Swiss Chard is so quick and easy to grow you just have to include it in your plot.
Harvest leaves from around the outside of the plant and the centre will carry on growing, producing leaves right into the winter.
Time from seed to plate: 12 weeks
Sow Swiss Chard seeds outside from April to August. Sow either by 'Station Sowing' - planting 3 or 4 seeds 1/2 an inch deep together in clusters 12 inches apart, or sow seeds in gutters. Gutters are our preferred option - It's a quick way to sow, and it's easy to tease out individual plants for planting out.
One gutter is probably all you'll need. Fill it with compost, firm, and create a shallow groove down the centre about 1/2 an inch deep. Sprinkle the seed in sparingly aiming for one every 1/2 inch or so, and water.
When the seedlings come up, thin to leave 2 inches between plants.
Sowing method: Gutters
Thin station sown plants so one remains in each cluster. Plant out gutter sown plants when they're 3-4 inches tall. Separate the plants with a trowel and transfer to final growing positions, spaced at 12 inches apart in both directions. Water in well.
As soon as your plants are 5-6 inches tall you can pull off a few baby leaves from around the outside for salads. Make sure you leave 2 inches of plant behind, and it will quickly resprout with new leaves.
Once the plants are established - 12-18 inches tall - pick by twisting off leaves from around the stem. The heart will keep growing upwards for months to come, even through the winter in milder areas.