Chard Growth Stages & Timelines (With Pictures)

Kasey Spencer
Chard Growth Stages & Timelines

Chard, or Swiss chard as some call it, isn’t just versatile in the kitchen; it’s also remarkably adaptable in the garden. Whether you’re working with a spacious backyard plot or a modest container garden on a city balcony, chard grows with an enthusiasm that’s hard to match. Its growth stages, from the tiny, hopeful seed to the lush, harvest-ready plant, are a journey worth understanding for every gardener.

Why focus on chard? Beyond its nutritional benefits – packed with vitamins A, K, and C, as well as minerals like magnesium and iron – chard is a vibrant addition to the garden. Its leaves and stalks, ranging in color from green to red to golden, add a dash of beauty to the greens.

In this guide, we’re not just sharing how to grow chard; we’re exploring the essential milestones of its growth, the timelines you can expect, and the practices that can make your chard gardening experience both successful and enjoyable.

Chard Growth Stages and Timelines

Growing chard is a rewarding process, marked by distinct stages from the moment you plant the seeds to the day you harvest. Here’s a closer look at each stage and tips to maximize your success.

1. Germination

Chard germination

Chard seeds thrive in soil temperatures between 50°F and 85°F (10°C to 29°C). This broad range makes chard an excellent candidate for early spring and late summer planting. The ideal temperature range helps seeds germinate quickly and healthily.

Expected Germination Timeline and Accelerating the Process

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Typically, chard seeds germinate within 5 to 14 days. If you’re eager to see those green sprouts sooner, consider soaking the seeds in water for 24 hours before planting. This pre-soaking can reduce germination time significantly by softening the seed coat, allowing moisture to penetrate more readily.

2. Seedling

Chard Seedling

A healthy chard seedling will have bright, robust green leaves and a sturdy stem. Look for seedlings that stand tall, without leaning or yellowing, which indicates strong root development and good overall health.

Thinning Practices for Optimal Growth

Thinning is crucial once your seedlings are about 3-4 inches tall. Chard plants should be spaced about 8-12 inches apart. Thinning ensures that each plant has enough room to grow, reducing competition for nutrients and light. Use scissors to snip the extra seedlings at the soil level, avoiding disturbance to the roots of the plants you’re keeping.

3. Vegetative Growth

chard garden

During the vegetative stage, chard leaves will expand, and the plants will develop a robust root system. Look for vibrant, expansive leaves and the emergence of new growth from the plant’s center. These are signs of a healthy, thriving chard plant.

Watering and Feeding Your Chard During This Stage

Chard requires consistent moisture, especially during dry periods. Aim for about 1 inch of water per week, through rainfall or supplemental watering. A balanced, slow-release fertilizer applied once or twice during this stage can support leafy growth. However, be cautious with nitrogen-heavy fertilizers, which can promote excessive leaf growth at the expense of overall plant health.

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4. Maturation

chard maturation
Image: Envato Elements

Chard can be harvested at almost any stage after true leaves form, but full maturity is reached when leaves are about 8-12 inches long. The leaves should be firm, brightly colored, and free from significant blemishes or yellowing.

How to Harvest Chard Leaves to Encourage Continued Growth

Harvest chard leaves from the outside, allowing the younger, inner leaves to continue growing. Cut leaves about 1-2 inches above the soil line with sharp scissors or a knife. This method encourages new growth and can result in multiple harvests from a single plant throughout the season. Remember, the more you harvest, the more your chard will produce, so don’t hesitate to pick leaves regularly.

Understanding and navigating these stages with care will ensure your chard grows vigorously and yields a plentiful harvest. Gardening is a journey of learning and discovery, and with each season, your skills and your garden will flourish.

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