Ok, I have to admit I have never had a problem with getting my kids to eat their vegetables. As a matter of fact, the problem I had was keeping them from eating all the vegetables out of the garden and not leaving any for the rest of the family. This was especially true with cherry tomatoes and Swiss chard.
At this point, I know you are shaking your head in disbelief but…….the only salvation I had with these two vegetables was one, to fence the cherry tomatoes off and two, only grow the white-stemmed Swiss chard. While all Swiss chard is delicious, my daughter thought the colored stem variety was candy for garden fairies and would eat it up raw before nightfall.
Now that you know my Swiss chard story, let’s learn how to grow it for your own garden fairies and/or vegetable lover.
Swiss chard is a cool season green that should be planted in the spring and fall. When planning on growing this green for a spring harvest, you can either directly seed into the prepared garden space two weeks prior to your local frost free date. If you want to harvest your Swiss chard a little bit sooner, start your green indoors three to four weeks prior to your local frost free date. But since there really is not that much difference in time, I have found that seeding directly into the garden in the spring is the best approach.
On the other hand, if you want a fall crop you will need to plan to start your seeds indoors 10 weeks prior to your local frost free date. To prevent plant shock, make sure to harden off your seedlings four weeks prior to the date that you plan to plant your Swiss chard in your prepared garden.
When it comes to directly planting your Swiss chard seed, the first step is to prepare the garden space. You will need to loosen the soil and incorporate a large amount of organic matter into the soil. While you can broadcast the seed, it is better to mark rows with either powdered milk or use the string and stake method. Next, pull out your ruler and begin the planting process. Swiss chard seeds initially need to be spaced three inches apart at a ½ depth. Once all the seeds have been planted, mist the soil surface until the soil is evenly moist.
Continue to monitor soil moisture until the Swiss chard dies due to heat or cold.
After the seeds have germinated, you will need to thin the seedlings so that there is 12 inches between each plant. When doing this process, do not pull the plants out instead cut them to ground level with scissors.
If you started your plants indoors, space your seedlings so that there are 12 inches between each plant.