For me personally, Swiss chard is one of my favorite vegetables. It's a versatile vegetable with a mild flavor and mild, almost grassy, texture. I like to grow it because it's a perennial that doesn't need much attention, and it's easy to grow in many places. I want to share some tips on growing Swiss chard that I have learned from some people that live in the Midwest where this vegetable is a common crop.
It is very important to know the correct way to plant your seeds so that they will germinate and sprout correctly. I've done a lot of research on the subject and the main thing I've found is that if you follow the instructions carefully, then your seeds will usually germinate and start growing within three to four days. Most other growing Swiss chard seeds aren't as easy to germinate, sometimes taking up to five days to develop. I have found the following procedure to be effective for growing Swiss chard.
Before you even cut the Swiss chard seeds out of the plant, you should make sure that you divide them up into six to eight cups and place them in a dish filled with water and keep them in the water for about a week. I suggest sowing your seeds in the fall. You can do this by putting the seeds in a large plastic bag and putting them in the ground about three to four inches apart from one another. If you don't do this, then the seeds won't have the opportunity to grow to their full potential and will most likely die.
The next step is to start preparing your soil. If you are going to use your own garden soil, then it's important that you only sow the Swiss chard seeds about an inch outside of the holes that you have already created in the ground. You want to allow about one to one and a half inches of room for the seed to survive. After this, you can start to plant.
Once the seedlings come out, you need to be very careful. Because the chard has a very strong taste, I recommend that you don't eat it right away. Allow it to breathe and then sow it in your garden about two to three inches outside of where you planted it. Be sure to check it frequently to see if it grows. If you notice that it doesn't go into normal size and starts to crowd out other plants, then you need to remove it and replant it in a proper spot.
One of the best things about growing Swiss chard is that you will be able to harvest the greens at any time of the year. You will have to know the growing season for this vegetable because in colder weather, they won't sprout as large or healthy as they will in warmer climates. For example, in Wisconsin, they only bloom between June and August. For New York area gardening, the growing season is June through September.
Before you seed your chard, you need to purchase some inexpensive shears to make sure that you cut the seedling away properly. Some people mistakenly cut their seeds too far back and end up with small pieces of mush instead of the crisp green tops. When cutting off the seed, make sure you go with the short side down. It's not only easier to seed the smaller pieces but it will save you a lot of extra work.
If you are having trouble harvesting your seedling because they are small, then you can just leave them in a salad bowl and keep them covered until they're ready to use. Just remember that seeds don't always grow at the same rate. It could take weeks for one small seedling to sprout to the point where it can be harvested. For most other vegetables, it will usually grow in three to five weeks. The important thing to remember is to continue to replenish the water daily so that the little ones have enough moisture to stay healthy.