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Swiss Chard is a Champ

November 26th Swiss Chard hanging on

November 26th Swiss Chard hanging on

I have all the Holidays at our house, so I am pretty busy until after New Years at our home. I was thinking the other day about how the past few years between Thanksgiving and Christmas I would find my Swiss Chard gone by this time of year, but this year I decided to transplant it inside for the winter, and it is a Champ!

under cover soon after not working...

Covers are not working as well…

The problem with Swiss Chard in zone 5 is our winters tend to destroy the quality of the leaves after we have a few deep freezes.


time to trim back, dig out of the garden and put in containers for inside

I will keep them covered initially in the early winter garden, and they will come back if we have a warm-up, but once we are in the heart of winter, they tend to disappear especially near Christmas. They need a cold frame which would make them hold on a bit longer. I decided instead this year to take them inside and see if they would produce edible leaves for our winter eating with nothing but natural lighting.

Red Swiss Chard cut  back  before transplant to inside container

Red Swiss Chard cut back outside before dug up

Last year I grew Swiss Chard for my parents from seed in the spring. We all enjoyed our Swiss Chard throughout the summer, but once winter came, I decided to dig up the Swiss Chard plants and place them in containers that would be used indoors for winter greens.

Red Swiss Chard after a few weeks inside starts regrowing

Red Swiss Chard after a few weeks inside and new growth is starting.

Swiss Chard always transplants very well, even with a deep root system! I take off ALL the dead leaves once transplanted and keep it watered. It usually takes about a few weeks, and it starts sending off new young growth at the base. They are a transplanting CHAMP!


Golden Swiss Chard cut back before indoor transplant. Don’t be afraid to trim down!

Swiss Chard will look a bit droopy after transplanting until it is established, but don’t give up it will come back. I give it fish emulsion, and that seems to help with a deep root system. The key is not to let them dry out or forget to keep them trimmed to the base. The plant needs to concentrate on new growth not keep dead leaves alive!

All inside and basking in sunny southern room

All inside and basking in sunny southern room

My parents have a sun-room where about 8 transplanted Swiss Chard plants from our Urban Potager hung out all winter in 2012. Their Swiss Chard did just fine in a sunny room without artificial lights! My parents were able to harvest leaves a few times a week for some fresh greens. In fact, my father placed the Swiss Chard outside the following spring, and they were still going strong late summer 2013.

I don't need to keep the heat on since the sun warms it up

This room is cold, but sun warms it up!

Since the experiment, I did in 2012 was a success I decided to try it again this year, by placing my Swiss Chard in biodegradable planters. On November 29th I transplanted 12 Swiss Chard Plants to containers to be taken inside for the winter.

Just keep them trimmed to the base and they weill regrow

Just keep them trimmed to the base + fertilize after cutting back

I figure if they make it through the winters indoors this year, I will transplant these 12 biodegradable containers into our Urban Potager next spring 2014 and see how they perform. This room is very sunny throughout the winter once the bushes all lose their leaves outside. This room is warmed during the day by the sun, and it seems to be just what these plants need to keep on producing all winter. I have been keeping them trimmed and fertilized, and they are bouncing back inside.

You only need a few Swiss Chard leaves and they keep regrowing pretty quickly...

You only need a few Swiss Chard leaves, and they keep on giving all winter.

I love to make “Swiss Chard Crust Less Quiche” for Saturday breakfast. You don’t need too many leaves for this yummy recipe. Each year I find more edible plants that we can keep going in our zone 5 weather. I also have read that if you want to keep your own seed for Swiss Chard you just plant it back out in the garden and it will go to seed the next year. I have only read this, so this year I will attempt to see if this works! I wonder what my Swiss chard will look like from my own seed if I do succeed!

20 replies »

  1. I didn’t think to bring ours indoors. It’s under the snow now. But I was amazed at how it produced the whole summer and I never ran out of chard. I love chard! To think I couldn’t tolerate it up until this past couple years. I didn’t juice, and I didn’t know how to prepare it. Now I do!

