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I got a variety of seeds from a friend. Most were swiss chard and butter lettuce but this one is different. Also it's the only one that's getting riddled with little holes. What's eating it? What should I do to stop them? I haven't used any pesticides.

More photos.

Underside of leaves

Looking down from top

Close-up in pot

Looking down into base of stalks

Stalks from bottom side, dead leaf on left

  • Some close up photos of the tops or undersides of the leaves or any insects you see would be a great help! Also, a moderator might ask you to split this into several questions.
    – Throsby
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 4:07
  • I added more photos to an imgur album. Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 5:48
  • 1
    Get out at night with a flashlight to see if they are slugs that are fenestrating the leaves. Looks a bit like silverbeet to me but then that's also called swiss chard which you are also growing. Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 6:37
  • It looks rather different from the swiss chard. You can see a chard leaf to the right. I'm looking now and I don't see any slugs. Well, I found a slug in a different grow bag, but not this one. These leaves with all the holes in them are pretty high up, hanging over the container's edge. Would slugs even be able to reach them? Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 7:20
  • Would you mind adding some of the most important pictures from your album directly into the question? That would be great for getting the most help possible. Also, at some point those albums can become inaccessible, and future visitors won't be able to see them. Thanks! Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 21:27

2 Answers 2


This is not swiss chard. This is Tatsoi https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tatsoi

The chard seed looks completely different than the brassica family seed of tatsoi. Tatsoi seed would look identical to the butter lettuce seed.

The holes in the plant look like cabbage worms. The picture with the dark poop at the base reinforces my hypothesis. You can pick them off or use Pyrethrin to kill them. But honestly that would be an expensive option. You can just wash them or cut it away. The holes don't look good but the plant is fine to eat.

I personally like to use the leaves like spinach. I chop the stem up and add them to a stir fry at the same time i would celery for a nice crunchy bite.

  • Dang, never heard of Tatsoi until now, but I have to agree, it's not Swiss Chard. Good call!
    – Brenn
    Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 5:03
  • It's getting popular in the farmer's markets. Very similar in taste to Bok choy or actually more like baby bok choy. Its wonderful but like all leafy brassica's it's susceptible to cabbage worms and flea beetles in the hotter months. A farmer will use row cover to inhibit these pests because aesthetics are important part of selling their product. But as long as your ok with how it looks it is completely fine to eat. I cut the poop away though cause washing it sometimes just disperses it and spreads it all over the plant, which it isn't going to kill you, but it's kind of disgusting.
    – Huckster
    Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 20:14
  • Thank you. It definitely is tatsoi. And you're probably right about the cabbage worms given the droppings. I've never seen the worms themselves though. I wonder when they come out? Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 0:50

It is a Swiss chard.

Just it had too much stress (cold?) so too many gems are awakes quickly, and they started to produce leaves. I would possibly expect also that the chard will start the second-year cycle, so start to flowering.

Sometime it just happen. I don't know why, but Swiss chards are particular prone to this (other vegetables just die or remain smaller).

Consider also that Swiss chard is the same specie as beets (and other vegetables), so seeds can contaminate (or better: they could hybrid with other brothers). I think most seed producers have much more beets than Swiss chard.

  • So this chard decided to start flowering early? I've never seen photos of flowering chard. The center does look pretty flower-like. Btw, I've added a few more photos from earlier in it's life to show it has always been this way, and it has always been eaten by an unknown pest that seems to target nothing else. Though now the bite marks are spreading to other plants that are touching it. What do you think is eating it though? Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 21:09
  • @NickRetallack: I don't know. it seems they were eaten by my chickens (or birds), or damaged by hail. But these (and other explanations) are difficult to confirm: why only one plant is preferred over the other plants? Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 9:05

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