How to Harvest Every Kind of Lettuce

Lettuce is one of those cool-weather plants from which you may harvest the leaves or the entire head. Even lettuce may be harvested as a mini veggie! With so many kinds, it’s easy for a grower to become disoriented. We provide the definitive guide on harvesting lettuce leaves as well as storage tips for your lettuce crop. Read our in-depth post packed with gardening ideas on growing green lettuce to discover how to grow lettuce!

Planting lettuce is an enjoyable way to begin or end the season. They may be planted in the ground, raised beds, or in compact places like as container gardens. Consider placing a shade cloth while your lettuce is growing to decrease your exposure to heat and to slow down the overshoot.

Remember to keep your harvesting tools clean and disinfected. To select your lettuce, use scissors, garden shears, a tiny knife, or grass shears, as well as a basket or container to preserve your crop. When it’s time to put things away, make sure you have paper towels and a plastic storage bag on available.

Let’s look at several lettuce varieties, including microgreens, romaine lettuce, loose-leaf lettuce, head lettuce, butter lettuce, and stem lettuce.

When should I pick the lettuce?

The packs of lettuce seeds will include an estimate of when you may begin harvesting. In addition to observation, the specified dates on your lettuce seeds should be utilized as guidance. At the end of the first month following planting, lettuce seedlings can be collected. These fragile baby lettuce shoots are adorable, healthy, and delicious. They emerge following the microgreen stage and are barely a few inches long.

Corn salad and compact heads of lettuce begin to mature 6-10 weeks after seeding in your yard. Harvest leaf lettuce when it reaches around 10 cm in height. During the growing season, the outer leaves of compact heads can be removed before the entire head is taken. When these individual outer leaves reach 10 cm in length, they are ready to harvest. When the entire plant reaches 15 cm in height, it may be cut off and collected every two weeks. By keeping the lettuce crowns intact in this way, there is a potential that the plants may grow for another lettuce crop. Water thoroughly to ensure optimal regeneration!

Look for 8-inch leaves when growing lettuces like romaine, crisp, or butter lettuce. Check the stiffness of the head by squeezing it; the leaves should be compact and lush.

Many lettuces require chilly temperatures and do not thrive in hot weather. When the temperature rises over 80 degrees during the day, the lettuce begins to cluster and a flower stalk forms. When this happens, you should pick your lettuce as soon as possible. The leaves may get bitter, but they may be covered in a bigger salad. You may also let the lettuce grow and self-seed in your garden.

While growing lettuce, the optimum time to pick is in the early morning when it is chilly. When the temperature is chilly, the leaves will be fresh and crisp! If you harvest your lettuce later in the day, it may be mushy and wilted from sun exposure. Lettuce thrives in lower temperatures and is less prone to going to seed.

Lettuce harvesting by species

There are various lettuce kinds you may produce, such as Simpson’s with black seeds, which is popular for its loose green leaves, or head lettuce like romaine to add crunch and texture to your salad. Some of these kinds will continue to grow if you strategically trim the leaves or harvest the plant above the crown. Pulling full plants from the ground is another technique of collecting lettuce.

  • Microgreen lettuce

Microgreens are really simple to harvest! When the first true leaves develop 10 to 15 days after sowing the seeds, they are ripe. Harvest the microgreens when they are 2 to 3 inches tall if you estimate their height. It’s great to experiment with the flavor characteristics of microgreens at various heights. Cut the entire plant 12 inch above the soil line with scissors. If you need more ideas, check out our garden advice for growing microgreens, including lettuce microgreens!

  • Cos lettuce

The leaves of Romaine or Cos lettuce have a nice crunch or crispness to them. The outer leaves of the lettuce plant can be picked as the plant grows. The leaves can be clipped 1 to 2 inches above the ground. Harvesting the lettuce’s early green leaves gives it more time to grow and allows you to harvest full plants.

Romaine lettuce can take 55 to 70 days from seed to maturity. Examine the lettuce to see when it is mature. When the lettuce leaves are 6 to 8 inches high, the ribs are solid and juicy, and the leaves have formed a thick head, romaine is ready to harvest. Squeeze the lettuce head to ensure it is firm. Young head lettuce is soft, whereas overripe head lettuce is tough. Cut off the head an inch above the ground to harvest, saving the crown for a second harvest. When the garden is nearing the end of its life, pull up the entire plant to harvest the head of lettuce.

