How to Grow Swiss Chard from Seed to Harvest
You want to grow swiss chard at home? Great! I show you how to grow swiss chard from seed to harvest step-by-step in this article.
Moreover, I also provide you with some general useful tips on how to grow swiss chard in the best possible manner at the end of this article.
I also included some videos from other passionate gardeners to make this chard grower’s guide even more comprehensive. Enough talk, let’s grow it! 😉
Table of Contents
Swiss Chard Plant Profile
|Size||Around 1 foot tall and 1 -2 feet spread.|
|Climate||Swiss chard doesn’t like the heat and grows best in rather cool climatic zones with optimal temperatures between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.|
|Sun Exposure||Even though swiss chard doesn’t like warm environments, it still grows best with many hours of direct sunlight.|
|Soil Requirements||Swiss chard prefers slightly acidic soil with an optimal pH between 6.2 and 6.5.|
|Country of Origin||Greece (not Swiss, surprisingly 😉 )|
|Growing Difficulty||Intermediate. While you don’t need any expert knowledge to grow swiss chard, you should still read all the advice in this grower’s guide to maximize your yields as best as possible.|
|Perennial?||No, swiss chard is grown as an annual and is harvested within the first year.|
|When should you start?||You should start indoors around one month before you expect the last spring frost. If you want to start your growing project outdoors, make sure to wait until you don’t expect spring frost anymore in the respective year.|
|Expected Yield & Harvest||You can harvest one swiss chard head per plant which can give you a nice yield since swiss chard heads can get pretty big.|
|What to do with it?||You can use swiss chard for salads, soups or many other dishes.|
What Types and Varieties of Swiss Chard can you grow?
The first step for planning your swiss chard growing project is to choose the variety of chard you want to grow. I listed the most popular swiss chard varieties for you below.
- Bright Lights
- Fordhook Giant
- Magenta Sunset
- White King
My favorite chard variety to grow is Bright Lights since it has such a nice color and looks really exciting. Moreover, it also delivers quite decent yields and has a fresh taste.
However, this is just me. You should figure out for yourself which swiss chard variety you want to grow.
If you don’t know what’s your favorite swiss chard variety yet, I advise you to just grow various different chard varieties and figure out which ones you like most.
You can also use a chard seed mix and you are good to go.
Growing more than one swiss chard variety can be quite exciting since you will be able to grow and harvest chard with many different shapes and colors and I highly recommend you grow different varieties, especially if you have never grown chard before.
When should you start to grow Swiss Chard?
You should start growing your swiss chard early on in the year.
If you want to grow your chard seedlings indoors and transplant them outdoors later on, I suggest you start around 4 – 6 weeks before you expect the last freeze.
In most moderate climatic zones, this will be between March and April.
If you want to directly start growing your swiss chard outdoors, you should plant your seeds around one week before you expect the last freeze.
However, please note that planting your chard directly outdoors can be a quite risky endeavor since your small chard seedlings will be quite vulnerable to snails and other animals and they will also be rather sensitive to the cold.
Hence, I advise you to start your swiss chard growing project indoors around mid of March and you should be just fine.
How long does it take to grow Swiss Chard from Seed to Harvest?
It will take between 3 and 4 months to grow your swiss chard from sowing to harvest.
However, please note that this doesn’t mean that you should harvest the whole plant at once.
It means that you should just harvest a few big leaves and let smaller ones grow even further.
Thus, harvesting swiss chard is not a one-time thing, you can continue to harvest swiss chard leaves for many weeks.
What is the best Climate to grow Swiss Chard?
Swiss chard grows best in moderate to cool climatic zones. In fact, swiss hard likes colder climates and this is also the reason why you should start relatively early in the year with growing your swiss chard.
However, swiss chard is rather tolerant towards climatic conditions and even if you live in warmer climatic zones, you will be just fine as long as you start early enough with your growing efforts.
What Temperatures does Swiss Chard like?
Swiss chard grows best with temperatures between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, seed companies did a great job over the past decades and many chard varieties are now able to also grow outside this optimal temperature range.
Hence, even though you might not be able to offer those optimal temperatures to your chard, you will still be able to grow it as long as you don’t live in too extreme climatic zones.
What should you grow with your Chard?
If you want to know which plants you should grow next to your chard, check out the best and worst chard companion plants.
What do you need to grow Swiss Chard?
To make your growing experience as simple and enjoyable as possible, I recommend you get the equipment I listed for you below:
- Growing bed (to grow your swiss chard seedlings, only necessary if you don’t grow your swiss chard directly outside)
- Flower pots (only necessary if you don’t have a garden to grow your swiss chard)
- Swiss chard seeds
- Fertilizer (you can also make your own organic fertilizer for which I give you the instructions below)
- Potting soil
- Garden shovel
- Slug fence
- Watering can
- Compost (optional)
What Yield can you expect when you grow Swiss Chard?
