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'Bright Lights' Swiss chard adds color to the garden

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Swiss chard is a delicious and nutritious veggie that resembles beet greens – minus the beetroot, of course. While traditional Swiss chard has white stems and slightly crinkled green leaves, and rhubarb chard has deep red stems and green leaves veined with red, the stems of ‘Bright Lights’ range in color from white, yellow and gold to deep red and purple with a few pink or striped stems. Leaves may be tinted in varying shades of red/green with veins that match the stem color.

‘Bright Lights’ Swiss chard is well suited for adding to borders in flowerbeds or grown in containers to create a dazzling display. Try adding ‘Bright Lights’ to neglected areas of the garden, in raised mounds or simply mixed in with other veggies for a dramatic display of color in your garden.

Growing ‘Bright Lights’ Swiss chard

  • Select a location for Swiss chard that receives full sun for six to eight hours a day Although chard performs best in full sun, afternoon shade during the hottest part of summer offers protection from the sun. . It prefers fertile, well-drained soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0, so add plenty of organic matter to the soil and work it into the top six inches of soil.
  • Sow seeds in the spring as soon as the soil can be worked. These veggies prefer cool growing temperatures and are not damaged by spring frosts.
  • Plant the seeds to a depth of ½ inch spaced 6 inches apart. Cover the seeds with soil and firm them down with your hands to secure them and remove air pockets.
  • Keep the soil moist until seedlings emerge in 5 to 10 days, depending on the soil temperature. Swiss chard will germinate in soil as cool as 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Optimal germination occurs at 85 degrees, says the Cornell University Extension.
  • Water Swiss chard once or twice a week or whenever the soil feels dry to the touch one inch below the surface.
  • Harvest the outer leaves when they are 5 to 6 inches high by cutting them near the soil level. New leaves will continue to form in the center of the plant.

Like beet seed, Swiss chard seeds are actually a cluster of seeds. More than one plant will sprout from the seed. Thin Swiss chard as necessary once the seedlings emerge.

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