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Overwintering Swiss chard

January 2, 2008

Here in northern Virginia, it's snowed only once this season, and my row of Swiss chard is still alive. I've had thoughts of plowing it under, but the leaves are still usable, and I don't want to kill it just yet.

Has anyone had experience growing chard over the winter? What will happen if it survives and I leave it there through the spring? Will the plants thrive again in summer, or will they be shadows of their former (gigantic) selves?

Comments (7)

  • warrenl

    Swiss Chard is just another name for beet greens, and beets are biennials. In spring the roots will send up another flush of leaves and flower stalks. Pinch the buds off to prevent blooming, unless you want to save seed. If you keep on top of it, you may get greens all year long, and because the plant didn't fulfill its purpose and reproduce, it may survive another winter.

    Note that beets that do not have very good edible roots are oftem sold as swiss chard, so it may be better in to future to grow regular beets, and get a crop of beet roots in addition to the greens.

  • dancinglemons


    I grow swiss chard because I do not like beet greens. My swiss chard was planted in my EarthBox in September and it is still growing. It grows slower in December and January but I am expecting a nice big crop of chard greens in March and April. Will plant a much larger amount of chard in 2008. The taste of home grown is MUCH better than what is in the stores around here. In NoVA you should just leave the chard where it grows and you should be OK. Depending on where you are in NoVA you could be in a warmer 'microclimate'. Development and CO2 emmissions have warmed up parts of NoVA so the zone is now warmer than say Fredricksburg. I am in Central Virginia and my chard does not have anything keeping it alive.


  • bcomplx

    I'm in the mountains near Floyd, and my chard is alive, too. I throw a blanket over it when temps are expected to go below 25. I don't expect much from it beyond a fast flush of leaves in March. After that it will bolt because it has been exposed to prolonged chilling. I'll plant more in April, and then another round in August. The fall crop is amazing!

    For overwintering, I think kale, spinach, mache and arugula do best.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Grow Greens in Winter in a Box

  • ole_dawg

    Mine are outside in contains. They got hammered a number of times by low temp. The lowest being 11 *. The leaves froze, but they have continued to come back. I don't eat the large leaves, preferinf the small leaves myself

  • rudydude

    Well I am in Northern California and have my chard under a row cover. They are thriving as are the other greens,Kale and other salad greens. I think with a little protection they will over winter? $15 for the perferated row cover and some left over PVC pipe as a support. I weigted down the fabric with fence posts. It is practicly hurricane proof! Not pretty but effective.

  • robin_maine

    Swiss Chard is just another name for beet greens,
    They are related but they are not the same.

    I harvest Swiss chard most of the winter in unheated greenhouses. They die back briefly but come back to life and can be harvested again by late February. I pull them at the end of the second summer.

  • goudananda

    Here in Austin, TX we get very mild winters usually. If it drops into the teens overnight or we get snow people act like it's the end of the world and worry about water pipes freezing. Swiss chard grows well here, I find that if I plant it in spring it'll keep going all summer and winter. Once the plants are established it'll take our 100F temps of summer without issue as long as it's in good soil and gets ample water. It's nice because I use it in salads or on sandwiches when I can't get lettuce to produce in the heat.

    A few plants I put in last spring and putting out leaves again...it's great. Don't have enough good things to say about it.

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