In winter, it is hard to find purchased greens that maintain freshness very long and are tasty.
Swiss chard has a mild flavor and is easy to grow indoors, especially if started in late fall for a winter crop. Related to beets, Swiss chard is a member of Amaranthaceae that originated in the Mediterranean.
Swiss chard is a biennial. It is grown as greens for a salad, a sautéed side dish or added to soup like spinach. In this region, Swiss chard is planted as an annual outdoors. In that it is a biennial, helps to achieve 3 or more cuttings without the plant bolting or forming seed.
Like spinach, Swiss chard is a cole crop that may be harvested outdoors in May in this region. As a late crop, it continues to grow until a killing frost without a cover.
Indoors under florescent light, Swiss chard is found to be most favorable as a winter crop, especially if germinated by late fall. Florescent lights are about a foot above the leaves. Light extends beyond all sides of the tray to ensure adequate light in winter with less indirect light.
Experience here, is that Swiss chard better adapts to container growth under light than spinach, kale or mustard. This tray has about a six-inch depth of soil. The three- foot tray provides a harvest for two people as a side dish. Swiss chard may be harvested as soon as leaves are mature. Young leaves are more tender. Grown under light, Swiss chard tends to be more tender than outdoors.
Called “diet food,” Swiss chard supplies Vitamin A, K and C, magnesium, manganese, iron and potassium, especially raw in a salad. It’s low on carbohydrates and fats.
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