Square Foot Gardening for Swiss Chard

People looking for healthy green leafy vegetables to boost their healthy lifestyle often choose indoor or outdoor square-foot gardens to plant, grow, and harvest Swiss chard as the best option.

Are you thinking about growing your own Swiss chard in a square space garden and not sure how to get started? You’re in luck!

Below, we discuss how to grow swiss chard in a square-foot garden. We’ll also talk about how to care for Swiss chard during the growing season and provide tips on how to prepare swiss chard with your favorite recipes.

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How to Grow Swiss Chard in a Square-Foot Garden

Using raised garden beds to grow kitchen vegetable gardens isn’t a new concept.

Square-foot gardens gained popularity in the early 1980s and they are still one of the most popular forms of indoor gardening, outdoor gardening, and seed starting for small-space gardening.

Square-foot gardens were invented by Mel Bartholomew and consist of a small garden bed, usually 4ft by 4ft, divided into squares of 1ft.

You plant each type of vegetable in a different square taking into account its needs in terms of space.

Mel developed a special mix for this type of garden that contains peat moss, vermiculite, and compost. You should use this mix instead of regular soil and compost.

This specially-developed mix will retain moist better than regular soil which will also save water.

Swiss chard grows best in full sunshine and well-drained soil. It does great in hardiness zones 6 to 10. So, if you’re in Atlanta, for example, you’ll do fine growing this vegetable. Gardners can start growing Swiss chard from seeds or in a square-foot garden with a raised bed.

Experienced horticulturists say it will produce crops two years in a row when we plant and water it correctly.

Square foot gardening is a popular organic gardening method that uses square footage as the unit of measurement.

It is a method of growing plants in small spaces using various raised beds and garden boxes for indoor and outdoor gardens.

The goal for most people using square-foot gardens is to use as little space as possible while still supplying the plant with adequate nutrients and water.

People living in small spaces like apartments, dorms, or tiny homes can benefit from using an indoor square-foot garden in an out-of-the-way area of their apartment.

Many square-foot garden types are available for small spaces, like apartments or college dorm rooms.

If you live in a crowded city, like San Francisco, this is perfect for you.

For example, some people might place their garden on the balcony or rooftop of their apartment, while others might want to start a square-foot garden in the apartment to grow fresh fruits and vegetables year-round.

Ultimately, the location and size of your square-foot garden depend on how much space you have available and how you want to use it.

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What Is Swiss Chard?

We know Swiss chard as a type of leafy green vegetable with a bright color and a distinctive flavor. Many people compare the taste and texture of Swiss chard with that of kale.

This vegetable is a good source of vitamins A, C, and K. Swiss chard can also be a good source of fiber and potassium.

While the name leads us to believe that this flavorful green vegetable originates from Switzerland, Swiss chard naturally grows in the cool temperate climate of the Mediterranean.

It commonly goes by the name Swiss chard, endive, or witloof.

Gardners, farmers, and hobbyists grow swiss chard in temperate climates and harvest it twice a year. Swiss chard is a cruciferous vegetable that has a distinctive appearance.

We currently know of variations of Swiss chard that come in red, green, and silver. People have sometimes compared it to collard greens. It grows in cool climates like the Pacific Northwest, New England, and Northern Europe.

Swiss Chard Characteristics

The key components in Swiss chard include water, calcium carbonate, magnesium sulfate, potassium nitrate, sulfur dioxide (for color), folates (vitamin B9), and vitamin C.

Swiss chard is a perennial vegetable. It typically grows to about 1-2 meters tall. The leaves are light green and have serrated edges. The flowers are white or purple, and the fruit is a bright red berry.

It grows best in temperatures between 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit.

People who grow and eat Swiss chard say the texture is almost celery-like. Its appearance is variable, as it can have green or colored leaves with thick white stalks.

Often compared to spinach or kale, Swiss chard is a superfood that contains many health benefits for people who incorporate it into their diet.

So far, there are no adverse side effects related to consuming Swiss chard as part of a healthy and balanced diet.

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Swiss Chard Plant Origins

Swiss chard belongs to the Chenopodium plant family. Genus Chenopodium comprises about 50 species, most of which are wild spinach or tarragon.

We often eat Swiss chard plants as a part of a healthy and balanced diet featuring leafy green salads. Vegetable enthusiasts also cook Swiss chard as a vegetable dish or add in to soups and stews.

How Is Swiss Chard Related to Spinach, Kale, and Beets?

Although people commonly compare Swiss chard and spinach, they have different origins. Swiss chard is a type of kale, while spinach is a type of leafy green.

Beets and Swiss chard belong to the beet family. Beetroot is the root of a beet, while the Swiss chard is the leafy green part of the beet.

Swiss chard and kale are both types of green vegetables. Swiss chard is a stemless, leafy green with ribbed edges, while kale has smooth, deep-green leaves and stubby stems. Kale is also more bitter than Swiss chard.

Swiss chard is a versatile vegetable. Chefs, gardeners, and healthy eaters use it for salads or as a side dish. We also eat kale as a leafy green salad or cooked like spinach.

Get Ahead of Growing Season With Square-Foot Gardening

Gardening and horticulture experts say growers can get a jump on the growing season by starting Swiss chard seeds inside in a container garden around 6-8 weeks before the official growing season begins.

