Swiss chard is a vegetable in the genus beta, and is commonly grown and harvested for the foliage or the roots. Plants grown for leaf harvest are called chard, or Swiss chard, while those grown for root harvest are called beets. Chard leaves are green in color with red ribs. They are heavily used in Mediterranean cooking, and are often ingredients in salads. Swiss chard is an easy plant to grow, and requires only minimal maintenance.
Plant Swiss chard during the early spring in a location that receives full sunlight and has fertile, well-drained soil. Begin planting 2-3 weeks prior to the final frost of the year. Plant the seeds 1 inch deep in the soil with 3-6 inches separating it from other plantings.
Water the Swiss chard seeds 3-4 times a week, keeping the soil moist. Reduce watering to 2-3 times a week once the plants have emerged from the soil. Cease watering during winter, to reduce the chance of freezing damage.
Maintain a 2-inch layer of mulch around the Swiss chard to conserve moisture, suppress the growth of weeds and add extra nutrients to the soil as the mulch decomposes. Allow a small 2- to 3-inch space between the stem and the mulch to allow room for growth.
Check chard daily for aphid infestations, which can be identified by small, green insects and damaged foliage. Use a water hose to physically rinse any aphids off afflicted plants.
Harvest Swiss chard without damaging the plant by cutting the leaves off at about 1½ inches above the soil line. Do not cut too deeply, or the terminal bud that is vital to growth may be damaged. Alternatively, simply tear one or two outer leaves away from each plant.
Things You Will Need
- Water hose
- Swiss chard leaves are ready to harvest once they reach 8-12 inches in length.
- Shredded cedar is the recommended mulch for Swiss chard, as it is also a mild pest repellent.
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