If you're growing Swiss Chard you can look forward to harvesting plenty of nutritious leaf vegetables for stir frying, steaming, casseroles or for salads. Quite versatile, really.
This delicious vegetable has many names, such as Silverbeet, Chard, Perpetual Spinach, Crab Beet, Seakale Beet, Mangold and Spinach Beet, so it must be well loved. It's related to Beetroot and has quite similar leaves. They're in fact both different varieties of the same species. Chard is however not related to Spinach.
The plant comes in a variety of colours. There is red stemmed silverbeet, yellow, orange, pink or the more common white. The leaves are anything from yellowish green to dark, almost black green.
Starting: Sow the seeds early in spring in colder areas, and at any time where it's warmer. Direct sowing is best as they resent being transplanted. The seeds will germinate in 2-3 weeks. Thin to space the seedlings 30 cm apart.
Soil: It's not a particularly fussy plant, but well drained, rich soil helps. Try growing chard if you have salty soil, as it quite likes this, just like it's cousin the Beetroot. Mulch in hot weather to prevent bolting.
Climate: With a bit of care chard grows in all climates. It's frost tolerant.
Watering: Regular watering. Can bolt in hot, dry weather if the soil dries out.
Fertilizing: Keep feeding it regularly with liquid fertilizer to promote good strong growth.
Harvesting chard: Pick the outer leaves as soon as these are large enough. Picking actually promotes new growth. Leave 5-6 in the middle. The plant is biennal, so it's happy harvesting for you for about 18 months.
Containers: Grows well in containers. Choose a pot at least 20 cm deep.
Shady areas: Tolerates some shade.