Friday, February 17, 2012

Swiss Chard Germination

      I have grown Swiss Chard for many years because it is an attractive plant, has few bug problems, stands up to the summer heat, and is quite easy to grow.  Just this year, we started using it for Spanakopita, so now we even eat what I grow.  I started the Bright Lights variety on February 3rd with the paper towel germination method, and got very good results.

      It is neat that even as seedlings, the stem color has already developed.  There are reds, pinks, yellows, and oranges.  They will keep these beautiful stem colors as they grow.

      The bumpy "seeds" of Swiss Chard are actually seed pods containing multiple seeds.  The pod in the middle of the photo has two yellow stem plants emerging.

      I transplanted two pods per cell, but you can see additional plants that have now sprouted from the pods.  I will have to try to tease the plants apart as they get bigger.

Fordhook Swiss Chard, back yard garden, 11/15/11
      This green form, Fordhook Giant, is supposed to be a bigger producer than the colored rib varieties.  Chard tries to overwinter here, but I usually lose a very high percentage of the plants.  Last fall after we cut the chard back to near the ground, I mounded the stumps with shredded leaves.  Several of the plants are trying to grow through the leaves now.

Overwintered chard stumps, 2/17/2012

      I would expect these plants to put on a growth spurt within the next month.  Should be able to get a harvest out of them before they go to seed.


  1. Lookin great! This will be my first year growing Chard. Other than what you wrote do you have any good advice for me?

  2. Hi Clint, this is a pretty good article on swiss chard: Chard can get pretty big leaves, so pick often to keep plants smaller.

  3. I grew swiss chard but no one liked them except for me.
    They do look pretty in the garden though.