Since you will harvest the plant itself, you can only expect to harvest one chard head per plant.
However, this doesn’t mean that your overall yield will be small.
Swiss chard can produce numerous leaves during one growing season and if you follow all the steps in this article, chances are that you will get quite decent yields.
Moreover, swiss chard also doesn’t need too much space, which means that you can grow many swiss chard plants if you have a big garden, which will multiply your yield.
Hence, you will be able to produce quite decent yields if you do everything right.
However, especially if you are still a beginner, your yields may be rather limited in the first year of growing since you will likely make some mistakes. However, don’t get discouraged if this happens.
We all started out as beginners and made mistakes. Just enjoy the growing experience more than the actual yield and you will have a great time growing swiss chard.
Why should you grow your own Swiss Chard?
Many people claim that growing swiss chard at home is just a waste of time and that it is just much easier to get swiss chard from the store.
While this is true from an effort perspective, there are still some important reasons to grow your own chard at home.
First of all, growing your own chard at home is simply quite a lot of fun and can be a quite nice hobby.
I personally love to see my swiss chard plants grow and don’t want to miss out on this nice opportunity to spend my time.
Moreover, by growing my own swiss chard, I can also greatly reduce my overall stress level.
In fact, many of us have so much to do in our daily life and since life has become so fast, many of us struggle to find inner peace.
Gardening is a great way to unplug from your daily life and to reduce your stress level since it is completely different from working in an office job.
Hence, if you are currently stressed and going to the gym doesn’t help, I recommend you just grow your own vegetables and fruits at home and see if it helps.
In addition, growing swiss chard in your garden or on your balcony also makes you more independent from conventional grocery stores since you can produce your own food.
You also don’t have to buy food that might be contaminated with pesticides and herbicides that are used in conventional agriculture on a regular basis.
By growing your own plants, you can make sure that you do so in a completely natural manner, which can be great for your overall health in the long run.
I hope you can see why growing chard at home can make quite a lot of sense, even though it might not make sense from a purely financial or from an effort perspective.
Growing Swiss Chard: Step-by-Step
1. Select a Site for your Swiss Chard
Before you can start your swiss chard growing project, you first have to select the optimal site for growing your chards.
Does Swiss Chard like Sun or Shade?
Swiss chard grows best in full sun. However, this doesn’t mean that you urgently have to provide those conditions. Of course, you can also grow your swiss chard in half-shady environments.
However, please note that if you don’t provide optimal conditions, your chard will usually grow slower and will also not produce the same yields.
Hence, just pick the sunniest spot in your garden or on your balcony and grow your swiss chard there.
What are the Soil Requirements of Swiss Chard?
Swiss chard grows best in rich and loose soil that is well-drained so that no water puddles form which could potentially let the roots of your plants rot.
Moreover, swiss chard prefers a soil pH between 6.2 and 6.5, meaning that the soil should be slightly acidic.
However, most chard varieties are usually quite tolerant towards soil pH and even if you are a little bit outside this range, it will not matter too much.
Therefore, just get some potting soil from the store. You can also enrich it with compost or you can also add some soil from your garden to the mix.
By using this healthy soil mix, you can be sure that your swiss chard will grow in a decent manner.
How much Space do Swiss Chard Plants need?
For each chard plant, I would suggest you plan at least 3 square feet of space.
Of course, the more space you offer to your chard plants, the better they will grow.
Hence, if you have a big garden and more than enough space, feel free to give your swiss chard much more space.
Should you plant Swiss Chard in a Pot or in your Garden?
While growing swiss chard in pots is possible, I always advise people to grow chard in their garden if possible.
Your chard will grow much better in your garden since it will have more space to develop and the conditions in your garden will also be more natural compared to just using a pot.
Of course, if you live in a flat and only have a balcony instead of a garden, you will have no other choice than to grow chard in pots.
However, as mentioned before, if you have a garden, do yourself a favor and grow your chard plants there.
2. Plant Swiss Chard Seeds
After you figured out the perfect location for your chard growing project, it is now time to get into the real seeding process.
Should you buy Swiss Chard Seeds or Seedlings?
For that, you first have to decide if you want to grow your own chard seedlings or if you rather want to rely on seedlings from the garden center.
I personally always recommend you grow your swiss chard from seed instead of just using seedlings from the store since only then will your growing experience be really complete.
You will also learn a lot regarding how to grow seedlings and can transfer this knowledge to various other growing projects.
I will also show you how to grow swiss chard seedlings step-by-step in the following.
Hence, just stick with me and you will do just fine with growing your own chard seedlings at home.
Should you buy Swiss Chard Seeds or produce Seeds by yourself?
