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.