Swiss Chard is a vegetable overlooked in most vegetable gardens. Yet it is one of the most nutritious and definitely one of the easiest to grow. Chard has few if any insect or disease problems. Swiss chard, also known as chard, is a close relative of the beet. But unlike most beets, chard is grown for its tasty, vitamin-rich greens, rather than its root.
Probably people hesitate because they don’t know how to use it. Think spinach or beet greens, and you know how to cook Swiss Chard. The leaves can be cooked like beet greens or spinach and the midribs or stalks can be cooked like asparagus or celery.
The large, fleshy leaf stalks can be white, yellow or red, with broad, crisp, dark green leaf blades. In many ways, Swiss chard is similar to Chinese cabbage. It's an attractive plant and can be planted in ornamental flower beds because it's so pretty. You don’t need many Chard plants to keep a family of four in tasty greens all season long. Think two or three plants per person and you’ll have greens at least once a week.
Chard prefers cool temperatures, but is more tolerant of heat than spinach. Chard will produce greens steadily throughout the summer. Plants are going to grow to 24 to 30 inches tall, and be about 3 feet wide, so give them good space, about 12 to 15 inches apart. These plants have a healthy root system that can go down 3 to 4 feet depending on soil conditions.
Chard requirements are pretty easy to meet:
Light: tolerates light shade
Soil: well-drained loam
pH: 6.0 to 7.0
Moisture: moist, but not waterlogged
Days to Maturity: 50 to 60 days from seed
Good Source of Info On Swiss Chard Varieties
For excellent info on the best Swiss Chard varieties by state go to the vegetable variety data collection project at Cornell University - www.vegvariety.cce.cornell.edu. We urge you to join this valuable site and contribute your own ratings of varieties.