Chard, sometimes called Swiss chard, is usually grown during cool seasons. It is best grown about one month after the frost has passed in springtime. To start early with planting, you can plant chars indoors a month before the last frost date so that they will be ready for transplanting when they are 3 to 4 inches tall. Chards can tolerate heat or frost once they are established. However, high temperatures can slow down chard’s leaf production.
Location. The soil shouldn’t be too acidic. The level of acidity that chards can tolerate is between 6.0 and 6.8. The soil should also be well-drained and rich in organic matter. Chards can be grown together with leeks, onions, mustards and garlic. However, do not make tomatoes, legumes, and potatoes as their neighbors.
Spacing and depth. Sow seeds half an inch deep into the soil. You can plant seeds in clusters. Make sure that the clusters are an inch apart from each other and the rows, about two feet apart. They can be crowded when grown; however, the plant will produce smaller leaves.
Nutritional needs. Chards need moisture to grow quickly and tenderly. However, too much water can rot the plant. For fertilizing, it is best to use compost to provide the plant’s nutritional needs especially during midseason.
Pests and diseases. Chards are resistant to plant diseases. However, they can be prone to leaf miners and aphids attacks. To control aphids, they can be hosed away with water or removing the affected leaves. For leaf miners, damaged leaves can also be damaged. You also have to check the leaves underneath for eggs; destroy if there are any.
Harvesting. Chards can be harvested two months after planting. Leaves can be picked when they grow as three inches long. The leaves can also grow as much as ten inches long. Leaves can grow back after harvest. When harvesting the whole plant, you can put the roots with the three-inch stem above it back to the soil. It will grow back after some time.
I’ve tried growing chard twice. The first from plants that I got at my local nursery, and the second time from seed. Both times, I expected the really big leaves, but they didn’t grow taller than 6″. So I’m wondering if I didn’t properly fertilize or what. Some people say that things grown in containers are smaller than that which grows in the ground. I’ll write more on this another time, but what do you think?