A form of beet (Beta vulgaris) grown for its tasty leaves and stalks, this is one of the easiest vegetables for the home garden. It probably originated in the Mediterranean. New leaves grow up from the center of plants, continue for months, and seldom bolt (go to seed). They're delicious eaten fresh in salads or steamed.
'Fordhook Giant', a heavy-yielding selection with white stalks and crinkled green leaves, is the standard Swiss chard. For something more colorful, try 'Rhubarb' or 'Vulcan'; both sport blood-red stalks. 'Bright Lights', with stalks of yellow, orange, pink, purple, white, and red, is as good an ornamental as it is a vegetable. 'Peppermint' has pink-and-white striped stems.
All Swiss chards take about 60 days from sowing to harvest.For a summer crop, sow the big, crinkly, tan seeds 12 to 34 in. deep at any time from early spring to early summer. For a fall crop, sow in early August. For a winter crop in the Coastal and Tropical South, sow in October. Sow about six seeds per foot in rows 1122 ft. apart. Thin seedlings to 1 ft. apart. Apply a complete fertilizer after plants are established. About two months after sowing (when plants are generally 1112 ft. tall), you can begin to harvest leaves from the base by cutting or breaking them off.