If I had to pick one vegetable that is extremely easy to grow, Swiss Chard would be my #1 pick. While other greens are wilting or bolting from the heat, Swiss Chard just laughs at the heat and flourishes. In addition, it is a stunner in the garden with its bright leaves and matching ribs. You could easily plant it among your other landscape plants to create a part edible landscape.
As you can tell from the picture, its leaf has an odd shape. Its leaf resembles a goose foot. Swiss Chard is a member of the Goosefoot family, of which beets and spinach are also members.
This colorful wonder is a powerhouse vegetable containing vitamins K, A, and C. In fact, one chopped cup of this vegetable provides 300% of your vitamin K daily requirement. Vitamin K consumption improves bone health, which reduces the risk of bone fractures.
In addition, it is a good source of potassium, iron, magnesium and dietary fiber.
Swiss chard also contains high levels of nitrates. Consuming high level of nitrates lowers blood pressure, enhances athletic performance and reduces the amount of oxygen needed during exercising.
And, there is more!
Swiss chard contains alpha-lipoic acid which lowers glucose levels. In turn, it increases insulin sensitivity and prevents oxidative stress-induced changes in diabetics.
However, if you suffer from kidney stones, WebMD advises that you should skip this vegetable. It is high in oxalates, which decreases the body’s absorption of calcium and can cause kidney stones.
When to Plant?
Swiss Chard is a cool weather plant although it doesn’t bolt like spinach or broccoli when the weather turns warmer. According to Cornell University, plant seeds 1/2 to 1 inch deep 2 to 3 weeks before your last expected spring frost. However, it doesn’t like prolonged freezes which can make it bolt.
I actually plant my seeds indoors under grow lights the same time that I plant broccoli and my other cold weather plants. Sometimes our Springs are just too cold to follow Cornell’s suggestion so I tend to plant a week or two before the last Spring Frost.
I also cover the plants if a frost is expected.
Plant in full sun; however, it will need afternoon shade when the weather becomes warm. In addition, Swiss Chard likes consistent watering.
I plant mine where it receives some afternoon shade with my other cold tolerant plants.
One year my Swiss Chard bolted since I just ignored it and didn’t pick it. Plus, I might have planted it to early in the season when it was too cold. (Take a look HERE.) In fact, Swiss Chard is a biannual and will flower in its second year if it survived harsh winters.
And sometimes, it does grow back which surprised the heck out of me.
To keep it healthy, pick often and always leave the smaller inside leaves.
Swiss Chard Varieties:
There are many varieties of Swiss Chard to choose from. Cornell Garden Based Learning contains a list of different varieties. My favorites from the list are as follows:
- Verde De Taglio Swiss Chard (Thin leaves and mild spinach like taste.)
- Rainbow Swiss Chard–(Multi-colored stems and leaves)
- Bright Lights (Dark-green, bronzed, moderately savoyed leaves)
- Orange Fantasia’ Swiss Chard (It contains golden-orange stalks. It can be slow growing.)
- Scarlet Charlotte’ Swiss Chard ( Need something outstanding in your flower beds? This one has magenta stalks and deep green leaves. Cornell notes that it is very ornamental.)
The University lists different seed companies that sell the Swiss Chard varieties. Be sure to check the seed availability from my favorite heirloom seed companies too.
Swiss Chard Recipes
How can you not be in love with this vegetable? Here are some recipes to get you started:
- Kielbasa Sausage and Vegetable Soup–the Rising Spoon
- Swiss Chard and Mushroom Frittata–This is So Good
- Mediterranean Risotto with Chard--Studio Botanica
- Swiss Chard & Caramelized Onions–Studio Botanica
- Cider Braised Swiss Chard with Apples–Dr Karen S Lee
- Lemon Garlic Rainbow Swiss Chard–AllRecipes
- Swiss Chard with Mint and Pistachio Nuts–Summer Tomato
- Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Gratin–Smitten Kitchen
- Swiss Chard with Chickpeas, and Couscous–Real Simple
- Greek Swiss Chard Pie–Martha Rose Shulman (NY Times)
I hope I inspired you to either grow Swiss Chard or at least cook with it!
Join the Conversation:
What is your favorite way to eat Swiss Chard?