(Beta vulgaris) Chard is actually the same species as beets, but these varieties are grown for leaves rather than roots. The plants put all their energy into making large, tender leaves, with succulent mid-ribs massive enough to be a vegetable in their own right. The range of colors comes as a spectacular bonus! Chard is usually direct seeded into the garden as early as a couple of weeks before the last frost. Alternatively, you can start them indoors 4-6 weeks before last frost and transplant out around time of last frost. Ideal germination temperature is 75-85F; however, they will germinate in a very wide range of soil temperatures. Sow seeds 1/2 to 1 inch deep. Space plants 6-12 inches apart. It can be sown anytime until mid-summer, since the plants tolerate both heat and moderate cold of late fall. It can even grow into the winter in milder climates. Swiss chard prefers rich soil, full sun and ample moisture.