Harvesting Salad Greens Year-Round
The only thing better than freshly picked salad greens in May is… freshly picked salad greens in February! Thanks to indoor gardens like the AeroGarden, the seasonal waits for fresh greens can take a vacation. Now, lettuce harvests can begin in just three weeks (depending on variety) and continue for months. So enjoy your freshly picked lettuce from your indoor salad garden in salads, on sandwiches, or as a snack right off the plant (we all do it, no judgement passed).
There are basically two types of harvesting. When most of us picture harvesting lettuce from a garden, we picture plucking a full, ripe head of lettuce from the earth. That’s not how you maximize your lettuce harvest from an indoor garden. With lettuce and most herbs, the way to maximize your harvest is to use a method that our friends in the UK call “cut and come again.” There are two perfectly valid schools of thought on this, and we explain them below:
- The Haircut: Just like it sounds, as lettuce grows, just trim off the top inch or two and place it straight into the salad bowl. You can start as young as 3 weeks and the lettuce grows back quickly and continues to produce more. Harvest this way up to 2-3 times per week. Be careful to leave 2/3 of the plant height behind with this method, only trimming the top 1/3 of the plant at any time.
- Single-leaf Harvesting: As your lettuce grows, some leaves will grow bigger and faster than others. By trimming (and eating) these big leaves, you get more light and air to the smaller ones, which helps them to grow faster. This is a case where careful pruning can really increase your yields! Just take pruning shears, scissors, or your fingers, and trim as close the the base of the stem as you can. You can start this on very young plants, and keep harvesting for months.
Whichever way you choose, it’s important to harvest early and often! you want to ensure your lights stay low and keeping your lettuce from getting too big is the best way to do that.
Growing lettuce indoors is a great way to eat better and have fun growing your own food. It’s also the fastest-growing indoor crop – you can actually see it grow from day to day! And thanks to indoor gardens like the AeroGarden, enjoying homegrown lettuce year round has never been easier.