Light requirements: Full sun to part shade. Protect plants from strong afternoon sun in warmest regions.
Planting: Space 12 to 18 inches apart.
Soil requirements: These greens need moist, nutrient-rich soil. Amend soil with 4 to 6 inches of compost or other organic matter prior to planting. Soil pH should be 6.0 to 6.8.
Water requirements: Keep soil consistently moist throughout the growing season. Aim for 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week through rainfall or irrigation. Mulch to reduce water evaporation and keep leaves clean from splashing soil.
Frost-fighting plan: Established plants tolerate light frosts (28 to 32º F). It’s a good idea to protect newly planted seedlings from late spring or early fall frosts by covering plants with a frost blanket.
Common issues: Cercospora leaf spot and downy mildew may attack leaves. Watch out for aphids, mites, and caterpillars.
Harvesting: Harvest leaves whenever they’re large enough to eat. Younger leaves are more flavorful and tender. Older leaves tend to be tougher; cook these for best results. Pick outer leaves first, and the plant will continue to produce new inner leaves.
Storage: Refrigerate unwashed leaves in a lightly damp paper towel slipped into a very loosely closed plastic bag. Leaves store up to 14 days.
For more information, visit the Swiss Chard page in our How to Grow section.
- Calories: 35
- Carbohydrates: 7g
- Dietary fiber: 4g
- Sugars: 2g
- Protein: 3g
- Vitamin A: 214% DV
- Vitamin C: 53%
- Vitamin K: 716%
- Vitamin E: 17%
- Riboflavin: 9%
- Vitamin B6: 7%
- Magnesium: 38%
- Manganese: 29%
- Potassium: 27%
- Iron: 22%
- Copper: 14%
Like other leafy green vegetables such as turnip and collard greens, Swiss chard is off the charts in the amount of vitamins A, C, and K it contains. Both the leaves and stems have been studied for their effectiveness in preventing digestive tract cancers. The huge load of traditional vitamins, minerals, and numerous phytonutrients adds up to high marks for the vegetable’s contribution to bone, lung, and vision health. Vitamin E, which works as an anti-inflammatory in the body and contributes to mental health, is also high in Swiss chard. And don’t be afraid to add a little healthy fat such as olive oil to your leafy greens; the fat evidently helps the body absorb all that vitamin E.