Fall is a great time to grow lettuce! But how you harvest it makes a difference in how well it grows – and how long it lasts. Here are some helpful tips for getting the most out of your fall lettuce crop.
With fall just around the corner, you may be planting some lettuce for fall and winter salads. But did you know that there is a right way and a wrong way to pick leaf lettuce?
Contrary to what some people may think, the best way to pick leaf lettuce is not by chopping it all down with a pair of scissors. When you cut the lettuce with scissors, it can cause browning of the leaves and damage to the crown. To maintain a long-lasting and beautiful lettuce crop, you need to preserve the crown of the lettuce and pick just the outer leaves.
You can watch this segment from the High Performance Garden Show Week 5 to watch how to pick leaf lettuce. (Check out this free weekly show often for more leafy greens and other vegetable gardening techniques.)
From the video, did you notice how lettuce grows in a spiral formation? Those outer leaves are always the ones that are best to pick. When you pick them when they are young and tender you will find that they will have an incredible flavor and make beautiful salads.
You can use this technique for picking other kinds of greens as well. Kale, Swiss chard and beet greens are among the top types of leafy green that are often grown for too long. When you pick them when they are no more than 5 inches tall you will enjoy a superior flavor and texture to that of a matured leaf.
After you pick the outer leaves, allow the crown to grow for another week. By that time the spiral will have grown out even more and the new crown leaves from the previous picking will be the outer leaves. This cycle can continue for several weeks depending on the variety. By picking this way you can also stop the plant from bolting as quickly as it would with other picking techniques.
Picking leaf lettuce this way is a key technique to having lettuce all season long. If you would like to grow lettuce all season long, you may want to take a look at the Leafy Greens Container Garden Course. In that course you can learn a secret soil recipe, useful techniques for succession planting, and how to feed your lettuce all season long for a productive and long-lasting lettuce crop!