Swiss Chard

How to grow Swiss chard

Swiss chard is a delicious alternative to spinach – we show you how to grow it in this Grow Guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Sow
Sow

Do not Sow in January

Do not Sow in February

Do not Sow in March

Do Sow in April

Do Sow in May

Do Sow in June

Do Sow in July

Do Sow in August

Do not Sow in September

Do not Sow in October

Do not Sow in November

Do not Sow in December

Harvest
Harvest

Do not Harvest in January

Do not Harvest in February

Do not Harvest in March

Do not Harvest in April

Do not Harvest in May

Do not Harvest in June

Do not Harvest in July

Do Harvest in August

Do Harvest in September

Do Harvest in October

Do Harvest in November

Do not Harvest in December

  • Average Yield

    6kg per 3m row

  • Spacing

    25cm apart

A delicious alternative to spinach, Swiss chard is easy to grow and relatively low maintenance.

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With its ornamental leaves and stems, it looks just as good in containers and borders as the vegetable plot. Packed with vitamins, the leaves make a colourful addition to stir fries and soups and very young, tender leaves are great in salads. The stalks can be cooked separately and are equally tasty.

Follow the advice in this handy guide to grow your own Swiss chard.

Young chard leaves are delicious eaten fresh and you can use early thinnings for salads.

Sowing Swiss chard seeds
Sowing Swiss chard seeds

Sowing Swiss chard seeds

Make a shallow drill in well-prepared soil in a sunny spot and sow your Swiss chard seeds thinly, approximately 1.5cm deep. Cover seeds with soil and water well. Sow in rows 40cm apart. You can sow chard from March to September.

Check out this detailed step-by-step guide to sowing Swiss chard seeds.

Swiss chard seedlings
Swiss chard seedlings

Looking after Swiss chard

As the seedlings begin to grow, thin out the plants so that they’re 25-30cm apart. Water well after thinning. Keep an eye out for pests, but apart from watering, this is an easy vegetable to look after. Sow seeds every few weeks for a continuous crop that’ll see you through the winter months, with just a little protection.

Swiss chard can be grown successfully in containers and even in among your flower borders, where it will complement the hot colours of late summer flowers.

Snipping fresh chard leaves
Snipping fresh chard leaves

Harvesting Swiss chard

Young chard leaves are delicious eaten fresh and you can use early thinnings for salads. The fully-formed leaves will be ready to harvest about 10-12 weeks after sowing, but late summer sowings may take a little longer. Cut individual leaves as you need them and the plant will keep producing new growth.

Check out this advice on harvesting Swiss chard, carrots and beetroot.

Storing, preparing and using Swiss chard

Swiss chard is best eaten soon after picking. However, leaves can be blanched and frozen for later use in soups.

See some of the tasty recipes using Swiss chard, from our friends at Olive Magazine.

Netting Swiss chard
Netting Swiss chard

Chard: problem solving

Swiss chard is a relatively trouble-free vegetable apart from attacks on seedlings by slugs and snails, so do put some protection in place after sowing.

Some varieties, particularly the ones with red stems can be prone to bolting.

Beet leaf miner can also affect chard. These are flies whose maggots tunnel inside the leaves creating blotches that eventually turn brown and affect the growth of the plant, particularly early in the season. The best way to deal with this problem is to try to squash the maggots in the blotchy areas or to net crops.

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Organic tip

Crop rotation is important as this can prevent any overwintering maggots of the beet leaf miner from affecting your chard crop.

Swiss chard 'Bright Lights'
Swiss chard ‘Bright Lights’

Swiss chard varieties to try

  • ‘Bright Lights’ RHS AGM – with rainbow-coloured stems and green and leaves of green or bronze. Good for harvesting into the late autumn months, it can also be overwintered for an early spring crop
  • ‘White Silver’ RHS AGM – with thick white stems and dark green leaves this is a classic Swiss Chard. A hardy variety, good for cropping through early winter
  • ‘Fantasy’ – a lovely red-stemmed Swiss chard with a mild flavour and notable for its good tolerance of downy mildew
  • ‘Bright Yellow’ RHS AGM – with golden yellow stalks, this is a lovely variety that’s slow to bolt and very hardy over winter. It’ll also produce an early spring crop after the last of the late-autumn harvest
  •  ‘Green Wave’ RHS AGM – with green stems and leaves, this looks much more like spinach. The flavour is a little milder and it’s less prone to bolting