As a substitute for in-person programming, we’re offering a series of posts on starting a vegetable garden. This science-based information comes from the Seed to Supper program, developed by the Oregon Food Bank.
Along Oregon's North Coast, lettuce and chard can be grown almost year round, plant in late summer or early fall, or in the early spring. These vegetables can be planted from seed or as transplants. Lettuce makes a good companion plant for carrots, radish, celery, and cucumber. Chard is a good companion for plants in the brassica (cabbage) family.
"Suitable companions provide benefits such as nitrogen fixation, production of invigorating exudates, repelling or trapping of insect and other pests, and weed suppression, among other benefits," says Leonard Githinji, Ph.D., Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, Sustainable and Urban Agriculture, Virginia State University.
Of medium height, chard has a 12" x 12" footprint. It can handle some shade. Plan on harvesting chard within 50 - 60 days of harvest. Chard is edible at any size - you can eat chard thinnings as “baby chard.” When mature, chard is a “cut-and-come-again” crop: Harvest the outer leaves, and more will grow!
Chard stores two to three days in a bag in the fridge. Chard greens cook faster than stems, so chop the stems and braise in a bit of liquid, then add the greens.
Lettuce is a short plant that comes in many varieties. It can be transplanted but is easily grown from seed; in either case, mature plants need a 6" x 6" footprint. Depending on the variety, lettuce matures within 65 - 80 days of planting. Some shade is okay. Lettuce is great for succession planting - plant a row every week or two, and you'll have lettuce all summer long.
Like chard, "leaf” lettuce (easier to grow than head lettuce) is ready for harvest at any size, and it's an excellent cut-and-come-again crop. Head lettuce is ready when it forms a tight, compact head
clip head at soil level. Lettuce will “bolt” in hot weather, growing tall from the middle. Bolted lettuce is edible, but it tastes bitter
Store lettuce for two to three weeks in a bag in the fridge.
Click here for a Food Hero pasta recipe that features chard.