Easy methods to harvest every kind of lettuce

Lettuce is one of those cool weather plants that you can collect leaves from or harvest whole heads from. You can even harvest lettuce as a microgreen! With all of the varieties out there, it is easy for a gardener to get confused. We give you the ultimate guide to harvesting lettuce and tips on how to properly store your lettuce crop. To learn how to grow lettuce, check out our in-depth article with loads of gardening tips on how to grow green lettuce!

Planting your own lettuce is a fun way to start or end the season. They can be grown directly in the ground, in raised beds or in small spaces such as container gardens. To extend your season, consider providing shade cover as your salad grows, which can reduce exposure to heat and delay screwing.

Remember that your tools are clean and disinfected as you harvest. Scissors, secateurs, small knife, or grass shears can be used to collect your lettuce, as well as a basket or container to hold your harvest. When ready to store, have paper towels and a plastic bag on hand.

Now let's explore some types of lettuce such as Microgreens, Cos, Looseleaf, Crisphead, Butterhead, and French lettuce.

When should I harvest lettuce?

If you know how to harvest lettuce, you will never be short of salads again. Source: SliceOfChic

The sachets that contain your lettuce seeds provide an indication of when to start harvesting. The recommended dates on your lettuce seeds should be used as guidelines in conjunction with observation. Young baby salads can be harvested at the end of the first month of planting. These baby salads are sweet, nutritious, and tender. They develop after the micro-green stage and are only a few centimeters in size.

Leaf lettuce and compact heads of lettuce will begin to ripen 6-10 weeks after sowing in your garden. Harvest lettuce when it is about four inches tall. The outer leaves on compact heads can be collected during the growing season before the whole head is harvested. These individual outer leaves can be collected when they are 4 inches tall. When the entire plant is 6 inches, it is ready to be cut-and-re-harvested every two weeks. If you leave the crown of lettuce intact with this method, there is a chance the plants will continue to grow for an additional harvest of lettuce. Make sure you provide plenty of water for successful regrowth!

If you're growing lettuce varieties like romaine lettuce, crisphead, or butterhead, look for leaves that are 8 inches (8 cm) in size. Squeeze your head to check firmness. The leaves should be compact and plump.

Many types of lettuce prefer cool weather and do not do well in hot weather. When the daytime temperatures reach over 80 degrees, the lettuce begins to screw and a flower stalk is formed. In this case, you should start harvesting your lettuce right away. The leaves can become bitter in taste, but a few bitter leaves can be hidden in a larger salad. Or you can have the lettuce sown and re-sown in your garden.

When growing lettuce, the best time of day to harvest lettuce is cool and early morning. The leaves turn out fresh and crispy when the weather is cool! When your lettuce is harvested later in the day, the sun exposure can make it soft and withered. Lettuce grows best when the temperatures are cooler and is less prone to pinching.

Harvest lettuce by type

There are many types of lettuce you might grow in the garden, such as the black-seeded Simpson, prized for its green loose leaves, or lettuce like romaine lettuce, which will add some crispness and texture to your salad. Some of these strains do well for strategic foliage pruning or harvesting the plant above the canopy and they will continue to grow. Another way to harvest lettuce is to remove entire plants by digging them out of the ground.

Salad microgreens

Harvesting microgreens is super easy! They are ready 10-15 days after planting the seeds, when the first real leaves have opened. If you measure by height, you will harvest the microgreens when they are 2-3 inches tall. It's fun to explore the flavor profiles of the microgreens at different heights. Use scissors or grass shears and cut the entire plant ½ inch above the soil line. We have loads of other cool gardening tips on growing microgreens, including lettuce microgreens if you need some inspiration!

Cos salad

Cos or romaine lettuce has a desired crispness or crispness factor for its leaves. During development, the outer leaves of the lettuce plant can be harvested. You can cut the leaves 1-2 inches off the ground. By harvesting these young green leaves, the lettuce has more time to mature in order to harvest whole plants.

Romaine lettuce can take 55-70 days to grow from seeds before it is ripe. Check the salad yourself to make sure it's ripe. Romaine is prepared for harvest when the lettuce leaves are 6-8 inches tall, the ribs of the lettuce are firm and juicy, and the leaves have formed a tightly compacted head. Squeeze the head of lettuce to check firmness. Young lettuce becomes soft and overripe lettuce becomes hard. Cut 1 inch above the ground to harvest and save the crown for a second harvest. When the life in the garden comes to an end, you can dig up the entire plant to harvest the head of lettuce.

Loose leaf salad

Lower leaves for harvestThe lower leaves of this lettuce can be harvested while the rest are growing. Source: Unconventional Emma

There is a wide harvest window for leaf lettuce varieties. The young baby lettuce leaves can be picked for harvest 25 days after planting, and the plant will reach full maturity in 50-60 days. Be sure to harvest your crop before it is bolted.

