SPINACH, SPINACH BEET, CHARD
Leafy chard, spinach and spinach beet are easy to grow, tasty and full of goodness. Here’s our guide to growing your own.
About spinach, spinach beet and chard
Chard is mainly sown in the spring for picking over the summer, although by protecting the crop with a cloche, leaves can be harvested during autumn and winter. Spinach can either be sown in spring for a summer crop, or in the autumn for leaves to pick over winter. Choose your varieties carefully – some are ideal for spring sowing and others for autumn. To make life easier, pick easy growing varieties that are happy to be sown in either season.
These leafy crops are ideal to grow in rows on the allotment or vegetable patch, or due to their brightly coloured stems and glossy leaves, try striking varieties of chard at the front of a flower border. Alternatively, if you have a small garden they can be raised in large containers. Grow in a sunny or slightly shaded spot in moisture retentive soil.
What to do
- Dig the soil in the spring before sowing, removing big stones, weeds and incorporating plenty of garden compost or well-rotted manure.
How to sow seeds
- To sow chard – from mid March to mid May – make a trench 2.5cm deep with a garden cane and space seeds about 8cm apart. Cover, water and label – subsequent rows need to be about 38cm apart.
- For a summer crop, spinach can be sown from early spring to the middle of June – sow seeds 2.5cm apart in trenches 1cm deep, cover and water.
- New rows should be about 30cm apart. For a constant supply, try sowing a new row every three weeks. For leaves to pick over winter, sow spinach in late summer and early autumn.
- When the seedlings are about 2cm tall thin out to leave the strongest seedlings plenty of space to grow – chard needs 30cm between plants, spinach beet 38cm and spinach 25cm.
- Keep the soil around plants free of weeds and water plants in the soil every two weeks, adding a high nitrogen liquid fertiliser to the mix.
- Spring sowings should be ready to be picked within 12 weeks.
- Take what you need by cutting leaves from the outside of the plant, taking care to avoid damage to the roots.
- By picking often, plenty of new leaves will be produced.
Five to try
- ‘Bright Lights’ – mixture of chard with red, white, orange, yellow and pink stems
- ‘Ruby Chard’ – glossy green leaves, red stems and veins
- ‘Lucullus’ – Swiss chard with large white stems
- ‘Perpetual Spinach’ – spinach beet with narrow stems and dark green leaves
‘Space’ – dark green spinach for spring or autumn sowing.