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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 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

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Selecting plants

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Planting

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

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Jill MacKenzie

Reviewed in 2018

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