Leaf lettuce is great for repeated harvests as you get multiple harvests throughout the season. Once the leaves are 4 inches, you can trim the entire lettuce 1-2 inches above the bottom line. If the crown is left intact, new leaves will sprout from the base and can be harvested again in 10-15 days. For a continuous harvest throughout the season, try multiple and staggered sowing seeds. Reseeding is recommended if you want the fresh taste of the young baby greens.

There is another approach to harvesting: pruning young leaves on the outside of the head for green while the inner leaves grow. You can start harvesting lettuce from these plants when they are 4 inches by clipping them above the soil line.

Crispy salad

Crispy salad or iceberg lettuce is absolutely delicious as a homemade salad. This can be a crop that keeps recurring, but you may not get a full head of lettuce. This green salad is more suitable for a single harvest. The harvest window is around 50-75 days after planting. Iceberg lettuce can be prepared for harvest once the head has developed, the center is firm to the touch, the leaves are firmly compressed, and before the outer leaves turn brown. Harvest before the crispy lettuce opens and the seed stalk begins to form. More importantly, if you notice the seed stalk or lettuce starting to screw, a common problem in hot weather, harvest immediately.

The best way to harvest iceberg lettuce is to dig up the entire plant and then cut off the stem. This lettuce plant has a thick stem and can be difficult to harvest while still in the ground. Please be careful not to damage the head of lettuce if you harvest it while it is in the ground. You can lift the lettuce up and cut the stem right under the leaves.

Butter lettuce

Lettuce is a hearty and tender salad. It is ready for harvest 45 days after sowing, the last harvest at the latest 75 days after sowing. This salad has its best taste before it is fully ripe. Baby lettuce can be harvested early in the season. You can routinely trim the young leaves, use a cut-and-again method, or thin out the garden bed by removing some of the young plants.

You are ready to harvest the whole head of lettuce when it is firm to the touch and the leaves are 8-15 inches. There are a few methods of removing the entire head of lettuce from the garden, such as cutting off the stem below the head of lettuce, or digging up the plant and cutting off the stem. If you harvest and leave the base of the plant or stem, the lettuce can grow back and produce more leafy green.

Stem salad

Stem or celtuce salad is different from the other salads mentioned above because it is valued for its stem. The leaves can be collected throughout the growing season, but the taste can become bitter as they ripen. Celtuce lettuce is ready to harvest when the stem is 1 inch in diameter and 8-14 inches. Cut the stem at the base of the plant just above the soil line. Or you can remove the entire plant by digging it up and cutting off the base and roots. In addition, the leaves must be cut off before storage.

How to store fresh lettuce

Harvested lettuce leavesOnce you've harvested your lettuce leaves, it's easy to store. Source: Whologwhy

First, a few tips on how to properly store lettuce. Fridge storage is key, most people like to put their salad in the vegetable drawer. Avoid placing it in the back of the refrigerator as this could accidentally frost your crops. If the lettuce is placed next to apples, bananas or pears, these fruits can increase the rate of decomposition and your harvest can wither quickly. Finally, you can freshen up wilted lettuce by placing it in an ice bath for 15 minutes before consuming it.

Delicate greens such as microgreens, loose lettuce and cut lettuce leaves wither quickly and are best enjoyed within 3 days of harvest. First, wash off any dirt or debris from these lettuce leaves, then let them dry or pat dry on a tea towel. Store them in the refrigerator in a plastic bag or container, wrapped in some dry paper towels (I like to use brown coffee filters) that will soak up excess moisture and keep the lettuce from getting soaked and rotting. To extend the shelf life of your crop, keep checking and replacing the paper towels when they are saturated.

Lettuce such as Cos, Iceberg and Butterhead can be stored directly in the refrigerator without washing and have a shelf life of 1-2 weeks. First, remove any dirty or damaged sheets. Wrap the head of lettuce in paper towels or tea towels and place in a plastic bag or trash can. Just like with the lettuce leaves, you can extend the shelf life of your salad by replacing the paper towels when they get wet. When ready to eat, you can wash the head of lettuce thoroughly.

In the case of stem lettuce, be sure to remove the leaves from the stem. Wash, dry and store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. They're best fresh, but keep in the refrigerator for up to 1-2 weeks.

frequently asked Questions

Q: Does lettuce grow back after being cut?

A: Not all types of lettuce grow back after being cut, such as B. Crisp salad or stalk salad. Lettuce, romaine lettuce, and loose leaf lettuce are better cut-and-re-harvested.

Q: How often can you harvest lettuce?

A: For cut-and-recurring lettuce varieties, you can get 2-3 harvests in a good season. If you harvest the outer leaves, it can be a continuous harvest!

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