Swiss chard is a cool-weather vegetable grown for its tasty leaves. It is actually a beet that has been cultivated for its large edible leaves. There are many excellent varieties of Swiss chard, including Fordhook Giant, Bright Lights and Perpetual.
Although Swiss chard will grow in poor soil, it thrives if a little blood meal is worked into the bed. Plant seeds in early spring, when soil temperatures are between 50 and 65 degrees. Create shallow rows 18" apart. Place the seeds 2" apart in the rows and cover with 1/2" of soil. Water well.
Swiss chard will begin to germinate in about a week. When the seedlings are about 2" tall, thin them to one plant every 9" to 12". To remove seedlings, snip them off at soil level with a pair of scissors.
Midway through the growing season, give Swiss chard a boost with blood meal. Cover the blood meal with soil to keep it from washing away in the rain. Maintain an adequate level of moisture to prevent the plants from tasting bitter. A generous layer of mulch will help preserve moisture.
Swiss chard matures fully about three months after planting. Chard is a “cut-and-come-again” vegetable, which means that as outer leaves are removed, inner leaves will continue to replace them. When harvesting leaves, avoid cutting into the central growing bud as this will cause the plant to stop producing.