Swiss Chard (Fordhook)
A vigorous grower with a long growing season, it will provide fresh greens from early summer into fall, and year-round in mild climates. Packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre. Great when steamed or boiled!
How to Sow
- Sow in average soil in full sun spring as soon as ground can be worked.
- Prepare the bed by turning the soil under to a depth of 8 inches. Level with a rake to remove clumps of grass and stones.
- Sow about 6 inches apart and cover with ½ inch fine soil.
- Firm lightly and keep evenly moist.
- Seedlings emerge in 7-14 days.
- Thin stand to about 12 inches apart when seedlings are 1-2 inches tall.
How to Grow
- Keep weeds under control during the growing season. Weeds compete with plants for water, space and nutrients, so control them by either cultivating often or use a mulch to prevent their seeds from germinating. Avoid disturbing the soil around the plants when weeding.
- Keep plants well watered during dry periods to promote rapid, uninterrupted growth. Plants need about 1 inch of rain per week during the growing season. Use a rain gauge to check to see if you need to add water. It’s best to water with a drip or trickle system that delivers water at low pressure at the soil level. If you water with overhead sprinklers, water early in the day so the foliage has time to dry off before evening, to minimize disease problems. Keep the soil moist but not saturated.
- If flower stalk appears, remove it to prolong the harvest.
- Monitor for pests and diseases. Check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls recommended for your area.
Harvest and Preserving Tips
- Begin harvesting leaves when they reach 5-6 inches or are large enough to use.
- Break off the outer leaves at their base, taking care not to damage the inner leaves.
- Plants that are harvested regularly will continue to produce new growth from the center of the plant.
- Both the leaves and stalks are edible raw, steamed, and sautéed, but avoid the lower 2-3 inches of the stalk as it may be fibrous and tough.
- Swiss chard may be blanched and frozen. Stems may be pickled.