Extension Logo
Extension Logo
University of Minnesota Extension

Growing spinach and Swiss chard in home gardens

A quick guide to spinach and Swiss chard 

  • You can direct seed both spinach and Swiss chard. You can also transplant Swiss chard.
  • Spinach is day-length sensitive, while chard is not.
  • Spinach and Swiss chard can grow new leaves after the first harvest, especially if you harvest individual leaves at the "baby" stage, so multiple harvests are possible.
  • You can cook spinach and Swiss chard, as well as eat them raw.

Popular leafy greens

Swiss chard plants with green leaves and red stems

Swiss chard and spinach are leafy greens in the amaranth family, grown in many Minnesota gardens.

You can eat spinach (Spinacia oleracea) leaves raw or cooked. You can also cook and eat the “crown” of the plant, the area where all the leaves emerge at the soil surface.

Chard (Beta vulgaris) is the same species as beet, and you can use its leaves just like beet greens. While beets form a large taproot and develop a modest crop of leaves, chard grows a large crop of giant leaves and a thin, branched taproot. You can use chard leaves raw in salads, as well as cook them. The upright ruffled leaves with thick leaf stalks are attractive in the garden, with colors ranging from green and white to pink, red, orange and yellow.

While spinach is always available in grocery stores and on restaurant menus, chard is a less common vegetable. In the garden, chard is easy to grow, yielding tasty leaves from spring through fall, while spinach can be very frustrating to gardeners.

Soil pH and fertility


Selecting plants




How to keep your spinach and Swiss chard plants healthy and productive


Managing pests, diseases, and disorders

Many things can affect spinach and Swiss chard. Changes in physical appearance and plant health can be caused by the environment, plant diseases, insects and wildlife. In order to address what you’re seeing, it is important to make a correct diagnosis.

You can find additional help identifying common pest problems by using the online diagnostic tools or by sending a sample to the UMN Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic. You can use Ask a Master Gardener to share pictures and get input.


Authors: Marissa Schuh, integrated pest management extension educator, and Jill MacKenzie

Reviewed in 2022

Page survey

© 2024 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved. The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.