After I hopefully convinced you that growing your own chard seedlings is indeed a good idea, you also have to decide where to get your seeds from.
In your first growing season, you will have no other choice than to get them online or from your garden center.
However, after you have successfully grown your first chard, you can save seeds and use those seeds for many years still to come.
Hence, for your first year of growing swiss chard, just get some seeds from a seed company and you are good to go.
How to plant Swiss Chard Seeds
Now that you got your swiss chard seeds, it is time to plant them into the soil.
If you want to start growing your chard indoors and transplant them outdoors later on, just fill your growing bed with soil and place your chard seedlings onto the soil.
Make sure that each seedling has at least 4 inches of space to each other so that your seedlings will not conflict with each other.
After placing all of your seeds, make sure to cover them with a little bit of additional soil of around 1 inch in height.
Place your growing bed in a bright and warm spot inside your four walls and water it.
If you want to sow your swiss chard seeds directly outside, wait until there is no freeze anymore and sow them directly into your garden.
However, I would not recommend you do so since your seedlings will be quite vulnerable to outside conditions and many of them will die off.
Hence, just start growing your seedlings inside your home and you will be good to go.
Also make sure that you plant more seeds than you want to get seedlings since some seeds will just not germinate and will rot in the soil.
I suggest a ratio between 2:1 between seeds and the required number of seedlings you want to get.
After you finished this step, it is now time to wait a little bit until you will see the first results.
How long does it take to see the first Swiss Chard Seedlings?
It will usually take between one and two weeks until you will see the first swiss chard seedlings.
However, this doesn’t mean that all of your chard seeds will germinate at the same time.
It can take up to one month until you should no longer expect any new seedlings reaching the soil surface.
Hence, if you haven’t grown enough chard seedlings after one month, you should plant some additional seeds into the growing bed.
How to protect your Swiss Chard Seedlings indoors
You don’t need any protective indoors since your chard seedlings will be perfectly safe inside your growing bed.
Only if you have pets, make sure that your pets will not be able to reach your growing bed to avoid any unpleasant consequences 😉.
When should you transplant your Swiss Chard Seedlings?
After a while, your chard seedlings will get bigger and stronger every day and the time will come when you will have to transplant them outdoors.
However, before you consider transplanting your swiss chard outdoors, there are some things to consider.
First, I recommend you wait until there is no freeze outside anymore.
While swiss chard can deal with a certain level of freeze once your plants get bigger, smaller plants may suffer quite a lot from it.
Moreover, you should also wait until your swiss chard reaches a certain minimum height.
I advise you not to transplant your seedlings outdoors unless your chard seedlings have reached a minimum height of at least 5 feet.
If those criteria are fulfilled, you first need to prepare your growing site in your garden before you can actually transplant our seedlings.
To use your space in the most efficient manner, I recommend you grow your swiss chard in rows.
Make sure that every row has at least 2 feet space to the next row and that each plant has at least 1 foot of space to each other.
Dig those rows accordingly in your garden and make sure that each row is around one foot deep.
After you dug those rows, it is time to fill them will a mix of potting soil and the soil from your garden.
You can also add some compost to make the soil even richer if you want to.
After you prepared this soil mix, just fill it in the rows. Now you are ready to transplant your chard seedlings into your garden.
Alternatively, if you want to grow your chard in pots, just fill each pot with potting soil and transplant your seedlings to your pots.
When you are finished, just water your plants and you are done.
What kind of Protection do Swiss Chard Seedlings need outdoor?
Now that your chard seedlings face the harsh reality outdoors, you should add some additional protection.
In fact, if you don’t, snails and other animals will be quite thankful to be able to feed on your seedlings and they will soon be gone.
While many people rely on chemical measures to keep away snails and other unwanted animals, I am not a big fan of that since those chemicals can be quite harmful to our environment.
Instead, I recommend you just use simple but effective slug fences to protect your chard and you will be good to go.
If you want to add further protection, you can also install some bigger fences to also deter bigger animals.
3. The Swiss Chard Growth Process
After you protected your chard plants properly, you have already done the hardest part of the whole project! If you made it to this point, congratulations!
From now on, your chard plants will get stronger every day and you will not have to worry about them too much anymore.
However, there are still some things to consider for the remaining growth process which I want to address in the following.
Should you prune your Swiss Chard?
No, there is absolutely no need to prune your swiss chard. In fact, pruning your chard would do much more harm than good since it would greatly reduce your overall yield. Hence, just let it grow and nature will do the rest for you. 😉
Do you have to pollinate your Swiss Chard Plants by Hand?
No, there is no need to pollinate your swiss chard plants by hand. No manual work is required from you in this regard.
Should you stake your Swiss Chard?
Since swiss chard will grow relatively small and compact, there is also no reason to stake and stabilize your chard.
