Swiss Chard: Ruby RedsSwiss Chard has been the most successful green, leafy vegetable grown here at Greenhorn Gardening. However I have had several pitfalls before finding a system that consistently produces strong Swiss chard plants. Here are a few insights gleaned from the past four growing seasons:

  1. Don't plant them in autumn; plant them in spring.
  2. Don't direct plant. Start in flats.
  3. Avoid dense, clayey soil. Transplant them into a well-drained soil high in organic matter.
  4. Avoid giving them too much cold early in development, they'll go longer without bolting.
  5. Young leaves are better for salads. Older, bigger leaves are better for cooking.

Here's Why: 


Swiss chard are leaf beets, i.e., beets without a bulbous root. However they still have a long tap root and need a well-drained soil to properly develop. They can be a bit spindly when young, so starting in flat, then transplanting them give them much more support, making for a much stronger plant. Swiss chard is known for going two years without bolting, but if subjected to too much cold weather early in it's development, it may bolt out sooner. Thus planting in spring when it is always getting warmer is a better environment for the plant to develop.


Grow'em big!


6 Responses to “Five Things To Avoid While Planting Swiss Chard”

  1. Chris Says:

    Interesting timing on this post, I was just about to plant some in the next few days for the first time.
    However being in Australia, it's Autumn, and I have actually been waiting until cooler weather to plant as per the intructions on the seed packet. Oh well, I guess I'll see how it goes and keep this advice in mind for the future.
    I'm just wondering, how much is too much cold weather? It doesn't really get cold here, never below freezing, and only rarely getting near it during the coldest part of the night in the middle of winter, and that being a while away yet.

  2. Damon Says:

    Oh, yeah, you’ll be fine. Go ahead an plant them. By cold I mean near arctic weather that many experience in the northern US. The tropical climate you’ve mentioned is fine to plant them now. What variety of chard are you planting?

  3. Chris Says:

    Chard 'Ruby', syn. Rhubarb Chard. This will actually be my first time at growing leafy greens, also have some kale seeds (limited garden space to do too much).
    As for norhern US, I wouldn't have thought any leafy greens would work in that sort of cold, thought it must have been referring to a more southern climate.

  4. Damon Says:

    Yeah, I like the old Ruby Reds. They make your garden look like Christmas!

  5. Shannon Says:

    Hello. I planted Swiss Chard in the Fall, but I started them indoors and then moved them to a small greenhouse on the balcony. They did pretty well in the cool weather. I'm heard they are better in the Spring so I just planted some. We'll see how it goes. Someone's comment mentioned cold weather and kale. I have kale which has been outside all winter (Japan winter which is comparable to perhaps a coastal Carolina winter). The kale and spinach have proven to do excellent in cold weather. So has the turnip greens and endive. I have limited garden space also and all the greens mentioned above did well in small to medium containers on my balcony or windowsill.

  6. Damon Says:

    Yeah, Shannon, I've had much the same experience.

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