    • I know I have been growing it for a bit and just discovered ( this year) you can dig it up and transplant it ANYWHERE you want and it will regrow back. You may find it comes back in your garden, but since we are having such a cold one it might not. I found the Golden one tolerates the cold a bit better.

      • I found our white variety was the hardiest of the rainbows, it didn’t get attacked by bugs and seemed to tolerate the heat much better. I didn’t have gold though. I’ll try that one this coming year too

      • I just love the colors red and gold:-) The only one that does come back in my space is the Golden French Heirloom Chard.I LOVE color in my potager:-)

  2. We call it ‘silverbeet’ or ‘perpetual spinach’ here – variations of the same plant I think. Luckily it grows pretty much all year round outside – one of natures little powerhouses! It is so interesting to read of your experimental processes and makes me grateful I live in a temperate country! 🙂

    • I know it is such an amazing plant. I just found this out with my experiment at my parents home. I really just dig it up and move it where I want even with a long tap root at times! You just have to baby it for a few weeks. I mostly try to move the ones that have a smaller root, but some times I just have to take what I get! I look forward to some amazing recipes that you develop with Swiss Chard:-)

  3. What a great idea! Now you’ve inspired me again with your plan to bring the chard indoors. I just cut mine back outside where the inner leaves are still alive but i dunno for how long. Maybe I’ll take it into the greenhouse and see if I can hold them over the winter. It should work as well as your sun room. I’ve done it with my peppers for a couple of years so why not greens? Great plan!
    Happy munching!

    • Your greenhouse would be perfect:-)I even transplanted one with a deep root system and it did fine after I lifted it from the garden!I use to grow microgreens in the winter, but it was a lot of work and it really did not give me large enough leaves for a small salad. I got a “mini-me salad”-lol and it tasted fine, but too labor intensive for me:-) I was growing my Swiss Chard + Kale Seedlings this past spring and I thought, “why don’t I just grow these a bit larger for salads”…an aha moment-lol. All I have to do is transplant them outside in the spring and they are a bit larger so my resident ground hog does not EAT them all!

    • I know it is working out well and I am wondering why I NEVER thought to bring them in before!:-) They are growing well in the sunny window and I used some like lettuce in my sandwich the other day.

  4. Very nice! Makes me wish I had a sunny window for some. Are these the Bright Lights mix? Which cultivars do you like better? I have been growing Ruby and Fordhook for the past couple of years and like these the best, but I did see a new one that I have not tried called Peppermint that looks like it could be interesting…

    • Well, I am using an heirloom French Swiss Chard that is known to be hardy, but I am confused at times since it is called by different names, Canary, Golden Stem, Golden etc…lol. I do get mine from High Mowing Seeds, and I found some at Territorial Seeds + Sustainable Seeds. It is golden:-) I just try them and find the one that I like. I just like the Golden Color in my salads mixed with Rhubarb Red or a red one like Ruby and they have different names for those too! I have found over the years that different people call heirlooms different names, so I grow them out and select which ones I like the taste or find hardy / pest resistant. I have found the Golden survives in the frost/cold a bit better. I tried Fordhook(liked it too), but not Bright Lights yet. Peppermint that sounds interesting: -) Please post pictures of this one! I am trying a deep maroon one this year called “MacGregor’s Favorite Beet” an old Scottish Heirloom. I love the history behind the heirlooms + health benefits of red/purple vegetables:-)

      • Hmm I had not heard of High Mowing Seeds. All this sharing of information and sources is dangerous for my pocket book 🙂 The Scottish Heirloom sounds wonderful… I wonder if it will have a different taste or taste like Ruby. I will definitely post photos of the Peppermint!

      • Oh High Mowing Seeds, they are great! Their seed is wonderful and germinates very quickly:-)I found the Scottish Heirloom ( all-red and rich with anthocyanins/phytonutrients for health benefits!) at
        ( organic too), and they are USA organic Farmers. I do believe they taste similar-lol, but I just can’t resist color! I have read that some ( golden/reds) have a bit less bitter taste, just can’t remember where… I am really curious about your peppermint:-)

  5. We’ve got collard greens that are still hanging in there outside–unprotected (except by occasional snowdrifts!) It’s amazing how hardy those plants can be! Enjoy!

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