tastier, than spinach. If the plants are left to flower, the flower stalks can be cooked and eaten like sprouting broccoli. Has the RHS Award of Garden Merit
Harvest the stalks and leaves as required, being careful not to disturb the roots. Take a few large outer leaves from each plant for cooking. If the stalks are to be eaten they are usually cooked for a little longer than the leaves.
You can harvest from the plants until the following June, by which time they will be tired and your replacement plants should be producing.