It is a big switch, going from fully-grown, mature chard to chard microgreens, and I think the comparison emphasizes strongly the size because the green leaves of full-grown, mature chard are really big (so big you can even use the leaves as a wrapper), while in contrast, chard microgreens are so tiny.
Does that make the chard microgreens inferior? Nope. Chard microgreens may be smaller in size, but they pack just as many nutrients and flavor – if not more – compared to mature, fully-grown chards.
But this is not a competition. Microgreens exist as an alternative, not a replacement. Microgreens are easy and fast to grow, which means if it is past the peak of the chard harvest season, you can rely on microgreens if you need chards on your food.
Species: Beta vulgaris
Subspecies: Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris
Cultivar group: Cicla Group, Flavescens Group
Chard Microgreen Trivia
- If the sign says silverbeet, spinach beet, crab beet, seakale beet, mangold, white beet, perpetual spinach, strawberry spinach, Roman kale, or bright lights, don’t worry since these are all the same item: char
- Believe it or not, chards and beets are closely related.
- The descendant of chards is the sea beet, a wild seashore plant very common along the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts of Europe and North Africa.
Chard Microgreen Buying Guide
Chard microgreens are sold in groceries, supermarkets, farmers markets, and other specialty stores. Ask around for local growers so that you can source your chard microgreens locally.
When buying chard microgreens, buy just enough until the next grocery day. If this is the first time you are buying chard microgreens, try to buy in small quantities first so that you can taste it; should you not like it, you don’t have a lot of chard microgreens to dispose of and you are not being wasteful.
When buying, make sure to inspect it thoroughly. See if the leaves and stems are of good quality. It is ok if one or two are wilted, but if most of the bunch are wilted and do not appear fresh, do not buy it.
If you are buying seeds so that you can grow your own chard microgreens, this will give you an idea of how many seeds you expect to get from a pack.
- 1-ounce pack contains approximately 8,000 seeds
- 4-ounce pack contains approximately 32,000 seeds
- 1-pound pack or bag contains approximately 128,000 seeds
- 5-pound pack or bag contains approximately 640,000 seeds
- 25-pound pack or bag contains approximately 3,200,000 seeds
Chard Microgreen Production & Farming in Texas
Growing chard microgreens is easy. Put soil on your growing tray. Moisten the soil if it feels dry but do not overwater it because if this happens, you need an extra hour just to make sure the excess water has fully drained. The next step is sprinkling the seeds on the growing medium. If you are unsure how many seeds you need, 1.25 ounces of seeds are enough to cover a 10×20 tray without the problem of overcrowding. Lightly mist the seeds using a spray bottle. Cover the tray with a lid and keep it somewhere dark with a room temperature ranging from 60°F to 70°F. Remove the lid and mist them lightly every day. Expect signs of germination in 48 to 72 hours. The next step is exposing them to sunlight. You can use grow light, artificial light, or indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight is not recommended because the microgreens will easily dry.
Chard microgreens are fast-growing microgreens. Presoaking of seeds is between 4 to 10 hours. Use cold water. Germination is between 2 to 5 days. Blackout time is between 4 to 7 days. You can expect to harvest as early as Day 8. Soil is the best medium to grow chad microgreens.
- Buy chard microgreen seeds from a reputable seed seller or distributor.
- Water from the side of the tray to make sure the weight of the water will not squash the microgreens, or maintain water in the water tray.
- Free to sample a few each day starting from day 8. You’ll notice the subtle difference in flavor as the microgreens continue to grow.
- Rotate crop once it is exposed to light to avoid “bending” microgreens.
There are farmers and growers in Texas who grow chard microgreens, ranging from small backyard urban gardening to big commercial operations. There are also initiatives like the Big Tex Urban Farms that help promote the business as well as the attitude of the public towards microgreens. Texas restaurants with microgreens on the menu use and mix different microgreens including chard microgreens.
Microgreens are a fast-growing crop. This means there is very little time for pests to be a problem. If there is a pest `problem, it will probably involve aphids and whiteflies. If the problem requires the use of pesticides, make note of the following:
- Aphids – Kill aphids using neem oil, insecticidal soap, or horticultural oil. You can also use the pesticide malathion, which is the most commonly used organophosphate insecticide in the United States, or rotenone, a selective, non-specific insecticide typically used in home gardens for insect control.
- Whiteflies – Malathion or Pyrethrins are effective against whiteflies.
Because of grow lights and temperature-controlled rooms, it is possible to grow any microgreens anywhere in the world, and that includes chard microgreens. North America is a major microgreens market. The US, Canada, and Mexico are among the top producing countries of microgreens.
Cultivation of chard in the US has grown following the Civil War. Chard is among the greens grown by US farmers today.
Chard microgreens are sold in transparent plastic clamshell packaging or Styrofoam food tray covered with plastic wrap.
Enjoying Chard Microgreens
When you eat a chard microgreen, you will notice that it has a sweet, earthy flavor. But be careful not to eat too many chard microgreens if you have a history of having an allergic reaction to chards. If you have kidney problems like kidney stones or any condition that could get worse because of oxalic acid, then avoid chard microgreens unless your doctor gives you a green light, but make sure to observe your chard microgreen limit. Rhinoconjunctivitis induced by exposure to chard may not be common but it can lead to discomfort and serious health concerns.
If you have to store chard microgreens, make sure to wrap these in damp paper towels before you put these inside a resealable plastic bag or food container. They will last for a week this way. Freezing is not ideal because microgreens simply do not have the structural strength mature, full-grown vegetables have to survive being frozen and thawed. Most of the time, freezing and thawing will turn microgreens into slime, and what is left is unappetizing.
If the chard microgreens you bought came in clamshell packaging, use it to store chard microgreens in the refrigerator. If, for some reason, you need to transfer the chard microgreens to a different container, choose a plastic container with a lid. The least ideal storage is glass because it has the most condensation when in the refrigerator and the condensation contributes to the degradation of the quality of the chard microgreens inside. Avoid putting them near the vent of the refrigerator because if the temperature fluctuates, it will affect the condition of the chard microgreens. Put it on the lower shelf where the temperature is more stable. Remember that different microgreens vary when it comes to how long they keep in the refrigerator.
Chard microgreens are an excellent garnish or topping for different foods – pizzas, or soups, stews, and curries, for example. Mix this with other fresh greens to make a salad. If you are making a sandwich, replace lettuce with chard microgreens. If you are making scrambled eggs, toss a few chard microgreens in there and make it healthier and more flavorful. Chard microgreens are an excellent addition to your microgreen salad, egg salad with avocado sandwich, or tuna and egg salad sandwich. Garnish your carrot risotto or seared scallops, add greens to your chickpea salad sandwich, or your fresh tomato and microgreen soup, crab cakes, or vegetable stir fry.
Chard microgreens are packed with vitamins A, vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, and protein. Chard microgreens have high levels of antioxidants that help lower the risk of chronic diseases like cancer. It also helps lower blood pressure and helps manage diabetes because it helps regulate blood sugar levels. Eating chard microgreens can also help improve digestive health. Chard also helps boost the immune system, reduce fever and reduce inflammation. Chard also helps to detoxify the body and improve brain health and function.