Nothing can pull someone’s eye toward a kitchen garden quite like the jewel-toned stems and rich green leaves of Swiss chard. In the same family as beets and spinach, Swiss chard packs a nutrient-dense punch unmatched by most other leafy greens. Even a small serving gives you more than your daily requirement of vitamins A and K, plus vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, vitamin E, plenty of antioxidants, and fiber.
Reasons to Grow Swiss Chard
If you’re not a huge fan of spinach or kale, consider substituting Swiss chard in your recipes or salads. Both the stems and leaves of chard are quite tasty and can be sautéd, tossed into a smoothie, baked, pickled, or eaten raw.
This is the ideal veggie for busy or inexperienced gardeners. Native to the Mediterranean, it can tolerate poor soil, water, and even sun conditions, though it flourishes in full sun.
Let’s look at some tips to grow your own Swiss chard in the greater Austin area and our favorite types to grow in our warmer climate.
Our Favorite Types of Swiss Chard to Grow in Texas
Try growing any of these colorful varieties to see which flavor and appearance you prefer. The following have done well in this area:
Pot of Gold Container Chard
This variety is beautiful with its vibrant golden stems and contrasting deep-green, savoyed leaves. It’s easy to grow, and as the name says, great for small garden spaces or containers. Harvest in 50 days. Shop seeds here.
Heirloom Rainbow Chard
You’ll love the rainbow-bright stalks of this Swiss chard variety. Since both the leaves and the crunchy stalks are edible, you can add pops of color and texture to your salad bowl. Harvest in 50 days. Shop seeds here.
Baby Leaf Chard
If you’re looking for a faster-growing chard, this one is perfect. It’s best sown thickly together so that you can harvest the small leaves often to use in salads and sautés. These small leaves will be more tender and have a mild flavor. Shop seeds here.
Other fun varieties to consider include:
I love the Swiss chard names that sound more like fun nailpolish colors than something super nutritious to grow at home. It makes it feel like a treat to add those seeds to my planting list!
How to Grow Swiss Chard
Grow Swiss chard under its preferred growing conditions to ensure lots of leafy success.
Swiss Chard Growing Season in Texas
Here in Austin, Texas, our cool season between late fall and early spring provides the ideal temps for this veggie.
But chard is actually a biennial plant, which means it has a two-year lifecycle in our milder climate.
Your plants will thrive when it’s cooler out, but they can still hang in there in warmer weather, especially if you give them some afternoon shade and keep them well watered. You might notice your plant doesn’t grow as quickly during our hot Texas summers.
Where to Grow Swiss Chard
You can certainly grow chard plants in pots that are at least 12 inches deep, but raised beds are the ideal spot for these leafy greens. The soil in raised beds gives chard roots plenty of room to dig down for water and resources.
Swiss chard loves rich organic soil that’s well draining. Add plenty of compost to your planting area or container.
Make sure the spot you’ve selected gets at least 4 hours of sunlight a day, though anything closer to 6 hours is much better.
Tips to Plant Chard from Seed
Swiss chard is easy to grow from seed. You can start seeds indoors or sow directly in the garden during cool and early warm seasons. When starting Swiss chard from seed, sow each seed about 1/2 inch to 1 inch deep.
Each seed is actually a cluster of seeds. Thin the seedlings to one plant when they’re about 3 to 4 inches tall. You’ll want your plants to be about 9 to 12 inches apart so they’ll have plenty of room to grow to their full and glorious potential.
Keep newly planted Swiss chard covered with garden mesh cloth to prevent pests from attacking the tender, young leaves (so tempting!).
Tips to Care for Growing Swiss Chard Plants
Swiss chard is pretty fuss free but to keep your plants at their happiest, fertilize them once a month with some MicroLife Ocean Harvest. Plants that give you so much nutrition in each bite need to be grown in nutrient-rich soil that’s regularly resupplied.
Keep the soil evenly moist for your swiss chard. Water regurlary by hand or a drip irrigation system.
How to Harvest Swiss Chard
Swiss chard is a “cut-and-come-again” kind of crop, which means you can keep harvesting leaves all season.
You can begin harvesting Swiss chard about 45 to 60 days after planting from seed. Your plant should be taller than six inches by this point.
To harvest chard, gently twist and pull on the stem.
Take the older outer leaves and allow at least 3 to 4 of the younger leaves to continue growing for next time. By harvesting regularly, you can encourage your plant to keep on producing. It’s really that easy.
Throughout the plant’s growing cycle, you can harvest young, tender leaves or wait for full-size leaves.
Young leaves are great to add to salads and smoothies. Full-size leaves are great in sautés with garlic and lemon, or added to soups or eggs with mushrooms. The leaves make a great wrap for veggie sandwiches. You can also make Swiss chard pesto for a fun twist on the classic recipe.
You can separate the leaves from the stems for cooking with a sharp knife.
How to Store Swiss Chard Leaves
Wash your leaves and store them in the refrigerator inside a ventilated container for use within the next one to two days. You could also chop and freeze to add to smoothies or soups later.
For longer-term storage and to save on freezer space, dehydrate the leaves or freeze dry them for a greens powder you can add to smoothies or soups. Shop my favorite freeze dryer here.
Lettuce Help You Grow
You will not regret adding this stunning and tasty plant to your garden. CLICK HERE TO GROW WITH US if you’d like to learn more about other easy-to-grow edible plants here in Austin, Texas, or if you’d like to get your own growing space set up this season.
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