Growing Swiss Chard: Greens for Gardens and Container Growing 6

Growing Swiss chard in your garden or yard — or even on your balcony — will net you fresh greens for months.

growing swiss chard in a container

Swiss chard — also known as silverbeet — is less finicky in the garden than spinach and milder in flavor than kale.

For apartment dwellers, growing Swiss chard is a no-brainer since it grows so well in containers.

Swiss chard plants will provide food for months.

In past years, I’ve harvested chard from one planting for an entire summer season.

red-stemmed swiss chard growing in a garden

Beautiful Swiss chard

Here’s a bonus: Swiss chard is beautiful. Really, really beautiful.

It’s a great addition to flower beds, making for an edible flower garden that will sneak past your homeowners association.

Swiss chard comes in many varieties. Shockingly bright rainbow chard adds color to your garden or patio with stalks in yellow, red, pink, and white surrounded by deep green leaves.

Perpetual spinach is related to chard (and beets). It’s less flamboyant — it’s all green — but is a bit milder than some of the chard varieties and one of my favorites.

Growing Swiss chard in containers

If you’re an urban gardener or limited on garden space, this is what I want you to do: Get some Swiss chard seeds. And a container of some sort.

It doesn’t have to be a fancy pot, or a very big one. (The one you see above is about 12″ in diameter and came from a garage sale.)

Fill the pot with soil. Bagged potting soil works fine. Mix in a little compost if you like. [You made a worm bin like this, right?]
growing swiss chard with yellow and pink stalks

Planting Swiss chard

To grow Swiss chard in containers, bury five or six Swiss chard seeds – spaced equally – under about half an inch of soil. Sprinkle with water daily.

If you’re planting it out in a garden bed, space the seeds about four-to-six inches apart.

The first sprouts should appear within a week.

If you’re growing Swiss chard in containers, you’ll likely need to water it daily, depending upon your weather.

In a garden bed, as the plants grow and become crowded simply pull an entire plant from the ground to harvest it (rather than trimming leaves as described below). A tighter spacing like this allows you to harvest more and shades the soil as the plants grow, which can fend off weeds.

Growing Swiss chard couldn’t be easier.

Swiss chard is a biennial, which means that it will often provide a second year of growth for you with no extra work.

If your chard plant goes to seed, you’ll need to start fresh, since the greens turn bitter once that happens.

Even novice gardeners can handle growing Swiss chard. Go on now. Get your hands dirty!

fresh baby swiss chard greens

How to harvest Swiss chard

When leaves reach about 4-6″ tall, you can start harvesting what farmers market growers call “baby chard.” You’ll do so by cutting off just a few of the outer leaves on each plant, allowing the plants to continue producing.

As the plants get more robust, you can harvest more leaves – just make sure to always leave at least several leaves growing on each plant. Use scissors to cut leaf stems near the base of each plant.

Easy ways to use Swiss chard

  • Saute the greens as you would spinach.
  • Chiffonade and stir several leaves into an egg scramble or frittata.
  • Cook the stems like asparagus.
  • Add to fresh green salads.
  • Add a few leaves to your morning fruit smoothie.
  • Chop the chard finely and add to soups or marinara sauce.
  • Dice the raw stalks and add to tuna salad instead of celery.

Swiss chard recipes

Swiss chard recipes are in high demand around here when it’s abundant. Give these recipes a try if you’re growing Swiss chard!

Need more Swiss chard recipes? Consider using Swiss chard in recipes that call for kale. It will do just fine.

Growing Swiss chard in your garden or yard -- or even on your balcony -- will net you fresh greens for months. Perfect for urban gardeners, Swiss chard is arguably one of the easiest greens to grow. #gardening #urbangarden #eatlocal

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6 thoughts on “Growing Swiss Chard: Greens for Gardens and Container Growing

  • Karen

    What a list of yummy swiss chard recipes! Thx for including my Cider Braised Swiss Chard with Apples recipe. But I’m going to try the Korean Pancake with Swiss Chard from my garden! Thx Kris!

  • Debby

    Something is eating my Swiss chard, any ideas on how to save it?

    • Kris Bordessa Post author

      First, I’d try to figure out *what is eating your chard. Look on the bottom of the leaves – caterpillars? Is there snail slime? Birds? Diatomaceous earth is a good all-around deterrent, but won’t do anything about birds.

  • Carol@StudioBotanica

    Thanks so much for including my “Caramelized Onions + Swiss Chard” recipe! Honoured to be included in this fabulous collection of delicious recipes. Chard is definitely one of my most favourite greens! I have a list now of ideas for new Chard adventures!