How To Grow Chard…Just About All Year Long

fresh red chard growing in a planter
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Chard is a dark green cruciferous vegetable that is a nutritional superstar and very easy to grow in the home garden. This cool-season, leafy green vegetable is packed with fiber, protein, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, vitamins A, C, and K, and it’s naturally low in calories.

Nutritional Data on Chard

How To Grow Chard

As a cool-season crop, chard can be grown year-round for harvesting or used as a winter cover crop to improve garden soil structure. Chard plants can endure fairly cold temperatures and still thrive.

If you live in a more temperate climate, you may be able to grow chard year round!

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Gardening Tips

Planting Location

Select a planting location that is in partial shade and has well-draining soil. Chard grows best in cooler temperatures but some of the new hybrid cultivars will grow well during the heat of summer.

How To Plant Chard

Chard seeds can be sown directly into the garden soil as soon as the ground thaws in the spring. Seeds or plants can be planted until mid-spring in succession 2-weeks apart from early spring through mid-spring to extend the harvest time. Incorporate 2-inches of compost into soil and create rows that are 1/2-inch deep and 4-inches apart.

Plant chard seeds in the rows, cover with soil and water in well. Thin seedlings to 4 inches apart after germination. Add a 2-inch layer of organic mulch around plants to retain moisture, keep soil cool, and prevent weed growth. Working compost into the soil will also help promote drainage and increase soil fertility.

Chard is a heavy feeder and will need compost incorporated into the soil and placed around the plants to keep them growing. If your soil needs a fertilizer, consider adding an all-purpose organic fertilizer .

Pro-TipHow to Stop Cut Worm and Protect Garden Seedlings

{how to start seeds indoors!}

Seeds can be started indoors six to eight weeks before you’re ready to plant them outdoors. Here are 10+ simple seed starting ideas that are a snap to do. Plant your chard seeds in individual cell or small pots. A seed planting medium works the best results. Plant 2 to 3 chard seeds in each cell or small peat pots. Cover lightly with 1/4 inch planting mix and tap into place.

Gently water making sure the seeds are not exposed above the soil. Keep your grow light close to the surface of the soil to ensure hardy stem growth as the seeds germinate.

Make sure the soil is damp but not soggy. When the first true leaves appear, you can transplant the seedlings into 4 inch peat pots or growing containers. Consider planting your seedling outdoors when they are about 4 inches tall.

Transplant seedlings into prepared soil after all danger of frost has passed in the spring or late summer when temperatures have cooled. Make sure to read the important information below on how to prevent cutworm damage to young seedlings.

Seeds can also be planted directly into prepared garden soil or outdoor containers after frost danger has passed. (Chard is frost hardy but the seeds will germinate at a much slower rate in cold, wet soil.)

Carefully place 2 to 3 seeds every 10 to 12 inches on top of prepared soil and cover with 1/4-inch of soil or compost.

Tap the soil to settle the seeds and gently sprinkle with water. This is the best water can.

Beginners Guide to Composting

Harvest Time

For the sweetest flavor and most tender leaves and stems, allow the chard leaves to reach 4-inches in height, then remove the entire plant from the garden soil. For stronger chard flavor, allow leaves to reach 8-inches tall then cut off leaves 1-inch above soil level.

The remainder of the plant can be left in the soil and turned under as green manure. Chard is in the beet family and their leaves are cooked like beet greens or spinach.

If you live in a colder climate, consider digging out a couple of you chard plants, potting them and then placing the newly potted plants in a small greenhouse or in a sheltered location for continual harvesting of these nutritious leaves far into the fall and early winter.

transplanted garden chard plants that have been replanted in a greenhouse garden flower pot
Chard Plants Transplanted into Greenhouse for Winter

Cover Crop

After harvesting garden crops, work organic matter into the soil and scatter chard seeds on top. Sprinkle 1/2 inch of soil on top and allow chard seeds to germinate and grow as a winter cover crop. This will help prevent soil erosion, compaction, and increase soil fertility. Turn plants under in the spring to increase fertility

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Happy Gardening!

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