The Q&A Archives: Beets And Swiss Chard

Question: What would cause the tops to my beets, and swiss chard to turn brown shrivel and die? No apparent pests can be seen..

Answer: Beets and chard are related, so they are likely suffering from the same problem, whatever that may be. There is a possibility of a disease problem, such as the fungal leaf spot. This would be controlled by careful garden sanitation as well as crop rotation on at least a three year schedule, along with taking care to keep the soil well supplied with organic matter and compost. It could also be a blight spread by aphids, in which case you will need to be looking for disease resistant varieties in the future. There is also a possibility of a boron deficiency, which can be treated with a teaspoon of borax mixed in a gallon of water then applied at a rate of about a gallon per 20 sq.ft. every other week until the leaves look better. (Do not exceed 4 teaspoons.)

In general, too, you may want to look at overall cultural conditions. The healthiest and best-tasting greens are those that grow quickly. Important contributions to rapid growth are a
steady moisture supply and fertile soil. To prepare the bed
work plenty of organic matter into the 6"-8" of soil. Use
leaves, compost, etc., spreading it 3"-4" thick on top of the
soil and working it in by digging or rototilling.

Greens will grow best in fertile soil. In addition to the
organic matter, you can use a 5-10-10 fertilizer, spreading it
equally around the bed. (Use 2 pounds per 100 square feet
of bed.)

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