Chard is a beautiful and nutritious French green used throughout the world. Two common varieties are the colourful Rainbow Chard and vibrant Swiss Chard. Nutritionally, this crop packs a punch, and is a great plant for both beginner growers and commercial farmers.
Chard leaves grow on elegant stems which range in color from red, to yellow, to white, and can get larger than a dinner plate. Chard does product large plants, so does require a bit more room than other greens.
Alternative names: silver beet, leaf beet, perpetual spinach
Nutritional content: raw chard contains high amounts of vitamins A, K and C, as well as magnesium, manganese, iron and potassium.
Total turn time in ZipGrow™ Towers: six to eight weeks
Loves: partial harvests, limited handling, plenty of space
Hates: high temperatures, slimy leaves
Used for: braised greens, soup, quiche and frittata, pasta, even as a topping for pizza!
Seeds and Germination
Chard grows easily from seed and germinates within four to ten days. Seedlings are ready to transplant after two or three weeks, and like to have generous spacing, around 8-10” between plants to ensure enough room to grow.
Growth and Harvest
Chard is bi-annual, so it will not bolt for the first year which makes it a good candidate for cut-and-regrow practices. Chard is ready for harvest 4–5 weeks after being transplanted, and yields well.
Growers should only harvest partially, leaving around 30% of the foliage for the plant to photosynthesize through the next turn. To harvest, clip the largest leaves from the plant, as close to the base of the plant as possible. Harvesting in the morning or evening can help keep chard fresh.
When harvested this way, chard plants can yield for several turns in a row. Harvest quantities are normally between 0.5 and 0.7 pound per foot of tower is average, each time you harvest.
Like most greens, chard prefers cooler weather to prevent bolting but will happily grow between 55°F and 75°F. Chard will do well with 14 to 18 light hours per day, and in a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5. EC/PPM should be between 1.6-2.3/800-1150.
Pests and Disease
Chard is a fairly tough crop. In our systems, we’ve rarely experienced pests, with only the occasional aphids and (very) occasional powdery mildew problem. And although high or low temperatures will affect the taste, the crop is overall very tolerant of stressful conditions.
Harvest and Storage
Chard can keep for over a week without beginning to wilt if treated correctly. Chard lasts longest when stored without washing in sealed containers or bags at cool temperatures, which dramatically reduce respiration and decay incidence.
Extra chard can be frozen for later use, although this will affect the texture; frozen chard is best used in cooked dishes.
You can read more about chard in our downloadable Quick Crops Guide.
The next steps are now to get growing! Check out our Farm Walls as a great place to start growing lettuce at home.
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