Beets is chard and chard is beets.
That’s right, they are both the same species Beta vulgaris. And that means they will cross up if you let them.
My favourite thing about growing beet/chard seed is the elongated stems of the flowering plants with their defined edges and stripes that offset the vivid colours.
My second favourite thing is the yield. About 20 pounds from a 100 hundred foot bed. Or 2 pounds if you only grow 10 bedfeet. And if you think about the price of some beet/chard seed, those 10 bedfeet can be very profitable. A definite reason to consider chard/beet seed for #seedsavingformarketgrowers.
Now I’m not supposed to recommend that you only grow 10 feet of a crosser for seed. (There are definitely not enough plants in that area to maintain good genetics)
But if you’re only growing a small population of beet/chard seed it for 1 or 2 generations and then go and get some new seed to start the cycle again, you’ll be fine.
That being said, I’ve not grown tons and tons of beet/chard seed. Simply because I have not been able to get consistently high germination. I suspect that in my race to get the seed out of the field before fall rain, I was harvesting the seed a little too green.
After many years hiatus, we do have some chard going to seed again this spring. Hopefully this fall I can tell you we’ve harvested it at the right stage and it’s germinating magnificently.
Chard/beet seed is probably not a great first seed crop for market growers but if you’re in the right climate, it’s llikely a great fourth or fifth seed crop.
The PROS of saving Beets/Chard seed:
- Easy to grow extra in your market garden and choose the best for seed
- There are some great open pollinated varieties
- Heavy yields
- Those beautiful stems
The CONS of saving Beets/Chard seed:
- BIENNIAL- you need to get these plants to year 2
- Crossers – only grow one variety for seed at a time
- Prefers dry climates – beet seed does not thrive in humid climates, a tunnel or greenhouse can help offset that.
15 lbs to 25lbs from a 100ft bed
4 to 5 years