Chard makes an excellent, colourful addition to your kitchen garden. As a cut and come again crop, basically beetroot without the root, chard will just keep on giving, providing a steady supply of spinach-like leaves throughout the year. The colourful stems also work well as a decorative touch in mixed beds.

Growing chard:

Chard can be sown between March and August outside and pretty much all year round undercover with some protection. It is an easy to grow and forgiving plant that can survive hot summer weather well without bolting and yet can also grow in the cooler seasons. With little effort, you can be harvesting chard right through most of the year.

Chard prefers a soil that is rich in nutrients, moisture retentive and yet well-draining. Chard can be direct sown where they are to grow or grown indoors and then planted out after around 4-6 weeks. Be sure to harden off indoor grown seedlings before planting them out.

Chard can be spaced at around 30cm for full sized plants or you can plant them much closer together and continue to harvest smaller leaves. You should water chard before the onset of drought. A mulch in the summer when soil is warm and moist will help to conserve water and keep the chard producing leaves quickly and healthily. Mulch will also help keep down the weeds, which will complete with the chard for nutrients and water and are best kept down by weeding and mulching.

Do not wait until chard has reached its maximum size before you take leaves for the kitchen. Cut off the outer leaves first when plants are still young and tender. As with all cut and come again vegetables you should always harvest regularly to ensure you have a constant supply of tender regrowth. If a stump is left then leaves will regrow, making this a good-value and satisfying plant to grow.

As a leafy crop, chard will benefit from a nitrogen rich plant feed or a biodegradable mulch, such as grass clippings.

If you have a healthy and productive late-season plant outdoors you should cover it with an insulative layer of leaves or straw over the winter and it should continue to produce leaves the following year.

Why grow chard in the garden?

Tender young chard leaves can be treated like lettuce and colourful varieties can enliven a salad. Leaves of any age can be treated like spinach and wilted down and used in a variety of different recipes. It is very good for you and contains a whole range of vitamins and minerals.

Chard is a good companion for brassicas and also works well with members of the same family like beetroot.

The long, colourful stems of rainbow or bright lights varieties of chard also make it a nice decorative addition to garden beds.

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Beta vulgaris ssp. cicla