How to Harvest Lettuce: Easy Tips!

I have 2 favorite lettuces that we grow in our garden. One is butterhead or Boston (I sometimes call it buttercrunch), and the other is red leaf lettuce. We also plant loose-leaf lettuce. We get our lettuce in the ground earlier than we probably should, being a cold-winter area, but we cover with garden cloth and for a few years now, we’ve lucked out.

Our first round of lettuce is ready for harvesting and I can’t wait to make some beautiful, colorful salads for guests!

Several comments have come through:

Dear Sandy, Since this is the first time gardening for us. When do you pick your lettuce? Ours is getting lots and lots of leaves…do you pick the outer ones and they keep growing in the center?

How to harvest
Harvesting lettuce is easy. With loose-leaf (and romaine), you pick the outer leaves as you need them. Or you can pull up the whole plant. I actually use this method for any type of lettuce, if I’m making a small salad. But you don’t want the lettuce to go to “seed,” so particularly for head lettuces, you’ll want to pull up the entire plant once it’s matured.

Supplies for harvesting
Large towel
Salad spinner
Ziploc bags

Spin and save
I usually get my kitchen counter cleaned off and ready for cleaning. Take the leaves off and place in the salad spinner. Spin and then lay the leaves out flat on a large towel.

Fold one side over to get the water out; press down to get to remove the water.

Then place the leaves in a Ziploc bag. Push down on the bags to seal and to make the bags airtight.

TIP: The more airtight the bags of lettuce are, the longer the lettuce will last in your fridge.

One thing I love to do is set up an assembly line, harvest the lettuce, seal and store in the fridge – and have a few bags extra to give away to friends who stop by!

If your lettuce is maturing at a greater rate than you can eat it, take your friends out to the garden with you with a brown paper bag and a knife and send them home with a fresh head of lettuce.

Freshly cut from the garden – it’s a treat that they won’t find anywhere else but in a garden!

And then it turns into a beautiful salad like this!

Do you grow lettuce? What’s your favorite kind?

Happy Weekend Friends! Head to Melissa’s to see what her readers are inspired by this week … The Inspired Room.

(I’m partnering/posting over at SC Johnson again today. Would you head over and leave me a comment? How do you Shop, Share and Save when you buy your food? Thank you!)

23 comments on “How to Harvest Lettuce: Easy Tips!”

  1. This year we cleaned out the koi fountain and I bailed all the fish waste onto the garden area before planting. I planted everything we eat vegetable wise. I now have beautiful green beans, lettuce and the zucchini and cucumbers are beautiful! I cook everything my husband and I eat and now grow the veggies. I want the two of us to live a long and wonderful life together and fresh grown fruits and vegetables go along with that plan. I would tell anyone “grow a garden”! It not only is stress relief its truly beautiful to see what you have sown….yielding things far better for your body than anything you find in the grocery store!

  2. I grew black seed lettuce this year in full sun and yielded a threesome of beautiful lettuce! It is totally worth growing and easy as can be!

  3. Pingback: First Garden Lettuce of the Year & Black Bean Taco Salad — Reluctant Entertainer

  4. Great post! Thank you for sending me that DM on Twitter. I am growing lettuce for the first time this year and wasn’t entirely sure how to harvest it. I absolutely LOVE the idea of having friends picking out some lettuce themselves. Going to have to try that as well.

  5. I chuckle at such innocense.
    Once upon a time I grew curly leafed lettuce here in Melbourne, South Eastern Australia, where we don’t have severe Winters. (no, we have severe Summers!)
    Lettuce, yes, I planted the curly green lettuce as ornamental edges to the gardens along the fine gravel driveway and paths.
    I bought exotic seeds of multi coloured red and yellow spotted Italian lettuce varieties and also had blue and red cabbages amongst the iris and salvias. Much to the horror of my sisiter in law, that I should dare to plant vegetables amongst my flowers.
    As a gardening illustrator and printmaker, I’m afraid I don’t differentiate, if I find an attractive “weed” growing by the railway line I’ll try to transplant some for home. (that’s how I discovered Chicory flowers)
    Any way, back to lettuce, I often carelessly let plants go to seed so I can see their flowers, seeds and pods, not just the orthodox harvest.
    So I find myself generously endowed with many seeds that I liberally sprinkle back onto the garden.
    But I digress, back to the lettuce, I’ve found my gravel driveway and paths make the best seed raising mix and I’m left to lifting and transplanting many varieties of different lettuce (and opium poppies) from the gravel where they decide to sprout, from Autumn through to late Spring.
    I use them to fill gaps along the fronts of beds, their frilly bright greens add a luxuriance that in turn makes good mulch.
    As, I don’t eat these borders, for my two Jack Russells are sure to have peed on them.
    So as you can see I don’t need to “molly-coddle” them at all and simply pick the outer leaves as needed, there are always more to replace them and new ones sprouting in the gravel by late Autumn.
    But avoid transplanting them more than once as it can make them bolt to seed.
    If you can sow them direct you’ll get the best results.
    Cheers Cam.

