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Swiss Chard for Spring Planting

By SongofJoy
March 20, 2012

This green leafy vegetable has to be one of my all-time favorites for a number of good reasons. If you've never tried growing it, there's no time like the present. It's perfect for spring planting, amazingly easy to grow, and very resilient.

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Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
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wildflowers
Mar 20, 2012 7:42 AM CST
Easy to grow, though, attractive and edible!!

I love it too! Thank you for this info on Swiss chard! Thumbs up

My problem has been that the temps get too hot before the plants have grown much and they die off... I'm going to try it again maybe with some afternoon shade?
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
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SongofJoy
Mar 20, 2012 8:01 AM CST
Thanks, Christine. I don't know what will happen this year. It's supposed to be 83ยบ or higher today, a record-breaker. People's cilantro is already beginning to bolt. I don't know how 'Bright Lights' will do. Guess I'm about to find out. I do shade it a bit under the carport. That's another nice thing about Swiss Chard ... it can take a little shade and still do well.

OK, before I get going again ... Whistling
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
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wildflowers
Mar 20, 2012 8:25 AM CST
lol! It's worthy! Okay then, I'll try growing in a container - you talked me into it!! Hilarious!
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Trish
Jacksonville, TX (Zone 8a)
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Trish
Mar 20, 2012 9:09 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Christine,

Our Chard really stood up to the heat last year. We were eating it well into summer (at least late June, maybe longer), it also survived the summer and provided us in the fall. One even over wintered and is huge even though I keep feeding it to the chickens! Also, this year I planted some really late fall in the hugel bed. That's the same ones that you can see pictures of in our latest hugel pictures.

Don't give up on this plant! It is definitely one of our keeper greens!
NGA COO, Wife, Mom, and caretaker of 90 acres and all that dwell there.
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar
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SongofJoy
Mar 20, 2012 9:19 AM CST
I agree Which varieties do you grow, Trish?

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Trish
Jacksonville, TX (Zone 8a)
I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Roses Herbs Vegetable Grower
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Trish
Mar 20, 2012 9:45 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Bright Lights Chard is the variety that is our #1. We started growing it for the additional color and interest at the farmers market, and it's done so well in our heat that I won't give it up!
NGA COO, Wife, Mom, and caretaker of 90 acres and all that dwell there.
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar
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SongofJoy
Mar 20, 2012 9:56 AM CST
I've been focusing on cold-hardy varieties here in TN, but all of a sudden this year, I'm having to think about very heat-tolerant as well. Shrug! Chard is one that seems to do well on both ends of the spectrum.

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Trish
Jacksonville, TX (Zone 8a)
I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Roses Herbs Vegetable Grower
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Trish
Mar 20, 2012 10:05 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Yes- it's an astonishingly hardy plant!
NGA COO, Wife, Mom, and caretaker of 90 acres and all that dwell there.
Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
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wildflowers
Mar 20, 2012 2:39 PM CST
Thanks for the encouraging info, Trish! I have high hopes now lol!

I'll have to go back to look which varieties I've been planting. I know one is an heirloom varieity called "Fordhook Giant" that is said to tolerate partial shade. I'll have to try Bright Lights!
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
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pod
Mar 20, 2012 10:37 PM CST
Christine ~ try planting it in late summer, early fall. Mine has stayed in ground all winter, shaking off the frost. I have grown two types, one is Bright Lights. I'd have to look at the other seeds for a name. I think the thicker stemmed chard types are more durable than the thin stemmed. And I like to eat the stems so thick is better there too.

Isn't Oxalic acid bad for those that suffer with gout or other forms of arthritis? I knew Asparagus was a culprit but didn't realize that about chard.
Kristi
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
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SongofJoy
Mar 21, 2012 2:40 AM CST
Sometimes kidney stones and gout are not related to oxalic acid at all, but for people who are prone to those conditions, they can both be aggravated by too much oxalic acid according to the general medical literature I read on the subject. Apparently some people are bothered by it and some are not. It appears that purines (found in most meat products and all protein foods) and Uric Acid (which digests purines in the body) are mainly the culprits in gout and arthritis. That whole mechanism is defective when someone has gout.
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
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wildflowers
Mar 21, 2012 7:40 AM CST
Hi Pod, thank you for the growing tips! Thumbs up
May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Name: Vicki
North Carolina
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vic
Mar 22, 2012 1:53 AM CST
Late to the party but really enjoyed your article Tee Hurray! - Lots of info and yes, what used to be cold tolerant here doesn't apply this year Blinking
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar
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SongofJoy
Mar 22, 2012 2:29 AM CST
Thank you, Vic.
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Baltimore County, MD (Zone 7a)
A bit of this and a bit of that
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bitbit
Mar 22, 2012 8:31 AM CST
Great article! It really is a wonderful food to grow.

Here (zone 8a) chard will grow year-round. The leaves can wilt in summer heat, but perk right back up at nighttime or on an overcast day. A hard frost will damage some exposed parts but again, it comes right back once the weather warms up. I've grown it in containers and in the ground, in full sun and nearly-full shade, and it just keeps on truckin'. I recommend it to all my novice gardener friends who want to grow their own food but don't know where to start.

I always grow Bright Lights because the color is fun, but I've actually had better luck with a variety called Perpetual. It tolerates both cold and heat a bit better than the Bright Lights, has larger leaves, and is slower to bolt. I find it to be a bit less strongly flavored as well. The only downside is that it looks rather plain compared to all the colorful options out there.
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar
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SongofJoy
Mar 22, 2012 10:04 AM CST
Thanks, bitX2. Green Grin! It's good to have feedback and recommendations for your zone. Much appreciated. I was curious as to how many people might be growing and enjoying this wonderful variety of "greens". Greens aren't always a favorite food (understatement), but with all the colorful varieties of Swiss Chard, there's more than one thing to recommend it.
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Larry Rettig
South Amana, IA (Zone 5a)
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LarryR
Apr 3, 2012 8:05 AM CST
Thanks for a great lesson on chart, Tee. My grandmother grew it, and I had completely forgotten about it until I read your article. Thumbs up
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Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar
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SongofJoy
Apr 3, 2012 9:47 AM CST
I tip my hat to you. Sometimes greens are a hard sell, but I think once people try chard (raw and cooked), they are likely to change their minds. Lovey dubby
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller

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