Hero Image

Edibles Grow Sheets

Chard (Swiss Chard)

  • Scientific Name
    Beta vulgaris var. cicla
  • General Information

    Swiss chard is a member of the beet family, but it has no storage root. It is grown for its leaves. It's easy to grow and produces for months. Swiss chard is a cool season crop best grown in cooler temperatures. It grows most all year in Marin's cooler climates. The large leaves and colorful stalks are nutritious -- just like beet tops.

  • When to Plant

    Start chard indoors in January. Direct seed and transplant February through March and into April in cooler climates. May be planted again in late summer and fall.

  • Planting

    Sow the seeds a half inch deep, two inches apart, in rows spaced 18 inches apart. Thin seedlings to 12 inches apart when they are large enough to handle. Use thinnings as salad greens.

  • Soil Requirements

    Grow Swiss chard in well-drained soil with lots of organic matter (to ensure aeration and moisture retention.) Prefers soil pH between 6.0 and 6.8.

    The healthiest and best-tasting greens are those that grow quickly. The important contributors to rapid growth are a steady moisture supply and fertile soil rich with decomposed organic matter or compost. Organic matter helps retain moisture, adds nutrients, and improves poorly draining soil. 

  • Water Requirements

    Plenty of moisture is needed. Water well and mulch.

  • Fertilizing

    Amend planting beds a few weeks before planting with compost and other nutrients as indicated by a soil test kit. The day you plant use a premixed organic planting fertilizer, one in the range of 5-4-2. Follow the directions on the container. Swiss chard is a light feeder and usually will not need additional fertilizer during the growing season.

  • Pollination

    Swiss chard is harvested before pollination. Once flowers set, chard is wind-pollinated. 

  • Harvesting

    Outer leaves can be harvested continuously as soon as the plant is well established. Harvest by cutting or breaking away a few of the outer, fully expanded leaves. New leaves develop in the center of the plants. Continue to harvest for months until the plant bolts (sends up a flower stalk).

  • Storage

    After harvest, wash, and store in the refrigerator in the crisper drawer.

    Chard can be stored up to two weeks at 32°F and 95% relative humidity.

  • Good Varieties for Marin

    All varieties of Swiss chard thrive in Marin. Some varieties, such as 'Rainbow' and 'Bright Lights' feature stalks in brilliant tones of red, yellow, and orange.

  • Helpful Tips

    Chard is closely related to beets and needs similar care. Chard seeds are actually seed-clusters, so you typically get multiple seedlings from a single seed. Thin to the strongest one.

  • Common Problems

    Leafminers can leave twisting whitish trails on the leaves and are especially common in warmer weather.

    Aphids are sometimes found on the backs of the curling leaves. Blast off with the hose.

  • Pests- Diseases & More

    Powdery mildew, leafminers and other pests are common in the Chenopodiaceae (Goosefoot) family.