Do you love fresh spinach from the garden, but it gets too hot too soon and it bolts?  Growing Swiss chard in your garden is a wonderful alternative.  Though it is a cool season crop, unlike spinach, Swiss chard withstands higher temperatures and water shortages.  It is very nutritious, vitamin rich and very easy to grow.  It is not only great in your vegetable garden, but it can be used as an ornamental plant.

You can eat Swiss chard just like spinach.  Either in a fresh salad or cooked.

Like all vegetables Swiss Chard loves full sun, though it can tolerate some shade.  Additionally it prefers well-drained soil with lots of organic material, it does not like acid soil.  It tolerates infrequent water better than spinach, but performs and tastes better with regular watering.

You can either start Swiss Chard indoors or direct seed in your garden in early Spring.  Your seedlings can be transplanted when the temperatures stay above 30 degrees.  It can take a light frost.  Sow the seeds 1/2 to 1 inch apart, in rows three feet apart.  Eventually thin the seedlings two to three inches apart.  Germination can take from 1-2 weeks.

When planning where to plant it choose wisely.  One planting will last you the entire growing season.  You can harvest it all summer long by just picking the outer leaves.  It matures in 55-65 days.  As the weather turns cooler in the fall, this is the time when the leaves are the tastiest.  Utilizing a cold frame you can have Swiss Chard up into December.

Insect problems are fairly uncommon.  Occasionally you will get some aphids, but they are easily dismissed with a stream of water from your garden hose.  Just discard any affected leaves on the plant.

Article by Rich Young Certified Colorado Gardener.

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