Perennial chard – A sequel

In 2015, I published a blog post entitled ‘Perennial chard’, which has had more hits than any other. Now, I don’t know why precisely people are searching this topic, except from the occasional search term suggesting they are curious to know if indeed chard is perennial.

Unfortunately, these readers will have been disappointed in the post if that is what they wanted to know, as my post simple ponders the possibility that it is. At that time, I was doing an experiment with the first chard I had sown and was waiting for the results.

That patch of chard bolted, which I have observed with all the chard since. In my climate it grows over the summer and can withstand the winter. Then it flowers in the next year and subsequent leaves are very small. As for the stems, they become gnarled and extremely tough – almost too tough to cut through and I imagine they would remain so when cooked.

So, in short, it seems that chard is biennial, at least here. However, it self-seeds readily, which I first observed last spring, after mulching with compost which contained the seeds from the boltings in 2015.

The upshot of this unintended event was that I named 2016 ‘The year of chard’, as the garden was full of the stuff. I ended up giving it away by the armful throughout the winter and spring. Only the guinea pigs who had the last of it never said no!

Now, I have my fresh self-sown crop, which is considerably more manageable. Just a handful of plants, which are still plenty for our needs, though not quite enough for guinea pigs as well.

Swiss chard ‘Bright lights’ 2017


I have tried not to put anymore seeds in the compost bin, although I’m not sure I have succeeded 100%. Still, it would be a shame not to have a crop next year, for the sake of a few misplaced plants. They can at least be removed and I am getting better at being ruthless on that front.

All in all, the packet of seeds I bought three years ago has been one of my best investments. This does make the lack of cucumbers and courgettes less of a let-down. If only my daughter would develop an appetite for it, too.

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About Helen

I have always been interesting in living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle and used to do what I could. Now, I have come to realise that we have reached such a point in terms of environmental degradation that it is more important - perhaps - to focus on building resilience. I therefore do as much as I can to reuse, grow my own and encourage a supportive community, for example. I also keep reading and learning all the time.
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13 Responses to Perennial chard – A sequel

  1. gaiainaction says:

    Very interesting Helen and great to have such a large provision of healthy chard food! And you are going to find this hard to believe but when we came back from Gozo in April the first thing I did was to go to market and buy chard plants as I thought it too late to sow. Well how many months is that ago now….five I think and these chard plants have not grown one inch! Can you believe it? I did put them in a container which I thought would do them fine and the compost was the one I bought. I also gave them some of my liquid food from my composter. So it seems that this summer we are not going to get chard anytime soon!

    • Helen says:

      That is such a shame, Agnes! I think it would have been okay to sow timewise but maybe the seeds would have been unsuccessful, too.

      Another reason for my allowing the chard to self-seed is that now it has presumably naturalised to my garden conditions, it would be a shame to have to start again with new, shop-bought seeds. (I seem to remember the initial sowings didn’t produce particularly impressive results.)

  2. Clare Pooley says:

    I grew chard last year – Bright Lights with their yellow and red stems – and they did really well. Unfortunately, neither my husband nor my daughter would eat it. What a waste of time and effort!

  3. Bright lights are fabulous .. I have them growing in the garden now. My chard or silverbeet doesn’t get to the biennial stage .. too much happening in my garden and my chooks are ever hopeful 😃

  4. That was an impressive packet of seeds, Helen. What a beautifully colored vegetable, too.

I love to read about your own experiences and any other feedback you have, so look forward to your comments below.

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