Chard ?

leava(z7OK)December 9, 2012

I love chard.I am stalking each stalk....
Since it is cold hardy when should I start seeds for new planting? Gonna baby these current plants but want 3-4 more.

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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Hi Leava,

The OSU-recommended planting time for Swiss Chard transplants is Feb. 15th through March 10th. I usually start seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before that depending on how warm or cold the weather is.

Swiss Chard is pretty cold-hardy and will take a lot of cold. Sometimes it freezes back to the ground when the temps drop below about 20 degrees, but often begins putting out new growth within mere days as long as there is some sunlight and above-freezing temperatures.

I've kept Swiss chard plants alive and producing for between 18-24 months sometimes. Right now I have about 6 or 8 varieties out in the garden, and they were mulched but not covered up with row cover last night. I haven't gone out and checked them yet to see what sort of damage they incurred, if any, with last night's 23 degree temperature and snow.

Dawn

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 10:26AM
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seeker1122(7a ok)

I still have 2 plants a white lucullus
and bright lights not too big but plenty for
me funny the bl didn't start changing
color till it got cold.
I think I'll nurse them as u did
I've been covering them.
tree

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 1:18AM
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macmex

We planted Russian kale this fall and have some under plastic, which is growing very well. We LOVE it! It fits the "Chard slot" very well. I'm hoping to start chard in February. But in the mean time we are thankful for kale.

George
Tahlequah, OK

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 10:33AM
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tracydr(9b)

Chard is just the best plant, isn't it? It's like a year round green for me, even in AZ!
I grow some in the shade with just a little sun and it lasts all summer, with our 110 plus heat for 4 months!
I grow a lot of chard and we eat all of it. We eat it lightly stir-fried for breakfast with poached eggs on top. A bit of garlic, s/p and a touch of nutmeg. Yummy!

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 8:43PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Swiss Chard and kale perform wonderfully here, but all mine froze back hard when we went to between 9-12 degrees one night earlier this week (different thermometers showed different overnight low temps). Not all of the kale froze back. Some of the Red Russian Kale just looked a tiny bit freeze damaged and then bounced right back. While everything showed freeze damage, the red cabbage showed the least damage, and the kale came in second. Most of the Swiss Chard froze back almost to the ground, but already is putting out new growth.

I've had Swiss Chard survive virtually every summer as long as I watered it. If I stop watering in a extremely hot and dry summer, it does die. In good years I can keep Swiss Chard plants going for well over a year, and sometimes close to two years, though eventually an extra hot summer or extra cold winter night will kill it.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2012 at 9:55AM
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susanlynne48(OKC7a)

That IS Chard for you - takes a licking and keeps on ticking.....lol!

It really is a very, very tough plant. Tolerates our summer heat, and our winter cold. We have the weirdest seasons, don't we? I wish there were many more versatile plants like Chard.

Susan

    Bookmark   December 16, 2012 at 8:52AM
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mulberryknob

I had given up on growing Chard outdoors because the black blister beetles would strip it in one day. But after we built the greenhouse I started planting it inside in the fall. Have a good crop right now that I am picking. When I planted outdoors I planted in early March at the same time I planted beets.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2012 at 10:02PM
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Waurika

Oh my gosh! Chard gets invaded by blister beetle?

I have had full intentions of growing several tubs of it for my horses. Horses can literally die from injesting blister beetle body parts. Even get blisters in their mouths from the left over mucas on a plant. This is serious stuff.

What can I do to make sure there are no blister beetles? Like really, really make sure? Paranoid I do not want to kill my horses make sure?

    Bookmark   December 16, 2012 at 11:15PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Waurika, You could grow the Swiss Chard totally and completely under secure row cover or cages made of window screening and wood. Wash it very thoroughly. If you planted it in low tunnels with the floating row cover fabric tightly secured to the ground, you could exclude the blister beetles. Timing alone might help too. Swiss chard planted in fall and harvested throughout winter and spring likely wouldn't be visited by blister beetles, which tend to be more of a hot weather pest.

Blister beetles can and will get on just about anything in years when their population soars. In my garden they seem to prefer bean plants and tomato plants, but after they eat those up, they move on to cucumbers and other stuff.

The last two years, we have had ridiculous numbers of blister beetles. They haven't always been this bad. This year they arrived very, very late in the season at our place here in extreme southern OK--probably a month or two after folks in NE OK and gardeners in adjacent states were reporting huge numbers of them as well.

If you are not a die-hard organic grower, you could check around and maybe find a chemical pesticide registered for use on blister beetles. I an not an absolute die-hard organic grower, but am pretty close to it, so I generally don't spray for pests and am not aware of anything organic that kills blister beetles. Maybe something that is synthetic in nature is effective on them.

Dealing with blister beetles is a two-edged sword. To the extent that I can, I leave them alone. Why? Because they devour grasshopper eggs. Most years, grasshoppers are my worst pest as they continually migrate in from elsewhere because the veggie garden remains irrigated and green long after the surrounding countryside is brown. So, if I kill off all the blister beetles, I'm losing one of the few natural controls for grasshoppers. If I let the blister beetles live, in a bad year (like 2012) they'll devour my bean, tomato and cucumber plants and then move on to other stuff. It is hard to do what to do at times.

Some years I trick the blister beetles. I plant a 'trap crop' of chard in the garden for them to eat because they flock to the garden. Then, I plant the Swiss chard for us in the flower bed by the house, where it happily grows alongside cannas, hibiscus, elephant ears, etc. It looks all tropical there with them, and the blister beetles are down in the garden where they know they can find chard, while our chard is hiding on the east side of the house. Gardening in Oklahoma sometimes requires you to play lots of mind-games with the pests.

Dawn

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 12:22AM
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