Did you know that you can grow Swiss chard, a nutritious leafy green, right in a pot? Even if you don’t have a large garden, you can still enjoy the benefits of growing your own fresh Swiss chard.
In this article, we’ll show you the step-by-step process of successfully growing Swiss chard from selecting the right container to harvesting your crop.
Let’s get started.
1. Pick a suitable Swiss chard variety for the pot
Choose the Swiss chard variety that best suits your pot and taste preferences. Rainbow Chard, Fordhook Giant Chard, Green Chard, and Bright Lights Chard are popular varieties to consider.
Rainbow Chard features vibrant stems in a range of colors, while Fordhook Giant Chard has broad, dark green leaves. Green Chard offers a classic Swiss chard flavor, and Bright Lights Chard showcases a mix of colorful stems.
Consider the visual appeal and flavor profile you desire when selecting a variety. Each variety can thrive in a pot as long as the container meets the minimum requirements of 12 inches deep.
2. Choose the best time to grow Swiss chard
Swiss chard is a cool-season crop that thrives in temperatures between 50°F and 75°F (10°C and 24°C).
It’s best to plant Swiss chard in early spring, when the soil temperature reaches around 50°F (10°C). This will allow the seeds to germinate and the plants to establish before the hot summer temperatures arrive.
However, Swiss chard can also be planted in late summer or early fall, as it can tolerate light frosts. Planting at this time will provide you with a fall harvest and allow the plants to continue to grow in milder winter climates. Just protect them from severe frosts with row covers or bring them indoors if necessary.
3. Find out how long it will take to grow Swiss chard
Swiss chard is a fast-growing vegetable, and you can expect to see germination within 7 to 14 days after planting.
After germination, the plants will develop their true leaves, and this process usually takes another 7 to 14 days.
As the plants continue to grow, they’ll reach maturity and be ready for harvest in approximately 45 to 60 days. However, it’s important to note that the exact time to harvest will depend on various factors, such as the specific variety, growing conditions, and weather.
Regularly monitor the growth of your Swiss chard plants and harvest when the leaves have reached their desired size.
4. Pick the right pot to grow Swiss chard
The container should be at least 12 inches deep and 12 inches wide to allow enough space for the roots to grow. It is also crucial to choose a container with drainage holes to prevent root rot.
Various options such as plastic, terracotta, ceramic pots, wooden tubs, boxes, and window boxes can be used. Fabric grow bags are a lightweight and portable option.
To provide a clear overview, refer to the table below for a comparison of different container options:
|May deteriorate in extreme temperatures
|Provides good insulation
|Can be heavy and prone to breakage
|Expensive and fragile
|Natural look, good insulation
|May require more maintenance
|Limited depth for root growth
5. Prepare the pot for planting
Start by cleansing the pot with soap and water to remove any dirt or residue. Rinse it well and let it dry completely before proceeding.
Once the pot is clean, check for any cracks or damage that could affect the plant’s growth. If you find any, consider using a different pot.
Make sure the pot has proper drainage holes to prevent waterlogging. This will help avoid root rot and ensure the roots have access to oxygen.
Add good potting mix that has the right texture to grow vegetables. It should be lightweight and good aeration. So it can retain required moisture and provide necessary oxygen to the roots.
6. Plant the Swiss chard seeds in the pot
To plant the Swiss chard seeds in the pot, follow these steps:
- Sow the seeds at a depth of one inch in a 12-inch wide and deep container.
- Space 2-3 seeds or seedlings 8 to 10 inches apart.
- Once the seedlings reach 1 to 2 inches tall, thin them out by removing the weakest plant.
- Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged by watering whenever the soil feels dry.
7. Plant the Swiss chard seedlings in the pot
Once the seedlings have reached a height of 1 to 2 inches, it’s time to transfer them from their nursery pots to the larger container. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you with the planting process:
- Fill your container with a well-draining potting mix that is rich in organic matter. This will provide the necessary nutrients for the Swiss chard to thrive.
- Make sure your container has drainage holes to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot.
- Dig a small hole in the potting mix, deep enough to accommodate the root ball of the seedling.
- Gently remove the seedling from its nursery pot, being careful not to damage the delicate roots.
- Place the seedling into the hole, ensuring that the top of the root ball is level with the surface of the potting mix.
- Fill in the gaps around the seedling with more potting mix, gently firming it down to secure the plant in place.
- Repeat this process for each seedling, spacing them 8 to 10 inches apart to allow for proper growth.
8. Provide the required sunlight
Swiss chard needs a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight per day to thrive. Place your pot in a location that receives full sun or part sun, especially in cooler climates. In hot climates, it’s advisable to provide some shade in the afternoon to protect the plants from scorching.
If you’re growing Swiss chard indoors, place the pot on a sunny windowsill or close to a south-facing window without drapes to maximize sunlight exposure.
9. Provide the required water to the plant
Swiss chard requires consistently moist soil, but overwatering can be detrimental. Check the soil moisture daily and water thoroughly when necessary. Shallow pots may require more frequent watering.
My way of checking the soil is to stick a finger 1-2 inches into the soil. If the finger comes out dry without soil sticking to it, it’s time to give a good watering.
10. Thin the Swiss chard seedlings
Thinning is an essential step in ensuring the healthy growth and development of your Swiss chard plants. Here are some key points to consider:
- Thin the seedlings when they reach a height of 1 to 2 inches.
- Remove the weakest seedlings, leaving only the strongest and healthiest ones.
- Space the seedlings 8 to 10 inches apart to allow room for proper growth and development.
- Thinning the seedlings will prevent overcrowding and competition for nutrients, sunlight, and water.
11. Provide nutrients to the Swiss chard
Swiss chard is a heavy feeder and requires a nutrient-rich soil to thrive. Start by incorporating aged manure into the potting soil at the time of planting to provide a good initial source of nutrients.
Side-dress the pots with compost during midseason to replenish the soil with additional nutrition. If slow growth is observed or compost wasn’t added, feed the crop with a balanced liquid fertilizer once a month.
This will ensure that the Swiss chard plants receive a steady supply of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which are essential for healthy growth and development.
12. Harvest and store the Swiss chard
Harvest the Swiss chard when the leaves are mature, around 6 to 8 inches long.
Gently tug at the base of the leaf to remove it from the plant. Harvest the outer leaves to encourage new leaf growth.
Consider using the cut-and-come-again method for continuous leaf production. This involves harvesting the older, outside leaves first, allowing the smaller, tender leaves to grow.
One plant can be productive for the entire season, providing you with a steady supply of fresh Swiss chard.
To store Swiss chard, follow these guidelines:
- Rinse the leaves thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris.
- Place the leaves in a plastic bag, removing as much air as possible before sealing it.
- Store the bag in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer.
- Swiss chard can stay fresh for up to a week when stored properly.