  • Lettuce, loose leaf

Leaf lettuce types have a broad harvest window. Young lettuce leaves may be picked 25 days after sowing, and the plant matures in 50-60 days. Make sure you harvest before the price skyrockets.

Because there are multiple harvests over the season, open leaf lettuce is perfect for recurrent harvests. When the lettuce leaves are 5 inches tall, cut the lettuce 1 to 2 inches above the soil line. If the crown is left intact, new leaves will sprout from the base in 10 to 15 days and be ready for harvesting. Sow multiple times and spread out the seedings to harvest throughout the season. If you like the fresh flavor of young shoots, re-seeding is suggested.

Another method of harvesting involves removing the young leaves from the exterior of the head for foliage while leaving the interior leaves to mature. When the plants reach 4 inches tall, cut them off above the soil level and start picking lettuce.

  • Lettuce that is crisp

As a homegrown lettuce, crisphead or iceberg lettuce is wonderful. Although it may be harvested in portions, you may not receive a complete head of lettuce. This green lettuce should only be harvested once. Harvesting occurs between 50 and 75 days after planting. Harvest iceberg lettuce as soon as the head forms, the core is firm, and the leaves are firmly compacted, and before the outside leaves turn brown. Harvest before the crisp lettuce opens and the seed stem develops. Most importantly, if you detect that the seed stem or lettuce is starting to shoot through, which is a typical problem in hot weather, harvest quickly.

Iceberg lettuce is best harvested by digging up the entire plant and then cutting off the stem. Iceberg lettuce has a thick stem that makes it tough to pick while it is still growing. If you opt to pick the lettuce while it is still in the ground, be cautious not to injure the head. Lift the lettuce and cut the stem right beneath the leaves.

  • Lettuce head

Butterhead lettuce is a delicate and flavorful vegetable. It can be harvested as soon as 45 days after seeding and must be harvested no later than 75 days after sowing. This lettuce tastes finest before it is completely mature. Early in the season, young butterhead lettuce can be collected. You may thin out the garden bed by removing some of the young plants or clipping the young leaves on a regular basis.

When the lettuce starts to feel solid and the leaves are 8 to 15 inches long, it’s time to harvest the complete head. Cutting off the stem under the head of lettuce or digging the plant out and cutting off the stem are two techniques for removing the entire head of lettuce from the garden. If you pick the lettuce but leave the base of the plant or stem, it may come back and produce new green leaves.

  • Lettuce stalk

Stem lettuce, sometimes known as celery, differs from the other lettuces described above in that the stem is prized. The leaves may be collected throughout the growing season, although as they mature, their flavor may turn harsh. When the stem reaches 1 inch in diameter and 8 to 14 inches long, Celtic lettuce is ready to harvest. Cut the stem near the plant’s base, slightly above the soil line. You may also dig up the plant and cut off the base and roots to eradicate it completely. Before storage, the leaves should also be removed.

  • Fresh lettuce storage

First, some advice on how to properly store lettuce. Placement in the refrigerator is critical; most people keep their lettuce in the vegetable drawer. Place it in the back of the fridge to avoid accidently freezing your crop. If lettuce is planted near apples, bananas, or pears, the rotation rate increases and your crop wilts soon. Finally, before eating wilted lettuce, immerse it in an ice bath for 15 minutes.

Microgreens, leaf lettuce, and cut lettuce wilt fast and should be consumed within three days of harvest. Remove any dirt from these veggies before drying them with a cloth or by dabbing them dry. Refrigerate the lettuce in a plastic bag or container covered in dry paper towels (I use brown coffee filters), which absorb excess moisture and keep the lettuce from becoming soggy and decaying. Keep monitoring and replacing paper towels as they grow moist to increase the shelf life of your crop.

Head lettuces, such as cos lettuce, iceberg lettuce, and butterhead lettuce, may be stored in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks without being cleaned. Remove any filthy or damaged leaves first. Place the lettuce head in a plastic bag or container after wrapping it in paper towels or tea towels. Similarly to lettuce leaves, you may increase the shelf life of your lettuce by replacing damp paper towels. When you’re ready to eat, thoroughly wash the head of lettuce.

Remove the leaves off the stem of stem lettuce. Wash and dry them before storing them in a plastic bag in the fridge. They are best served fresh, but can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1-2 weeks.

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