How nice is it to plant something once and get multiple harvests? While this is what we normally do for long season crops like tomatoes/peppers/etc, lettuces take much less time to mature and with a few tricks, can provide more than just one salad for dinner. Learn how to cut lettuce for multiple harvests with my simple trick.
1. Pick the right variety of lettuce
Not all lettuces will work with this multiple-harvest technique, so make sure you are choosing a ‘cut and come again’ lettuce variety. Loose leaf lettuces, Salanova, Eazyleaf, babyleaf or lettuce mixes will all work. Butterheads, Romaine and Iceberg will not regrow this way.
Consider planting various colors and textures of these lettuces to create a nice salad mix. Choose varieties that all have similar DTM (Days to Maturity) so that they won’t throw off your harvest schedule. Market farmers will usually plant about 8 different varieties to add weight, color, texture and loft to the mix. Think of it as a planting recipe… what would you like in your mix?
I’d recommend trying any Salanova variety, or any Eazyleaf variety.
Another technique would be to purchase different baby leaf varieties and mix them together for direct-seeding. You could even throw in some baby kale leaves, mustards and edible flowers to mix it up. There are also plenty of pre-made mixes from seed companies that work great too.
Try the Gourmet lettuce blend, Mesclun Mix, or DMR Salad Blend.
Interested in just generally getting excited about lettuce? Check out my favorite lettuce varieties.
2. How to harvest lettuce
The fun part! This is where you’ll need a sharp garden knife and a harvest bowl. Gently grab a handful of lettuce like you are about to tie a ponytail. If harvesting from a loose-leaf head lettuce (like Salanova) cut above 3-4 sets of leaves from the bottom. If harvesting from a greens mix, cut about 1 inch from the bottom of the plant. Be swift yet gentle, and remove any debris or rotty leaves from the plant. If possible, your plants will appreciate a drink of water after harvesting to help spur new growth.
In the photos below you’ll see where I harvested my salanova lettuce, and the re-growth that occured within one week.
You can also watch me use this technique in action on TikTok.
3. Watch the lettuce regrow
In the bottom right photo below, you’ll see after just one month, the plants are already filling out and will be ready for another harvest soon. The new growth stems from the middle of the plant. I removed the lower leaves so that the plant would concentrate it’s energy on regrowing, not dealing with the leaves left behind. You’ll be able to get away with 2-3 harvests per plant, after which they will most likely become too bitter or tough. Second cuttings will be less tender and perfect, but they’re still light years above store-bought lettuce in terms of quality and taste.
The photo on the left is a tender head ready to be cut for the first time. The photo on the right is a second-growth, almost ready for harvest.
Please let me know what you think!
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