One way to jumpstart your chard growing season and get an early harvest is to raise seedlings indoors and then transplant them out once the right weather conditions occur. I never do this because I don’t have the right space available, but you can definitely try it…
Here’s what you need:
- Cool room with a lot of daylight. The more light it gets the better. Room with south facing windows is hence the best. The room temperature should be somewhere around 60 degree fahrenheit (15 degree celsius) to 70 degree fahrenheit (20 degree celsius).
- Seed starting tray. I like the convenience of seed starting tray for raising seedlings, but any other container can work as long as it is at least two inches (five centimeters) deep.
- Potting soil. I use a well-aged compost for all my seedling raising projects. However, some recommend a special potting soil. It’s more sterile, but (unlike compost) lacks nutrients. I suggest using an oganic liquid fertiliser after a week or two if you go with the potting soil.
A good time to start the seeds indoors would be one month before you intend to transplant them in the garden. In my case, this is somewhere in the middle of February, which is approximately one month before I first start sowing chard outside.
Once the time to start comes, fill modules in the seed starting tray with the soil. Next, put one seed(ball) in each module. Then water the soil in the modules and place the seed starting tray on the window shelf…
Keep an eye on the soil. Make sure it’s always moist, but not wet. Since each seedball contains more than one seed, it’s likely you’ll get more than one seedling out of each module. Leave the strongest plant in each module and remove the rest. Don’t pull them out though as you can easily disturb the roots and slow down growth. Instead, use scissors and cut them off at the bottom.
As plants get bigger and bigger, and as your scheduled transplanting date gets closer and closer, it’s time to start hardening the chard to prepare it for outside growing. Put the seed starting tray outside (on the sun if possible) in the morning and take it inside in the evening. Do it at least every day at least one week before you transplant the seedlings out in the garden. And don’t forget to water them well before and after transplanting.
If you don’t have the right space or time to raise your own seedlings, you can try finding them in in nearby nurseries and get an early harvest in that way.