Swiss Chard

TheMasterGardener1(5B)May 6, 2011

Hi. I have just cleared an area that recievs 3-6 hour of full sun. I want to plant some chard there. I live in the north east. I am planing to grow them in pots in this area. Can I plant the seeds now? Or did I wait too long? I hear they should be started 3 weeks before last frost then bring them outside. Any information would be good. I hear they go through the summer into late fall so I think I can but just want to hear some advice.

Thanks.

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darkwing

You can plant chard whenever. It's basically just a beet without the bulb. The three weeks before frost is the earliest that you can plant.

Enjoy!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 8:40AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

"It's basically just a beet without the bulb..." Yes, that's true, but a healthy specimen will have a big tap root. I have had real difficulty digging them out when they are no longer needed. Not sure container growing will suit them too well unless you are just growing them short term in the pots.

You can just direct sow if you don't want to bother with indoor sowing. And transplanted chard is more likely to bolt early.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 12:42PM
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heirloomjunkie(5a)

I tried to grow chard indoors and it didn't turn out so great. While all my other seeldlings thrived, chard just didn't do much. I direct sowed outside a few days after, and those did great. Won't bother growing them indoors in the future. They have plenty of time to grow outside, and get quite large if you let them. Neon lights are beautiful as decor, as well.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 12:52PM
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Dan Staley

I guess it depends on where in the "north east" and where on the spectrum of "3-6 hours" of sun. Hard to say with the paucity of useful information.

Nonetheless, I agree with flora that chard likely won't care for pots. I'm expecting resistance here in the next couple days when I try and remove it from an area, as the roots will be big.

Dan

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 1:14PM
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pnbrown

3 hours is not nearly enough.

I take it your handle was chosen sardonically?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 1:32PM
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susan2010(6 Massachusetts)

If anyone is interested, last year I got some seeds from Renee's Garden for container Chard "Pot of Gold." I can't say it was a huge producer, but it did quite well in a container.

Here is a link that might be useful: Container Chard

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 2:50PM
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shebear(z8 NCentralTex)

My plants get huge so I can't imagine growing chard in a pot unless it's as big as a barrel.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 4:01PM
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tempusflits

I wish GW had a container vegetable garden forum. I think it would be helpful.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 4:48PM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

Thanks guys. I get 5 hours in the area I have planned so it will be plenty of light. I need to replan the size of my pots by what you guys are saying. Thank you.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 5:53PM
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californian

Swiss Chard self seeds all over my property and grows like a weed. If you let it, it will get six feet tall and make hundreds of seeds. I have to spend a lot of time just killing it as it sprouts all over the place. If you chop it down but leave the root, it will grow right back. The root can get three inches in diameter.
The green kind, Lucillus, is the most hardy.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 6:16PM
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remy_gw

You can grow Swiss chard in a pot. It doesn't have to be a gigantic pot either. I've grown them in 2 1/2 to 5 gallon containers just fine and had them grow well all season. Many varieties only grow to about 2' tall. I think the biggest I've ever had was about 3' tall. I've never seen giant sized chard like the more southern posters are talking about. Of course I've never seen chard flower and set seed being up here, they are not hardy. I would have to overwinter the roots here in a cold but frost free area and replant in the spring.
Remy

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 8:25PM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

So I can keep replanting the same ones if I bring them in over the winter and leave them in a window? How long can they last? Should I ever replant new seed?

I just found some very nice 2 gal planters for only a dollar! So I will stock up on those. I am using a soiless mix with good nutrients so I think I can grow them in small containers. Thanks for the info.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 8:59PM
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remy_gw

"So I can keep replanting the same ones if I bring them in over the winter and leave them in a window? How long can they last? Should I ever replant new seed?"
No, well, you can bring the whole pot and plan in to extend the season I suppose if you have the room. I'm not sure how long they would do well indoors. Overwintering of the roots is completely different and it is done so seeds can be obtained. Swiss chard is a biennial. This means that plant flowers in it second year, sets seeds, and dies. It is not a cold hardy plant and that is why special treatment is need so the plant can grow in a second season. Down south, this is not a problem. So unless you are growing a rare and unusual variety, it is not worth all the trouble to obtain your own Swiss Chard seed. The seed is readily available for purchase and inexpensive.
Remy

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 10:34PM
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tastytravels(8)

Good luck with your chard. I agree that if you opt for container gardening, you will need a large container. Also, here in the NW I usually have problems with leaf miners. It's best to cover leaves or inspect the undersides of leaves often to prevent damage.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 11:58PM
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feijoas(New Zealand)

For those that want to have a look, here's the container gardening forum.

Here is a link that might be useful: container gardening

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 4:26AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

remy - have you ever tried just leaving a chard plant out in the garden over winter as an experiment? Obvously I don't know how cold and frozen your ground gets. It might be interesting to leave a few and see if they mange. They will bolt the following spring and go to flower. BTW the flowers are extremely fragrant with a sort of honey scent. The flowers take a long time to ripen seed so you need to be prepared to have a couple of giant chards in a corner somewhere. That said, most of my self sowers come from spreading compost containing bolted chard plants.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 6:29AM
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pnbrown

A few points:

Chard is a so-called "half-hardy", like beets and spinach. They love mild weather and stand light frost. For example, in z7a it ocassionally over-winters but usually not. Nevertheless some varieties will bolt and if the season is long enough will produce mature seed which can lie dormant in the ground through the winter.

Any plant can be grown in a pot; the smaller the pot the smaller the plant.

