Are you growing swiss chard in Illinois, but don’t know when the best time to harvest them is?
Harvesting swiss chard is not as easy as it seems.
- Swiss Chard have a very short window when they can be harvested and still taste great.
So if you harvest them too early they may not be ready and taste bad. And if you harvest them too late they may become infected with mold, fungus, insects, etc., and become inedible.
Today, I’m going to teach you the ideal time to harvest swiss chard in Illinois:
- To Learn More About HOW to Grow Swiss Chard, Check Out This GUIDE!
When Do I Harvest Swiss Chard in Illinois?
As you may have already guessed, there are two main factors that determine when you should harvest your swiss chard: the physical features of the swiss chard & weather (time).
Harvest Swiss Chard if They Look Like This!!!
The physical features of swiss chard are what most gardeners commonly rely on to determine if they are ready to be picked off the plant or not.
In general, you should harvest swiss chard if they have the following physical features:
- The entire swiss chard is a solid red color. If the swiss chard is a lighter shade of red, it is not ready to be harvested
- The swiss chard is slightly soft. Too hard means it is not ready. Too soft means it is overripe (but still edible)
- Easily able to be deattached from the the plant. This means it has absorbed all the nutrients it needs and is ready.
Harvest Your Swiss Chard During THIS Time of Year!!!
In general, you should harvest swiss chard:
- 65 to 85 days after starting swiss chard from seed
- 40 to 50 days after planting swiss chard in your garden
- 20 to 30 days after swiss chard first appear
And no matter what, you should ALWAYS harvest your swiss chard before the first frost of the year. Frost will immediately kill your swiss chard plant and make your swiss chard inedible.
For your reference, I have created this table for average frost dates for most major cities in Illinois. If your city is not listed below you can find its Last & First Frost Dates HERE.
Illinois Last & First Frost Dates
It should be noted that you should not overly rely on the first frost of the year. The average first frost of the year is only correct 30% of the time.
Instead, pay close attention to your local weather.
When you know a frost is coming you need to take action.
- If swiss chard are in pots, bring them inside
- If swiss chard are in the ground, cover them in burlap and hope they survive
- Pick all swiss chard. If they are not ready, place them in a brown paper bag and store them for approximately 1 to 2 weeks to see if they become edible.
If you want to learn WHEN to harvest ANY Vegetable in Illinois, head over to HERE and just type in the vegetable you want to grow.