For reasons I’m not entirely clear on, I became obsessed with growing Swiss chard. It was my one goal for the fall in terms of new plantings. But I was curious if there would be a remarkable difference between growing Swiss chard from seeds in soil versus dropping the seeds into a pod in the AeroGarden. And there absolutely was!
Planting Swiss Chard in the Soil
I decided to directly sow white Swiss chard seeds into a rich soil in one of our raised garden beds at the end of July. The spot got a significant amount of light but was shaded during the harshest summer heat. Swiss chard tolerates heat and cold relatively well – certainly better than most leafy greens. But our August and September months were particularly nasty this year, with a 10-day period of more than 100 degrees, so we had some concerns.
What Do You Need to Grow Swiss Chard in Soil?
Swiss chard needs space to grow (at least 12 inches between plants) and well-draining soil. I had some compost on the top and an excellent balanced organic soil on the bottom. Swiss chard also needs a lot of water. This was tough for us, as we are under restricted watering because of the drought in Southern California. So, I water spiked the seedlings so that a bit of water would get to the roots between our scheduled watering days.
Growing Swiss Chard in an AeroGarden
AeroGarden has a variety of pods already seeded, but white Swiss chard (or any) wasn’t among them at the time. Also, I already had Swiss chard seeds, so I knew I could seed an empty pod myself and be ready to go in no time. I started my experiment in mid-September (nearly two full months after I planted the seeds in the soil).
The spacing issues can become significant in the AeroGarden. I only planted two other “crops” at the time: Italian parsley and oregano. And I kept them on one end of the planter, and the Swiss chard was at the other. This was an excellent decision because the Swiss chard gets very tall, the leaves are enormous, and the root system is significant.
The Results of the Swiss Chard Experiment
The Swiss chard grown in the AeroGarden was a huge success. Within three weeks, we started harvesting it. Actually, because the leaves are exceptionally flavorful when they are smaller, we could have snipped them earlier. As it is, we began harvesting it when the leaves were already larger than our bananas (nearly twice as large as the palm of my hands).
The Swiss chard growing in the outdoor container garden is still only 2 ½ inches tall, and we haven’t harvested it yet. It looks good. It seems like it might get there eventually, but it has taken so long.
Why Was There Such a Difference?
No matter the variety, Swiss chard requires significant amounts of water, and it needs it consistently. Because AeroGarden is a Smart hydroponic garden, the amount of water is a constant. It also tells you when your plants need organic fertilizer, and you set the exact amount of light available to the plants. Unless you have a greenhouse with fairly sophisticated heating, cooling, lighting, and watering systems, it will be harder to grow Swiss chard outside – particularly in the summer months in Los Angeles.
If you want to start growing vegetables right now, you can do it with the AeroGarden. In fact, we got our first one as a Christmas gift in 2020 (thank you, dad!) and started using it immediately. I love that we can grow vegetables all year long in our kitchen. And, yes, I am seriously eyeing their multi-level Farm system. One of these days…
We are using the Bounty Elite Artisan – it has a ceramic base which feels sturdier to me. I also like that there is slightly less plastic in the unit, but it does make it heavier when it comes to cleaning time.
As I said, we got our AeroGarden as a gift. But if you want to buy one, you can either go directly to their website or grab it through Amazon. We aren’t getting paid by AeroGarden to rave about their products (we just love them), but if you buy it through Amazon, we might get a small commission.
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