Instead, just let it grow and if you provide optimal growing conditions, your chard will be able to resist winds and other harsh conditions on its own.
4. The Swiss Chard Harvest
After you did all the work and followed all the steps closely, you can expect a pretty decent chard harvest.
When should you harvest your Swiss Chard?
Depending on how early in the year you planted your chard, it can take until the mid of summer or even autumn until you will be finally able to harvest your chard.
When you should actually start harvesting your swiss chard plants is up to you.
In fact, you can either harvest tender baby leaves or wait until they get really big.
I would personally only harvest the big leaves and give the smaller leaves time to grow bigger to get a higher yield.
You don’t have to harvest your swiss chard as a whole, you can just harvest the leaves over many weeks or even months.
How to store your Swiss Chard?
There is actually no good way to store your chard. The best way would be to just put them in the freezer. However, even then will your swiss chard leaves lose its taste and its texture.
Hence, I suggest you just eat your chard right after the harvest and you are good to go.
It is also quite easy since you just have to harvest your chard leaves in case you need them and can let them grow otherwise.
What should you do with your Swiss Chard?
Swiss chard is perfect for various different salads. You can also cook it and serve it as a nice side dish. You can even make a chard soup if you like to.
Just do with your swiss chard whatever you like most. After all, you did all the work and you should be the one who decides what to do with the fruits of your labor.
Swiss Chard Plant Care Tips
You have already got the step-by-step approach on how to grow swiss chard from seed to harvest.
However, some general information regarding plant care is still missing which I provide you with in the following.
How often should you irrigate Swiss Chard?
You should irrigate your chard whenever the soil is dry. That being said, I don’t mean the soil surface. I mean the soil a few inches below the surface.
To find out whether the soil is dry or wet right now, just dig a small hole with your finger into the soil next to your chard plant.
If you pull your finger out and no soil sticks to your finger, the soil is dry and you should not water your plants.
If plenty of soil sticks to your finger, this means the soil is still wet and you don’t have to water your plants.
Of course, you will not be able to use this trick anymore once you’ve become more experienced.
In fact, many people see from the visual appearance of their chard whether it needs water or not.
Hence, after a while, you will develop a really good intuition regarding when it will be time to water your plants.
At what Time of the Day should you water your Swiss Chard Plants?
In general, most gardening experts claim that the best time to water your swiss chard is in the early morning.
However, in my opinion, it doesn’t matter too much at what time of the day you water your plants.
Instead, I recommend you just water them on a regular basis at a time that fits your personal schedule.
How often should you fertilize your Swiss Chard Plants?
If you have already offered your chard plants a healthy soil mix, there will be no need to add additional fertilizer during the growth process.
In fact, many beginners make the mistake to use too much fertilizer, which can do much more harm than good since it can burn the roots of your swiss chards.
Hence, if you want to use additional fertilizer, make sure to be quite careful not to use too much of it.
What kind of Fertilizer should you use for your Swiss Chard Plants?
I always recommend using organic rather than chemical fertilizers since they are much more eco-friendly and are also much better for your soil.
Consequently, if you want to add some additional fertilizer to your chards, make sure to order organic one online.
Alternatively, you can also make your own organic fertilizer.
If you know my articles, I always recommend you make stinging nettle liquid since it is so easy to make and it is also quite effective.
For that, just collect some stinging nettles, put them in a bucket full of water and wait for a few days so that plenty of nitrogen and other beneficial components can be released into the water.
After a few days, remove the stinging nettles. And here you go. You just created a perfectly natural fertilizer that you can use for many different plants in your garden.
If you want to use it as a fertilizer, just add some stinging nettle liquid to the watering can and you are good to go.
Should you use Pesticides or Herbicides for Growing Swiss Chard?
Stinging nettle liquid is not only great as fertilizer, but it can also help to deter many pests from your swiss chard plants.
Instead of just adding it to your watering can, you need to spray it onto the leaves of your plants.
Hence, there is just no need to use chemical pesticides and I recommend you use stinging nettle liquid as natural pesticide instead.
You can also remove weeds by hand so that you don’t have to use any chemical herbicides.
If you want to learn more about pest control, you should also have a look at how to control chard pests and diseases.
What’s left to say?
First of all, thanks for reading my article to this point. I know it was a quite long chard grower’s guide, but I have just not been able to make it any shorter without leaving out any information on how to grow swiss chard from seed to harvest at home.
I hope you enjoyed my article and that it provided some value to you. If so, make sure to share it!
Also feel free to read my growing chard FAQ section to get even more information on how to grow chard at home in the best possible manner.
About the author
My name is Andreas and I’m really passionate about our environment and also about growing plants. In fact, I have grown several different plants over many years. I love to see my own plants grow and always try new things.
In my blog posts, I want to share my experiences with you so that you can become successful in growing various different plants, even if you are still a beginner right now.