We can purchase swiss chard seeds at most major gardening centers or online.

New gardeners will be happy to know that Swiss chard has a relatively short growth cycle.

It only takes about two weeks for Swiss chard seeds to germinate with proper lighting conditions and watering. They complete the entire growth cycle within about 3-4 weeks.

Once the growth cycle is complete, you can pluck the leaves and add them to your favorite healthy food recipes, like soups and salads.

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Square-Foot Gardening for Swiss Chard: Prepare Your Garden

Before you start your square-foot Swiss chard garden, there are a few factors to consider.

Factors that can negatively impact the growth cycle include how efficiently your plants use water, whether you maintain the garden regularly, and what pests or diseases might be a problem in your area.

Where To Find Tools for Square-Foot Gardening

Some tools used in square-foot gardening are a trowel, hoe, rake, and spade.

Gardening enthusiasts can find these and other gardening supplies like raised bed square-foot garden kits and watering kits at nearby home and garden retailers, home improvement stores like Lowes or Home Depot, and online.

Square-Foot Gardening for Swiss Chard: Space Requirements

Assess your space and decide what size square-foot garden you want to grow. The size of your garden depends on how much space you have available.

It also depends on how many plants you want to grow and your gardening experience. Gardening experts recommend using a raised bed to keep your garden square footage high.

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How to Plant a Square-Foot Swiss Chard Garden: Step-by-Step

Step #1

Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball of Swiss chard you are planting and twice as deep.

Step #2

Plant the root ball in the center of the hole, making sure not to cover it with soil.

Step #3

Water well and wait until plants show signs of growth before filling in around them with more soil.

Step #4

Feed Swiss chard once a week during winter with an organic fertilizer enriched with plant-based nitrogen (10-20-10).

Step #5

Harvest Swiss chard leaves when they are about 6 inches long by picking the top few leaves off of the plant.

How To Care for Swiss Chard During the Growing Season

Swiss chard will require the same tender love and care as most other garden vegetables. It is critical to water the Swiss chard regularly and shelter it from direct sunlight when possible.

Use a general-purpose fertilizer monthly to sustain growth.

When Should I Harvest Swiss Chard From My Square-Foot Garden?

We should harvest most Swiss chard between mid-spring and early fall when the plants are at their peak. 

The leaves are dark green and lightly tender between late May and early July. Once harvested, Swiss chard can last in the fridge for up to four days.

Read: Square-Foot Gardening Green Beans [How to Plant & Care]

How Do I Prepare Swiss Chard?

People looking for an easy way to incorporate this healthy green vegetable prepare swiss chard in several ways, including steamed, boiled, roasted, or microwaved.

Below are a few examples of how gardeners and vegetable lovers prepare Swiss chard.

  • Boiling Swiss chard – Rinse the leaves and chop them into 1-inch pieces. Add to a pot of boiling water and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes.
  • Steaming Swiss chard – Pack the leaves into a large steamer basket and fill it with water. Bring the water to a boil, cover, and steam until tender, about 7 minutes.
  • Microwaving Swiss chard – Arrange the leaves on a microwave-safe plate or bowl. Cover with wax paper or parchment paper and microwave on high for 2 minutes or until wilted.

What Are Some Health Benefits of Consuming Swiss Chard?

  • Swiss chard is a good source of vitamins A and K, minerals like potassium and magnesium, fiber, and antioxidants.
  • Doctors and medical professionals have linked it with improving blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes.
  • Research studies show that it may help lower blood pressure levels and reduce the risk of heart disease in people with these conditions.
  • Swiss chard is also an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which can help promote heart health.
Square Foot Gardening for Swiss Chard
Square Foot Gardening for Swiss Chard

Frequently Asked Questions

Have more questions about Swiss chard? Find the answers to frequently asked questions about growing Swiss chard in your square-foot garden below.

What is the benefit of square-foot gardening?

Square-foot gardening is a very efficient way of growing vegetables because you’re using all the space available without any waste.
This method also prevents weeds from growing because there will no space for them to get established.

Where can I buy fresh Swiss chard?

We can find Swiss chard at most grocery stores, farmer’s markets, and green vegetable retailers like Whole Foods online.

How do I store Swiss chard?

Store Swiss chard in a cool, dry place. Wrap the leafy greens in a paper towel when storing them in the refrigerator. It should last in the refrigerator, or a cool dry crisper for up to 4 days.

Is Swiss chard high or low in calories?

From a caloric standpoint, nutritionists and dieticians say Swiss chard is low to moderate in calories.

What vitamins and minerals does Swiss chard contain?

Swiss chard contains the vitamins A, B1, Thiamin, B2 (riboflavin), C, folate, calcium, potassium, and magnesium.

How does Swiss chard help us improve our health?

Since Swiss chard is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, it may have some health benefits related to its content of antioxidants.
For example, one study found that Swiss chard can help reduce inflammation in the body.

How can we use Swiss chard as homeopathic medicine?

We can use swiss chard as a vegetable in medicine. It is rich in antioxidants, which may help to prevent or reduce the risk of some types of cancer.

What are the side effects of Swiss chard?

The side effects of Swiss chard are currently unknown.

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