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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!