Ruby Swiss chard.
image by Botanical interests: Flickr.com
Swiss chard is an easy-to-grow leaf vegetable. While it appears to be from the spinach, cabbage or lettuce family, it is actually from the beet family. The leaves are most nutritious eaten raw as part of a green salad. However, the leaves and stalks are used in various dishes, both cooked and raw. The two most common varieties of Swiss chard are ruby red (red stalks) and whiti (white stems).
Choose a partial-shade location in your garden to plant Swiss chard. It prefers a cool location.
Work the soil with your shovel, removing any rocks or debris. Mix in compost and manure. Although Swiss chard will grow in harsh conditions, it will flourish when given attention and nutritious soil.
Create a row in your garden area. Pull your hoe to make two indented rows, parallel to each other and about 1 foot apart. Let the soil mound to the inside of each row.
Plant the Swiss chard seeds in early spring, as soon as you can work the soil. Sow the seeds about 1 inch apart, and 1 inch deep. Cover the seeds with soil. If the seed package has alternate directions, follow them. Different varieties (hybrids) may have differing planting requirements.
Keep the topsoil of the plants moist until germination (when they pop through the soil).
Thin (take out) seedling about two weeks after they pop out of the soil. Space the healthiest plants about 2 to 3 inches apart.
Water your Swiss chard plants along with your other garden vegetables, about once a week. If there is an especially hot spell, give your plants an extra watering. If the leaves begin to wilt, the Swiss chard needs water.
Harvest the outside leaves, as needed, by cutting them at the bottom. The whole plant is ready to be harvested when it is approximately 12 to 14 inches tall. Cut it with a sharp knife close to the earth, or pull up the whole plant. Your seed packet will give you explicit information regarding your particular variety of Swiss chard.