Swiss Chard (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, and it can be sown anytime until midsummer, since the plants tolerate both heat and moderate cold of late fall, and even grow into the winter in milder climates. Prefers rich soil, full sun and ample moisture.