We’ve become accustomed to thinking about vegetables as great sources of phytonutrients. Indeed they are! But we don’t always appreciate how unique each vegetable can be in terms of its phytonutrient content. Recent research has shown that chard leaves contain at least 13 different polyphenol antioxidants, including kaempferol, the cardioprotective flavonoid that’s also found in broccoli, kale, strawberries, and other foods.
Swiss chard, which is also known as white beet, strawberry spinach, seakale beet, leaf beet, Sicilian beet, spinach beet, Chilean beet, Roman kale, perpetual spinach, silverbeet and mangold (and that’s just in English!) is bursting with nutrients, including vitamins K, A, C and E, plus several B vitamins, magnesium, manganese, potassium, iron and dietary fiber.
Height: 10″ – 12”
Optimum Soil Ph: 6.5 to 6.8
Days To Maturity: 50 – 60
Sowing Method: Outdoors
- Plant chard seeds 2 to 3 weeks before the last spring frost date. Continue planting seeds at 10-day intervals for a month.
- For a fall harvest, plant chard seeds again about 40 days before the first fall frost date.
- Before planting, mix 1 cup of 5-10-10 fertilizer into the soil for every 20 feet of single row.
- Plant the seeds 1/2 to 3/4 of inch deep in well-drained, rich, light soil. Space the seeds about 18 inches apart in single rows or 10 to 18 inches apart in wide rows. Sow eight to ten seeds per foot of row.
- When the plants are 3 to 4 inches tall, thin them out so that they are 4 to 6 inches apart or 9 to 12 inches apart if the plants are larger.
- Water the plants evenly to help them grow better. Water often during dry spells in the summer. You can also mulch the plants to help conserve moisture.
- For the best quality, cut the plants back when they are about 1 foot tall. If the chard plants become overgrown, they lose their flavor.
- Leaf minor
- You can start harvesting when the plants are 6 to 8 inches tall. Cut off the outer leaves 1-1/2 inches above the ground with a sharp knife.
- If you harvest the leaves carefully, new leaves will grow and provide another harvest.
- You can cut the ribs off the chard leaves and cook them like asparagus.
- The rest of the leaves are eaten as greens. You can cook them like spinach or eat them raw.
- You can store chard in the refrigerator in ventilated plastic bags.