Leaf lettuce is one of my all-time favorite vegetables to grow in my garden. I am a salad lover, so when I have fresh leaf lettuce for my salads it makes my heart flutter. When we started our garden many years ago, lettuce was the first thing we planted because I realized I could not eat store bought lettuce. So whether you are in the same situation or just want to have fresh lettuce at your finger tips, here is the secret to harvesting lettuce all summer long.
One of the biggest misconceptions for most first-time gardeners, is the idea that once leaf lettuce is picked, that’s it! But, I’ve learned the secret to harvesting lettuce all summer long and so can you!
The Secret to Harvesting Lettuce All Summer Long
Most beginner gardeners pull up the lettuce as they harvest it, root and all. But if you think about it there are a lot of vegetables that follow that strategy. Potatoes, carrots, and the list goes on and on.
Picking lettuce this way, definitely stops continuous growth of the lettuce but with the “cut and come again” method you can extend the growing season and have lettuce all summer long. Leaf lettuce can be cut anytime the leaves are large enough and before the plant starts seeding out.
Once the leaves are big enough (3-4 inches) you can start harvesting the lettuce. I usually use scissors to cut the lettuce. You can cut one leaf at a time or grab a bunch and cut them all at once. I’ve learned that scissors are the hot ticket to cutting lettuce, instead of trying to do it with your hands. Inevitably the root will come up when you try to do it by hand and there goes the “come again” part of this tutorial.
You should cut the lettuce about 1 inch from the crown of the plant. If you plant multiple rows of lettuce in your garden, like we do, it allows for harvesting at different times. Our plants were planted at varying times allowing for a revolving harvest.
If you have a greenhouse or live in a climate that warrants fall lettuce you could potentially have lettuce all year long using the “cut and come again” method.
How to Store Lettuce after Harvesting
I usually rinse my lettuce after clipping and let it dry on a paper towel. Once the lettuce is dry I just roll the lettuce up in a dry paper towel and store the lettuce in a plastic bag in the fridge. I have found water is the enemy of lettuce and even after drying the lettuce there is still some moisture in the lettuce. Rolling the lettuce in a dry paper towel keeps the moisture off the lettuce, making it last longer.
Lettuce that is grown and harvested on your homestead definitely will last longer than store bought lettuce! Lettuce can be stored for 1-2 weeks if refrigerated.
Chickens require clean drinking water and there are many choices for delivering water to them. Other things to consider are frozen water dishes in the winter and what works best for your setup. This Ultimate Guide to Chicken Waterers will explain the different options and the pros and cons of each.
Ultimate Guide to Chicken Waterers – How Much Water Do Chickens Need? Chickens need constant access to fresh, clean water as well as Feed. A water supply should be available to chickens and not limited. Chickens will not lay well or grow as fast if their source of water is restricted.
Each full-grown hen will average about a pint of water a day and this can vary widely, especially depending on the temperature.
If the water is too warm or dirty it can cause the chickens to not drink. This can be problematic depending on the type of feeder you choose. So, I have detailed the different types of feeders in the next section.
Types of Waterers There are many waterers and systems to provide clean water to your flock. Some of these systems are even automatic.
Open bowls are one of the simplest waterers and they can work just fine but many times the chickens step in them and knock them over, and the water gets dirty immediately. I don’t know about you but I have to many things on my plate to change water out every time a hen turns over the water. I’m pretty sure my chickens would thirst to death.
Another simple waterer is the round galvanized waterer with a trough around the bottom for the chickens to drink. This type of waterer also has a plastic option (Chicken Drinker).
You fill the waterer from the top and as the water diminishes gravity constantly fills the trough. This is usually situated on the ground, which is one of the major flaws of this waterer because the chicken’s have a tendency to poop on it and there goes your clean water. Hanging the waterer or sitting it up off the groud works best. This keeps the chickens from contaminating the water or getting shavings in the trough.
Our waterer of choice is a nipple system. We bought a 2 Gallon Chicken Watering Bucket & Lid w/ 4 Nipples which, already has the nipples installed. It is a clean, gravity-fed system that works really well for our coop.
You can also make one yourself. You can attach these nipples to the bottom of five-gallon bucket for a homemade waterer. One con to this type of waterer is the tendency for the nipples to clog so these Automatic Poultry Water Drinking Cups would work similarly, without the clogging . Minerals in the water can cause the nipples to clog, thus creating the need to check the nipples regularly.
The other hurdle with this waterer is you have to train the chickens to use it. This was not a big deal for our hens. I introduced the chickens to the nipples by taking each one to the waterer and showing them how it worked. The dominate chicken immediately went back and used the waterer and the others followed. I really appreciate the cleanliness and ease of use with this type of system!
Depending on where you live you might also need to consider some type of de-icer product to keep your water from freezing in the winter. We usually do not have temperatures that dip that low but on occasion we do have a string of cold nights and something like this Chicken Waterer Deicer works well to keep the water thawed.
Now take this Ultimate Guide to Chicken Waterers and go make those hens happy! Happy hens = producing hens!