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Growing a few plants of this easy-to-grow and long-lasting leafy vegie ensures there’s always something to greenand nutritious to harvest for dinner. Silverbeet is packed full of nutrients, vitamins K, B6, C and E as well as folate and iron.
Silverbeet is often called spinach but its large puckered leaves and stiff stems are more robust than the delicate leaves of true or English spinach. It is also known as Swiss chard and perpetual spinach. Silverbeet with colourful yellow, orange or red stems is known as rainbow chard. Use leaves raw in salads or use cooked leaves and stems in stir-fry, soups, omelettes and frittatas. Note: Stems are bitter, so they take longer to cook than then leaves.
Follow our seven easy steps to successful silverbeet harvest including tips along the way.
When to plant and location
When to plant
Silverbeet is a long lasting and highly productive vegetable. It grows year round in all areas and is both cold and heat tolerant.
- Although silverbeet grows all year, the best time to sow seeds to start new plants in cool zones is during spring and summer.
- In warm zones, seeds can be planted year round.
- Silverbeet grows best in full sun (or with light afternoon shade in hotter climates) in fertile soil that holds moisture.
- It can be grown in garden beds, large containers or raised vegie beds.
- To grow silverbeet in a container, choose a pot that is 20-30cm across and grow one plant per pot.
Get the soil right to harvest a bumper crop of delicious silverbeet. Follow our steps for easy soil preparation.
- Silverbeet likes to grow in free-draining soil.
- Dig in compost or well-rotted manure before planting or apply Seasol Liquid Compost as poor soils lead to poor growth and a tendency of plants to ‘bolt’ (produce flowers at the expense of leafy growth).
- Silverbeet prefers a neutral to slightly alkaline soil so adding a handful of lime before planting is beneficial and ensures good growth.
- A soil rich in nutrients helps build strong plants so add Seasol Plant + Soil Booster (100g per square metre) and a fertiliser such as PowerFeed Controlled Release Tomatoes & Vegetables.
Step 1 – Sowing seeds
- Grow from seed sown directly in well-prepared, moist soil. Sow the seed in shallow rows about 2cm deep and 20-30cm apart.
- Press the seed firmly into the soil and lightly cover it.
- In trays or punnets, put a couple of seeds in each cell or scatter seeds into the punnets.
- Water in well with Seasol, as this will help to increase seed germination rates. Soil should be moist but not wet.
Note: This is not silverbeet seeds, it’s just an illustration to show seeds being planted.
Step 2 – Silverbeet germination
- Seeds will start to emerge out of the soil within 10 to 14 days depending on the temperature. It may take longer if the temperature is cooler.
- For faster seed germination rates in seed trays, put them inside on a heating pad.
- When silverbeets sprout, they only have two leaves. These seedlings leaves look like two fat hearts on either side of the stem.
- Ensure your tiny plants stay moist but not wet. Apply Seasol weekly (30mL of concentrate per 9 litres of water) as this will help to stimulate strong root development and healthy growth.
Step 3 – Baby silverbeet seedlings
- If overcrowded, select the strongest seedling and either transplant the thinnings (the plants that are removed) or eat them in salad.
- Excess seedlings can also be snipped off at the base.
- Silverbeet seedlings need water and nutrients to keep them sweet and juicy.
- Liquid feed weekly with a fertiliser high in nitrogen and potassium such as PowerFeed PRO SERIES for Tomatoes & Vegetables. (Mix 20mL of concentrate per 9 litres of water.)
Step 4 – Planting out silverbeet seedlings
- Where plants are grown from your own seedlings, transplant them at around 3-5cm high. Space 20-30cm apart and press firmly into the soil.
- Where seedlings are purchased, plant according to the directions on the plant tag.
- Water your newly transplanted seedling with Seasol, as this will help reduce transplant shock. Check the moisture level of the soil daily and water when needed.
- Once a week feed your silverbeet seedlings with PowerFeed PRO SERIES for Tomatoes & Vegetables. Increase the application rates from 20mL to 50mL of concentrate per 9 litres of water as the plants mature.
Step 5 – Silverbeet plant growth
- Watch your plants grow over the following weeks as the stalks and leaves develop and mature. Watch out for pests that love to eat the juicy leaves.
- Keep developing plants hand weeded or hoed and well watered.
- Mulch with sugar cane mulch or pea straw around each plant to help suppresses weeds and retain soil moisture.
- Every 6-8 weeks apply another application of PowerFeed Controlled Release for Tomatoes & Vegetables to produce a bumper crop.
Step 6 – Silverbeet harvest
- Silverbeet generally takes around 8-12 weeks from sowing until the plant is large enough to start to harvest the leaves.
- This is a cut-and-come-again plant. Pick leaves from the outside of the clump cutting them close at the plant base.
- Leave at least four or five young leaves to keep the plant growing.
- To harvest the whole plant, cut the silverbeet at the bottom of the stem about 5cm above the soil. This will enable the plant to produce more leaves.
- Once the leaves have been harvested, wash thoroughly and then store in a bag in the fridge for later use.
Things to watch out for……
- Leaf spot: Small, brown, regularly shaped spots on the leaves are often seen in hot, humid weather or where plants are overcrowded. Remove the worst affected leaves but minor damage won’t affect harvest. Water and liquid feed to encourage strong, new growth.
- Birds Pest: species such as sparrows may peck at leaves and can severely damage new seedlings. If birds are a problem, cover rows with taut netting until young plants establish.
- Earwigs: This tiny dark brown pest hides and feeds among the leaves and may make holes in the leaves. Squash any that are seen. Traps made of screwed up paper in a jar can reduce numbers. Empty traps each morning.
- Grasshoppers: These pests chew leaves and can severely damage new seedlings. If grasshoppers are a problem, cover rows with taut netting until young plants establish.
- Slugs and snails: These pests can destroy seedlings and may damage older leaves leaving ragged holes. Slugs may also hide in the base of the plant. Snails and slugs are active at night. Use iron-based, non-toxic baits.