Lettuce harvested from your own garden taste sweeter and crisper. Unfortunately, some beginners harvest the lettuce incorrectly so that they can only harvest it once. They can actually prolong the harvest if they know the trick of how to harvest lettuce.
General Information about Lettuce
Lettuce is a cool-season crop and one of the gardeners’ favorite vegetables to grow. Most of them love growing lettuce because it is easy to grow. This vegetable also takes only a month or two to mature so that gardeners can harvest it without waiting for too long.
Lettuce comes in several varieties.
It is the most widely cultivated lettuce in the world. As its name suggests, the lettuce leaf has a bunch of loose leaves. It doesn’t have any lettuce heads as other lettuce varieties. In addition, the leaf lettuce is easier to grow than other lettuce varieties. The leaves are mainly used in salads.
This variety of lettuce has a long upright head. The leaves are deep green and crisp. Romaine lettuce is relatively heat tolerant so that beginners don’t need to worry much about bolting lettuce. Most people generally use romaine lettuce for sandwiches and salads.
Crisphead lettuce or iceberg lettuce is very popular in the U.S. It is relatively low on nutritional value and mostly contains water. Crisphead lettuce is very sensitive to heat so that it must be planted at the right time and right environment to avoid bolting.
This variety has a round head with a loose arrangement of leaves. Butterhead lettuce has a tender texture and sweet flavor. It is more heat tolerant compared to lettuce varieties.
Summercrisp is midway between leaf and crisphead lettuce and has well-flavored leaves. This lettuce is heat tolerant and bolt resistant. Therefore, you don’t need to worry that it will bolt when summer is coming. This lettuce is also easy to grow, making it a great choice for beginners
How to Grow Lettuce
Many people think that growing lettuce is not difficult. However, those who never grow it may not be successful in growing it because they don’t plant the vegetable at the right time or don’t take care of it properly. We’ve published similar articles on how to harvest sunflower seeds. It may have a different approach, but it will be fun.
Therefore, before learning how to harvest lettuce continuously, you need to make sure that you grow this vegetable properly.
Since lettuce is a cool season crop, it can only be planted in USDA zones 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9.
The Best Time to Plant Lettuce
You can start planting lettuce in the spring, when the soil temperature is at 40oF or soon after the soil can be worked. If you want to enjoy successive harvest, you need to sow the seeds every 14 days until a month before summer.
For you who want to grow head lettuce, it is better to start the seeds indoors a month before the last frost spring date. Head lettuce takes more time to mature so that starting early prevents it from bolting. Meanwhile, some regions allow you to plant lettuce in the fall.
Where to Plant it
It is essential to grow lettuce in an ideal environment. This vegetable plant loves to grow in a sunny area. However, if you live in a warmer area, it is better to grow it in a partial shade so that it gets the required cooler temperature.
Lettuce loves to grow in loose and well-drained soil that is high in organic matter. In addition, the soil pH must be at least 6.0 because lettuce dislikes acidic soil.
Lettuce needs light frequent watering because this vegetable prefers to grow in moist soil. You also need to fertilize the lettuce plant before sowing the seeds or transplanting the seedlings. After about 3 weeks of transplanting, you need to apply organic fertilizer of slow-release fertilizer.
How to Harvest Lettuce
The best time to harvest lettuce is when the temperature is cool. Once the temperature is warmer, lettuce will taste bitter and some of them go bolting. However, the time of lettuce harvest depends on the varieties.
How to Harvest Romaine Lettuce
You can harvest romaine lettuce when its leaves have formed midribs, overlapped, and elongated to form a tight head. Moreover, the size of this head is between 6 and 8 inches tall.
How to Harvest Leaf lettuce
The best time to harvest leaf lettuce is before the leaves mature because it tastes sweeter at this stage. Therefore, when it is large enough for cooking, about 2 or 3 inches long, you can harvest the leaves.
How to Harvest Butterhead Lettuce
There are two options for harvesting the butterhead lettuce. The first one is when its leaves cup inward forming a loose head. The other is when the leaves form a rosette around 6 to 8 inches wide.
How to Harvest Crisphead Lettuce
The best time to harvest the crisphead lettuce is when the head reaches medium size, between 6 and 8 inches wide. Ready-to-harvest crisphead lettuce is generally round, tight, and firm.
How to Harvest Lettuce so it Keeps Growing
There are 3 ways to harvest lettuce. Two of these methods allow you to continue harvesting the lettuce. The 3 methods are:
Cutting only the outer leaves of lettuce
In this method, the center leaves are left to grow so that the plant keeps growing and you can have prolonged harvest.
Cutting the lettuce plant an inch above the ground
In this method, the lettuce plant still has roots left and is able to grow. As a result, you can have a second harvest of lettuce.
Digging the whole lettuce plant
This method will not enable you to have a second harvest because there is no roots and lettuce parts left to grow.
Tips in Harvesting Lettuce
To have sweet and tasty lettuce, it is recommended to pay attention on the weather forecast. If it says that hot weather will be coming shortly, you had better harvest all your lettuce leaves and store them in the fridge.
Moreover, it is essential for you to check for the lettuce leaves every day so that you won’t let your lettuce leaves get too matured and taste bad. To have crisp lettuce leaves, it is recommended to harvest them in the morning, before they are exposed to sun.
Lettuce is an easy-to-grow vegetable so that it is perfect for beginners. This vegetable also reaches maturity quickly and is perfect for impatient gardeners. To maximize the harvest, you need to perform the right methods of how to harvest lettuce.