Grows best in rich, moist soil with a pH of 6.0-6.8. Does best with an even supply of water, 1-1.5 inches per week. Set out plants 2 to 4 weeks before the date of the last frost in spring. A spring planting will produce through spring, summer, and fall. Keeping them watered, these plants tolerate heat well. The leaves can be green or red in color. Bred to have highly nutritious leaves, making it a good addition to healthy diets. Clusters of seeds are usually sown between April and August, depending on the desired harvesting period. Chard can be harvested while the leaves are young and tender, or after maturity when they are larger and have slightly tougher stems. Harvesting is a continuous process, as most species of chard produce three or more crops.
Chard is very popular among Mediterranean cooks. The first varieties have been traced back to Sicily. It has been around for centuries, however because of its similarity to beets is difficult to determine the exact evolution of the different varieties.
Chard and the other beets are chenopods, a group which is either its own family Chenopodiaceae or a subfamily within the Amaranthaceae. Although the leaves are eaten, it is in the same group and subfamily as beetroot (garden beet), which is usually grown primarily for its edible roots.
Chard, Beta vulgaris subsp. cicla is a sub species of Beta vulgaris, the beetroot and has been bred to have highly nutritious leaves at the expense of the root. It has shiny, green, ribbed leaves, with stems that range from white to yellow to red, depending on the cultivar.
The word “Swiss” was used to distinguish chard from French spinach varieties by 19th century seed catalogue publishers.
Chard is also known by its many common names such as Swiss chard, Silverbeet, Perpetual spinach, Spinach beet, Crab beet. Seakale beet.