I think every homestead should grow lettuce! In the summer time, I will occasionally even have it for breakfast. I definitely have fresh lettuce with almost every meal. It is so crisp and delicious when eaten freshly picked! I do not enjoy store-bought lettuce nearly as much. That is why I love growing it. Lettuce doesn’t have a long shelf life, so harvesting just before your meal is the perfect time to do it. I think leaf lettuce is the best type, because it is so easy to harvest and there are so many different varieties. Since the leaves grow individually from the crown; using the cut-and-come-again method is perfect. Take care to not cut the crown, that way you will have continual growth. I simply pinch off the larger leaves near their base. Just prior to eating, I rinse the leaves with water and spin dry. If you don’t have a dryer, just blot the wet leaves with a clean towel. If you are going to eat it later, put the unwashed leaves in your refrigerator. Even though lettuce is known for being a cool weather plant, it doesn’t fare well in a very cold refrigerator. Make sure it is in the warmest section of your refrigerator. When it comes to being outside thogh, lettuce is known for being very heat sensitive. It grows best below 75 degrees. I have been told that is best to harvest in the morning when temperatures are lower to avoid any bitter taste. However, I often harvest at lunch and dinner time and the leaves still taste great. I will share my secret that seems to help my lettuce keep producing in hot weather (don’t tell anyone)! Shh…this is my homesteading lettuce secret. When temps raise to about 75 degrees, I will water the soil (not the leaves) with very cool to cold water. This seems to help keep the lettuce from bolting, which is something you do not want to happen. Bolting is when the lettuce plant gets ready to go to seed. The center (crown) will shoot up to produce seeds. When this happens, the leaves become very bitter. Yuck!
I hope this little blog will help encourage you to grow and harvest your own lettuce. If not, I made this very short, somewhat humorous video so you can see just how easy it is to harvest, as well as see how easily our family is entertained. Truly though, I do hope I have encouraged you to grow it. Eating it freshly picked is soooo delicious. Watch video now