Swiss chard is not only tasty – it’s ornamental, too. Its lush foliage comes in various colours, from lime green to ruby red. It looks great on a classic veg plot or allotment, as well as in ornamental borders or containers.
Chard can be sown from March to autumn (cover late sowings with fleece to speed up germination).
Put up wire mesh barriers if rabbits or deer are a problem. If they do get to the crop, cover the nibbled stumps with fine pest-proof mesh or fleece to conceal it. Tender new growth will quickly resprout.
Discover how to grow Swiss chard.
Swiss chard is not only tasty - it's ornamental, too.
You will need
Swiss chard seeds
Chard grows best in a sunny or partly shaded spot in well-drained but moisture-retentive soil. Fork over the ground and remove large stones, then rake it level.
Make a shallow rill (you can use the handle of your rake) and sow the seeds 1cm deep and 3cm apart. Water thoroughly.
Thin the seedlings when they’re 2-3cm tall and again a couple of weeks later, ultimately thinning to leave 25-30cm between plants. Water well to resettle the soil after thinning.
Chard is ready to harvest after 12 weeks for early sowing, and a little longer for late-summer and autumn sowings. Use a sharp knife to cut individual leaves from the outside of the clump.
Protect your crop from pests
Cover plants with fine pest-proof mesh or fleece, especially when the leaves are still fairly small and tender, to keep egg-laying butterflies and moths off the crop. Covering with mesh will also keep leaf miners at bay. This tiny pest tunnels inside the leaf, leaving a wiggly white line or an off-white blotch, particularly on white-veined chard. Keep plants covered until the plants are about three quarters of their final size – or harvesting size if you want total protection.
‘Bright Lights’ has vibrant red, orange, yellow, pink and white stems
‘Charlotte’ has pink stems and veins
‘Fordhook Giant’ has massive leaves, best harvested young