Like most if not all vegetables chard needs full sun to be productive and avoid health problems. 6 hours is the rule of thumb minimum based on centuries of experience in the mid and high latitudes. Most cultivated food plants do better with more hours than that of full sun exposure.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 6:38AM
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remy_gw

Flora,
Yes, it doesn't make it. I haven't done it on purpose, just from leaving plants in the garden. It doesn't get really too icrendibly cold here, but it is freezing for too long which of course make the soil temp drop down past whatever chard can survive at.

PNBrown,
Neat to know. I've never has any bolt on me. It would be cool to see one of these years.
Remy

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 8:19AM
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tomtuxman(6bNY)

Remy, Flora -- I have had Swiss chard overwinter. Of about a dozen plants left in the plot last year here in zone 6b mid-Hudson River valley (where we had a particularly nasty harsh Winter this last one), I had three survive -- not a lot, true. While they are still alive, my new starts from seed this Spring are already surpassing them in size, so IMO not worthwhile to try and overwinter. Never had them flower or go to seed, though. Their roots do get humongous, btw.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 8:39AM
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susan2010(6 Massachusetts)

I had two Chard plants survive the winter here near Boston. And we had a bad cold winter (for us) with a lot of snow.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 9:09AM
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TheMasterGardener1(5B)

Ok Thanks for the info. I did not want to bring them in anyway I will leave them out if they dont make it I will plant new seeds. I have learned alot about chard on here. It is interesting to hear they flower and seed in its second year. I looked up the nutrient value of chard and it is endless. I have alot of hebs that have endless amount of good things in them too. Grow Grow Grow

Thanks.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 11:48AM
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pnbrown

Lots of snow is precisely why the plants survived. Extended freezes without good snow cover is what kills.

In climates where it snows heavily and early and sticks before the serious cold comes on, many things can overwinter. great for storing cabbage and carrots and such in situ.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 12:46PM
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wordwiz

For kicks and giggles, I planted three Chard plants in my GH. Thanks to a large shelf of tomatoes in front of the windows, they do not get anything close to six hours of sunlight per day, closer to three hours of direct light is closer. They are doing great.

Mike

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 3:23PM
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ruthieg__tx(z8 TX)

Somehow I ended up with a chard seed in a pot that I planted something else in and it's huge and I've already cut it back once.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 4:46AM
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rosewood513(7)

I just found Swiss Chard, I visisted a new friend and she had very many Swiss Chard plants in containers around her patio, there were so many I wondered what she would do with them. She enjoys giving them away, she was cutting them already. I will be getting some in a few days when I visit again. I went right home and planted some of my own and they are doing just fine in my containers.
So it is basically never too late and I believe just about anything can be grown in containers in fact that is my "thing" this year, I have over a twenty containers on my deck just to see what grows well. I even have betternut squash in one and I have beautiful squash.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2011 at 8:39PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

rosewood513 - chard behaves like spinach when you cook it i.e. it reduces massively in volume. So what looks like a lot of plants might be quite necessary to get a reasonable amount of cooked greens. I use my largest saucepan (probably about 1 US gallon) filled to the brim and rammed down hard for 4 people as a side dish. No water necessary other than what is on the leaves from rinsing. A blob of butter doesn't go amiss.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 7:18AM
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pnbrown

Flora, do you grow Lucullus or Erbette? I find those really do have the eating quality of spinach, or quite nearly.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 7:40AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

pn - no idea what mine is. I have sown Bright Lights in the past but all mine is self sown now for several years. Other allotmenteers grow it too so I probably have a strain which has no name by now. There are red and white versions but the yellow has almost disappeared. There's some in the pic I posted on the thread about 'show us your harvest'. It's generally sold in packs just labelled Swiss Chard or Rhubarb Chard or Spinach Beet. I don't recall seeing either Lucullus or Erbette for sale although I see them online.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 5:17PM
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coralb(7)

Very informative post. I thought that had grown some super heat tolerant chard that would not bolt. In the previous fall I direct sowed chard. I harvested it in fall and winter it died to its roots. I then came back in the spring like gangbusters and bolted when the temps hit the 80's. Every last one bolted except the one white one. I thought this was unique to that type of chard. I am now betting it was a seed that sprouted in the spring, while all the stuff that bolted was in the fall. Since I loves me some chard tacos I will be growing it in the spring and fall from now on!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 7:03PM
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regina_phalange

I planted some silver swiss chard a couple of weeks ago and the next day had a massive storm yielding 2 inches of rain fall in a couple of hours. Major flooding right in the planted area after the nearby culverts overflowed. Any chance the seeds are still there or should I replant?

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 1:23AM
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cappykay

I am growing red and yellow chard in a 4x4 garden and they are huge with big, bold leaves-1 foot long each- plants about 2 1/2 ft. tall....full sun 6-8 hours per day...I have to prune heavily to control the growth.

I am also growing it along the shady side of my garden, maybe 1-2 hours per day in the holes of cinder blocks....approx. 6 inches square of growing space per plant....they are growing slow, steady, and have beautiful, small, tasty leaves for salads and smoothies...gorgeous and a great use of space.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 12:35PM
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oliveoyl3

For me bolts less when shaded from the summer afternoon sun. We prefer the smaller leaves, so we cut as we need them not letting any one plant get very big like what you see in the stores. Tender & tasty in stir fry over summer and in soups & stews all winter long. Even in snowy, freezing weather we cut stems. It gets a bit battered looking, but regrows when the weather warms. Our winter days are around 42-45 with freezing weather on occasion. If you provided winter protection it would stay nicer & last longer.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 4:17PM
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