A member of the beet family, chard is both an ornamental and a vegetable crop in the home garden. Unlike other beets, chard is harvested for its leaves and stems which are used in dishes similar to spinach. Chard reaches impressive sizes---2 feet tall in some cases---and continues to grow into summer after other greens, such as lettuce, are no longer producing. Chard continues producing right into fall. The leaves are deep green and have white, yellow or red stalks.
Prepare a garden bed four weeks before the last spring frost date in your area. Choose a well-drained, weed-free bed in partial shade. Work in a 3 inch layer of compost with a hoe to aid drainage and add soil nutrients.
Sow eight to ten seeds per one foot row, sowing ¾ inch deep. Space rows 18 to 24 inches apart. Germination takes 7 to 21 days depending on soil temperature and chard variety.
Keep the soil moist at all times both before and after germination. Water as needed to keep the soil moist, but once a week deep watering is preferred over frequent light watering.
Thin seedlings to 6 inches apart once they have developed their second set of leaves. Choose the strongest and healthiest appearing seedling if they are clustered. Pull up the seedlings to thin or snip them of at the soil surface with scissors.
Harvest leaves from the outside of the plant once they are 8 to 12 inches long. Cut them off 1.5 inches from the ground.