The Resourceful Lettuce Tip So Your Homegrown Stash Stays Full All Season

There are numerous benefits to growing your own food. Freshly picked produce from your home garden often tastes better, is economical, and can be healthier since you can control the use of pesticides and fertilizer. If properly cared for, a garden can foster self-sufficiency; in other words, you won't have to go to the grocery store every time you need produce. Lettuce is a versatile leafy green vegetable that is commonly grown in gardens. It grows quickly, will continue producing for a significant time, and doesn't require much care beyond regular watering.

Lettuce is also a great cut-and-come-again vegetable, meaning, if harvested the right way, it will grow back. If you want to keep your lettuce producing tasty green leaves all season, try this tip: When harvesting your lettuce, instead of pulling it out of the ground, cut it just above the roots. This way, the leaves will regrow in just a couple of weeks, and you'll have fresh food again from the same plant. The lettuce leaves typically will grow back about three to four times. 

The best way to harvest your lettuce

To harvest your lettuce, simply use a large, sharp kitchen knife to cut across the base of the plant, just above the roots. Garden shears can also be used but might not give you the clean, straight cut that a knife would. The remaining stub of lettuce will regrow, and you can continue harvesting it the same way until it stops growing back. Another harvesting method for loose-leaf lettuce is to cut just a few of the outer leaves with a knife or garden shears. Leaving the center leaves and the roots intact will allow the lettuce to continue to grow. This is a great method if you need just a couple of lettuce leaves for an individual sandwich or salad. 

Most lettuce varieties can be harvested with the cut-and-come-again method including butterhead, romaine, summer crisp, and oakleaf. Varieties that are more compact, such as iceberg lettuce, are better off being pulled out by the roots.

There's some debate among gardeners and cooks about whether using a metal knife to cut lettuce makes it turn brown faster. However, there's no concrete evidence to support this claim. One study found that the sharpness of the knife, not the material, was more likely to affect the storage quality of lettuce.