  6. I don’t grow it but I love eating it.

    sandy toe
    .-= Sandy Toes´s last blog ..Not your normal eggs and bacon =-.

  7. I really needed this post. I am a lame gardener…I try, and keep trying…We are planting lettuce – even though it is 50 degrees and nothing should be outside.
    .-= Holly L´s last blog ..Tickled Pink No. 6 with a Hop =-.

  8. I woud love to give lettuce a try! I ate a salad for lunch today made with a bagged “Spring Mix” and it amost had a metallic taste to it??? My wariness in eating food that originated from some mysterious place is growing by leaps and bounds on a daily basis. Your lettuce looks so tasty and fresh…mmmm.
    .-= Patti Smith´s last blog ..Five Question Friday =-.

  9. Love lettuce! We usually grow loose leaf like yours-it’s so yummy. We also grow spinach, nothing like fresh spinach salad-it’s been so cold here we just planted our seed, now we’re waiting for the sprouts!
    .-= Gina´s last blog ..Dizzying Perspective =-.

  10. I grow the loose leaf mixed greens. I like to pick some for baby lettuce salads and some later on. Now you have me looking into “buttercrunch”. Yours looks gorgeous.
    .-= Tickled Red´s last blog ..Potatoes are my comfort. =-.

  11. Thanks for the great tip. So practical. I just had a friend bring me some lettuce from her garden. Yummy! And I planted head lettuce so I’ll use these tips.
    .-= Yvonne´s last blog ..Chive Blossom Vinegar Tutorial =-.

  12. Hi, Sandy!

    I’m back after two months without a computer. Whew!

    Question: for the wonderful salad you pictured of raspberries and oranges and greens…what type of dressing complements that? I want to make that salad and am wondering about the dressing part.

    .-= Elizabeth´s last blog ..My FAVORITE Chocolate Chip Cookies =-.

  13. Hi Sandy, Everything looks so yummy! (like always) I did linked up for Mother’s Day but I was having a problem with it. I am # 17.
    Thanks for checking in :-)
    .-= Christi Williams´s last blog ..Friday Follow & New Friend Friday #2 – Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada =-.

  14. Now I know how to do it right…for years It has been a pain to harvet the lettuce I have grown…thanks for the tips.
    Happy Day
    .-= teresa´s last blog ..Mirror Dresser- for $35 =-.

  15. If you’re drying larger quantities of greens or if you need them extra dry (to make spring rolls and such), you can place them in an inside-out pillow case, tie it on the end, and toss it in the spin cycle.

  16. Thanks Sandy…our lettuce is wonderful!
    .-= Connie´s last blog ..How Does Your Garden Grow?? =-.

  17. I am growing buttercrunch lettuce for the first time this year….never done lettuce before!!
    I’m excited.

  18. I love growing lettuce and grow several varieties because I love the variety in my salads. I usually plant the darker leaf varieties because they have more health benefits.

    I was just looking outside and hoping that with the nice weather we’ve been having that our neighbor will come and till my garden spot so I can plant!!

  19. Thanks for this post–this is my first year growing lettuce, and I need all the tips and reassurance I can get!

    I will share something I discovered a few days ago. I picked some lettuce in the morning, and left it in a bowl until supper. By then it was all wilty and silky feeling (not appetizing!). So I put some water in the bowl and let it sit over night, and the next morning it was nice and crisp again!

  20. I too just harvested our first lettuce of the season. I grow loose leaf lettuces and blends because it’s easy to harvest and that means my family will be more into helping me. Ha!

    ~Kelli @ Smidgens
    .-= Kelli´s last blog ..Pants Refashion Slash Modification =-.

  21. I am growing my first lettuce this year! I get positively giddy every night when I go out and pick off a few leaves for a small salad or to top my sandwich with. I am so proud my first every veggies were a success!!
    .-= Jess´s last blog ..Think Like a Tree =-.

  22. Growing our first lettuce this year. My Mother grew it when I was little, she’s a great gardener!
    .-= Laryssa @ Heaven In The Home´s last blog ..Handcrafted Natural Soap Giveaway! =-.

  23. I have never, ever grown a head of lettuce. We had HUGE gardens growing up, but never planted lettuce. You make it look like it’s worth it, though!
    .-= Richella´s last blog ..A question =-.

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