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, kale and leeks grow well and can be planted in late summer and early fall for winter harvest or in early spring. Both tolerate the cold well. These vegetables can be planted from seed or as transplants. A member of the brassica (cabbage) family, kale makes a good companion planting for celery, beets, chard, and the allium (onion) family, including leeks. In addition to kale, leeks make good companions for carrots, lettuce, and beets.
"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.
Leeks are relatively short. They have a 4" x 4" footprint and can handle some shade. For tender white stems, mound soil around the base when the plants are thick as pencils. Plan on harvesting leeks from August through November, or within 120 days of planting. Harvest when leeks are one to two inches wide. Loosen soil with a garden tool, then gently wiggle the leek loose.
To store leeks, wipe off soil, then trim roots and all but 1”-2” of green leaves. Store for one to three months in a bag in the fridge.
Kale is a medium-high plant that comes in many varieties; leaves can be smooth, bumpy, lacey, green, purple, or silvery. Mature plants need a 12" x 12" footprint. Some shade is okay. Kale can be planted through July; it matures within 60- 70 days of planting.
A cut-and-come-again plant, kale can be harvested year-round. Cut or twist leaves off the outer stems close to the stalk. Kale stores 10-14 days in a bag in the fridge. Strip out tough stem before using. If you're concerned that kale will taste bitter, massage the leaves by scrunching them in your hands for a minute or two, then rinse in running water.
Kale chips make a delicious, nutritious snack. To add variety to this Food Hero recipe, consider adding nutritional yeast, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and a pinch of cayenne to taste.