Swiss chard seeds (Beta vulgaris cicla) are easy to plant, fairly easy to find if you'd like to buy them, and are fun to save once you have some planted.
They are about 1/8" (3-5 mm) in diameter and remind me of small rough tan or black pebbles.
Since the seeds are so large and are not poisonous, they're very nice for use with small children ... and if a seed gets away from you, you can usually find it, unlike lettuce or spinach seeds.
Many local nurseries, garden centers, and box stores will have chard seeds for sale on shelf displays. However, the selection is usually limited to whatever they have on hand.
If you're looking for a particular variety or want a large amount of seed, ordering online is often best.
I could list every seed supplier in the US that has Swiss chard, but then this page would go on forever.
A lot of the smaller suppliers will put their seeds on Amazon, though, and searching there is worth it if you really like buying there (as I do!) or want a particular variety or quantity.
Although Suttons Seeds is a British company, they ship seed-only orders across the entire EU and come highly recommended by my friends who live in England.
Soak seed in water before planting, then plant directly into the garden two weeks before your last frost date in the spring, or ten weeks before your first frost date in the fall.
Sow seed 3" (8 cm) apart, 1/2-3/4" (1-1.5cm) deep, then thin to 8-12" (20-30 cm) apart. Protect young seedlings from frost.
A lot of times you'll get two (or more!) plants in one seed. You can snip out the extra one, let it grow to be extra-bushy, or separate the two plants once they've grown up a bit.
Lots more information on my page about how to grow Swiss chard.
Since Swiss chard is biennial, it produces seeds in the spring of its second year. Unfortunately, Swiss chard is only hardy to about 15 degrees F (-9C).
If the temperature in your area goes significantly below that and you want to save seed, you should either take measures to protect your plants from frost or pot up the plants in fall and replant them in spring. Set them outside again four to six weeks before your last frost date.
The first sign of seed production is bolting (the formation of a tall seed stalk), which happens in late spring when the temperature starts to rise. Then yellow-green flowers form, followed by seed capsules along the stem.
When the stems turn brown, collect the stems and seed capsules in a paper bag -- the easiest way to do this is
Fold the end of the bag to keep dust out and set in a cool dry place -- the seeds will loosen and fall to the bottom over the course of a week or two. Chard seed will keep for three years or so.
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