hamiltongardener

Swiss chard flopping over

hamiltongardener
12 years ago

I need some suggestions on my swiss chard. My seedlings are lanky and are falling over. They continue to grow and are not being eaten by anything, it's just that they are way too topheavy. the stem is about an inch long above the ground before it hits the crown(?) where the leaves start to form. They have gotten plenty of sun and warmth, so I don't think it's a matter of them getting too lanky by lack of sunlight. They just have very thin stems.

Is it ok to bury the seedlings up to those crowns, similar to what you would do to a tomato seedling? Or will that kill the plant?

Is there anything I can do to prevent this?

Comments (22)

  • Macmex
    12 years ago

    Did you start them indoors? Are they indoors in containers? I would think you could do as you say as long as the crown isn't underground.

    I've never started chard indoors. I just plant it directly outside when we are past danger of real hard freezes. If you are starting it indoors, my guess is that the plants are leggy simply because they would like more light.
    George
    Tahlequah, OK

  • murkwell
    12 years ago

    I don't know whether its OK to bury them deep, but if I had a similar experience the next time I would probably give the plants less warmth, perhaps more light, and some breeze or vibration next time to stiffen the stems and make them grow stockier.

  • paveggie
    12 years ago

    Keep 'em cool (and well ventilated as murky said), and thinned. Most chard is a multiple seed ball, as their beet relatives. If all are left to grow, the whole group can be leggy.

  • hamiltongardener
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    Thanks everyone.

    Yes, they are indoors in containers, on a windowsill that gets the full day's sun. I did pinch off the extras when they sprouted, leaving only one per container.

    I will be planting seeds outside this weekend now that the soil is no longer frozen. They will get the same amount of sun but temps will be colder. Let's hope that fixes it. As for the ones indoors, I will plant them in the other bed and try to bury the stems a bit. Hopefully the longer days will help.

  • bcomplx
    12 years ago

    Be sure to cover those little guys with something to keep them warm, or they will surely perish. Young chard prefers pretty warm soil temps, and roomy cloches can help with that. Watch out for slugs and cutworms, too.

    Here is a link that might be useful: my season-stretching video

  • robin_maine
    12 years ago

    I'm not convinced they're getting enough sun in the window. They could be falling over because they're stretching to the sun. With it coming in from only one direction they'll have a hard time growing straight.

  • slashy
    12 years ago

    My swiss chard seedlings always fall over between 1 inch and 3 inches of height, no matter how much sun, fertiliser or water they get. It's their problem phase. I usually just scrunch some mulch around the stem to support them a bit and after a few weeks they stand upright again.

  • rosewood513
    12 years ago

    hamiltongardener ---be careful I planted mine outside the other day and they froze over night so harden them off first, I did not do that. I put them under glass and they froze anyway.

  • thefarmguy
    12 years ago

    yes growing chard indoors tends to make it tender and leggy, it seems to work best for me to start them indoors only just before i plan to plant them outside, as soon as they begin to get their first set of true leaves i stick them in the garden, it is still a good idea to harden them off, but they adapt quickly at this young stage, this is one way to get a head start on the ones direct seeded.

  • ligardener
    12 years ago

    A window sill can never deliver the full light that seedlings need to grow strong. A plastic-covered box, or "incubator", sticking out of the window does a much better job. It captures the full sun all day and can accommodate lots of plants. I wrote a gardening book a couple of years ago, where I included a detailed drawing and discussion on building such a box. If you'd like a peek, you can Google Iuniverse Press and find the book, From Seed To Salad.

  • bart1
    12 years ago

    I'm having the same problem with my indoor started Swiss Chard. Could I just bury them deeper when I transplant them instead of making a little mound around the plant? Won't that accomplish the same thing, or will it cause other problems?

    Thanks!
    Bart

  • hamiltongardener
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    I ended up planting the chard up to the crown. It looks like success! The chard is thickening up and has stood upright ever since.

  • bart1
    12 years ago

    Thanks hamiltongardener!

    Did you plant your chard outside already? I've been harding mine off and want to get it outside this weekend, but I'm worried about frost/freezes. We're having a freeze right now and a book I read said not to plant until danger of frost is past. That confused me because I thought of Swiss Chard as being similar to lettuce and being able to handle cold temps.

    I guess the question is how cold hardy is Swiss Chard?

    Thanks again,
    Bart

  • flora_uk
    12 years ago

    Chard is much hardier than any lettuce I have ever grown. I don't know your minimum winter temps but in my garden it overwinters, looking rather scruffy, and grows away in spring. Have you tried sowing it outdoors and missing out the transplanting phase? Transplanting encourages bolting and chard develops a long tap root which I would have thought would make it more difficult to move. The chard in the link is self sown. I only resow every few years as, by leaving a few plants to go to seed, there are always volunteers.

    Here is a link that might be useful:

  • bart1
    12 years ago

    Flora -
    Thanks for the info on Swiss Chard hardiness. Very interesting! This is my first year growing it so I decided to do both direct planting and indoor-started seeds.

    I'm a couple zone cooler than you so I'd be surprised if mine lived through the winter, but my parsley does, so who knows?

    Thanks again for the tips,
    Bart

  • hamiltongardener
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    Bart, I've transplanted them outside, and I've also started some seeds outside now. I didn't start enough inside to fill up the bed I have set aside for them, thus the extra seed planting.

    It's all been an experiment so far with the swiss chard. I'll see which way works best and use it again next year.

    I'm surprised you're getting freezes there. I always thought your area was much warmer than mine.

  • bart1
    12 years ago

    Thanks hamilton!

    I live in Alexandria, VA but my garden is in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountians about 70 miles west of here and it's typically 10 degrees cooler out there, but even so we did have freeze warnings for a couple of nights this week for the DC metro area.

    Thanks again,
    Bart

  • granite
    12 years ago

    My swiss chard overwinters here. I am in the Blue Ridge mountains at 2300' elevation and we are still getting frosts here.

    I let it self-seed every year as this seems to give the strongest plants. The goldfinches have a wonderful time eating the seeds, and they still drop more than enough to grow my next year's crop. I usually have little swiss chard plants all over the place and scoop up a few for other folks.

  • vera_eastern_wa
    12 years ago

    I had done mine with the wintersow method on Mar. 28th (germinated 4th April). Containers uncovered by April 20th and the last average frost date is between May 11-15th. They were planted in the garden by May 1st and were not bothered by frost whatsoever. The only thing that bothered them later were the blasted leaf-miners! UGH! I have found a few left over Swiss Chard 'Bright Lights' that wintered over and are pushing forth new leaves. They had died completely back to the ground so this wasn't expected! Not as fast as the wintered over Red Russian Kale though:D
    April 14th
    {{gwi:42193}}
    June 20th...
    {{gwi:42194}}
    August 22
    {{gwi:42195}}

  • raisemybeds
    12 years ago

    Well, I prefer to plant mine directly, but this Spring it did take a full 3 weeks to see any germination, so I can understand wanting to get it going indoors. I just like to eliminate that whole hardening off issue whenever I can. I figure it knows when to come up, and if it comes up it must be hardy to the present conditions. This season I had a few chard plants that over-wintered, so I cleared away the mulch and planted new chard in the blank spaces around the older plants. So far both are living nicely under a cloche, which is really pretty wide open and ready to come off. The chard will respond to the lengthening days and noonday sun.

  • Lee Perrin
    last month

    Chard is not adventitiously rooted, like Cleome or Cosmos for example. The crown, by the way, is where it comes out of the soil. Do some work. Don't bury it to where it leafs out, unless you intend to bury it altogether.