How to Harvest Lettuce Without Killing the Plant

When harvesting lettuce, you should proceed in several ways depending on the consumption we are going to make, how we have sown or planted lettuce, what time of year we are, etc. Learn all about How to Harvest Lettuce in this article.

Although it is really simple, lettuce harvesting can present reasonable doubts to those who are new to this crop. Should the lettuce be cut whole or in parts? Where do you cut the lettuce plant? When is the lettuce ready for harvesting? How to harvest lettuce without killing the plant?

Here we will answer all these questions about the harvesting of lettuce and give several options when harvesting lettuce, according to the needs of each one or the use you want to give.

How to Harvest Lettuce

How to Harvest Lettuce? Lettuces can be consumed from the time they are very small until the plant’s flower (spike), at which point the leaves harden and turn yellow.

It is convenient to harvest the lettuce just before we are going to consume it, so it will hardly lose any nutritional properties, and it will be very fresh, with an unbeatable flavor, and it will not take up space in the refrigerator.

It is always better to harvest lettuce early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the plant is fresh. Not only that, but it is not good to harvest lettuce in full sun unless you have no choice.

On rainy or cloudy days, lettuce can be harvested at any time because the leaves will be cooler.

As for the moon phase, the best time to harvest lettuce will be near the full moon, when most of the plant’s nutrients would be in the leaves.

how to harvest lettuce
How to Pick Lettuce? You should easily pick lettuce by taking only a few leaves, for example in winter you should not pick more than 2 leaves per plant.

How to Harvest Lettuce Without Killing the Plant

How to Harvest Lettuce Without Killing the Plant? There are two different ways to harvest lettuce without killing it:

  • The first option is to harvest only the outer leaves of the lettuce little by little, this will allow the lettuce to continue to develop.
  • Remove the weeds, then with a sharp knife take a handful of your lettuce and make a square cut. Cut the lettuce to 0.5″ or 1″ (1 cm or 2.5 cm) above the growing point, this way in a few weeks you will be harvesting lettuce again.

With either of these two ways, you can harvest lettuce without killing the lettuce plant. In a few weeks, you will have lettuce ready to harvest. In winter, it may take a little longer for the lettuce plant to grow, but it will grow again. Learn more about How to Grow Hydroponic Lettuce.

how to harvest lettuce without killing the plant
How to Harvest Lettuce Without Killing the Plant? Look at the image to learn how to harvest lettuce correctly without killing the plant. As you will observe, you should not cut the lettuce at the soil level so that it can continue to grow.

How to Harvest Romaine Lettuce

How to Harvest Romaine Lettuce? Lettuce is a vegetable that grows best in cool climates, but romaine lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. var. longifolia) withstands more heat. To harvest romaine lettuce, you should wait between 55 and 65 days, a period in which the romaine lettuce will be ready for harvesting.

Remove the outer leaves of your romaine lettuce plant during growth to obtain smaller lettuce leaves. This way, you will be able to harvest romaine lettuce longer.

You should harvest romaine lettuce when the plant is 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) tall. Ideally, romaine lettuce should be harvested in the early morning hours, when the plant is cooler.

Cutting the head of the romaine lettuce at ground level will allow the plant to continue growing, and you will get more lettuce. But if you are no longer interested in harvesting romaine lettuce, just dig up the whole plant.

how to harvest romaine lettuce
Romaine lettuce can be easily harvested 55 to 65 days after planting.

Tips for Harvesting Lettuce

Mature lettuces can also be harvested leaf by leaf, cutting only those that are necessary for that moment. This avoids having to store the lettuce in the refrigerator and also allows it to emit new leaves, although if we take too long to cut it will not take long to rise to a flower.

It is not convenient to remove more than 2 leaves from each lettuce if it is growing slowly (winter) or 4 when the weather is favorable (spring-summer), and always keep in mind the size of the lettuce. The larger the lettuce, the more leaves can be removed at once.

If this leaf harvesting is done in winter – or outside the time when lettuces tend to flower – it will not be necessary to plant new lettuces, since you will only need to have a few to harvest leaves from at a slower rate than it takes to replenish them. Learn more about How to Grow Buttercrunch Lettuce.

tips for harvesting lettuce
Tips for Harvesting Lettuce.
About Henry Morgan

We are the Morgan family, Henry, and Julia, both agronomists from the University of Michigan, where we met. We are experts in putting our hands in the soil and developing organic foods and improving production processes for decades. Likewise, we have worked for companies such as Mondelez International, BASF, Monsanto, etc. currently in our role as science writers for TheGardenStyle.com as well as advisors in promoting large scale food growing in urbanized areas. In this website, we share what we are most passionate about, gardening and farming. Enjoy and see real photos on our website.