Are you a nature person? Who loves to grow plants and spend time with them. In your long list of growing various kinds of plants, is romaine lettuce one of them? Then this is for you! Here you will learn about how to harvest romaine lettuce.
1. Romaine Lettuce
Before knowing how to harvest romaine lettuce plants, first, see what romaine lettuce is. There are various types of lettuce, romaine lettuce is one of the most important among them.
It’s easy to grow! They have a sturdy, elongated leaf and compact head, and firm rib centre. They have dark green leaves. Romaine leaves are also crisp and stiff. They are narrow, and long, and have a coarse and crisp texture. They are heat tolerant, unlike other lettuces. It originated in Greece.
1.1 Common Names of Romaine Lettuce
In North America, many refer to the romaine lettuce heads as “hearts”. Like that, it has various names:
- Leaf lettuce
- Lactuca sativa
1.2 Varieties of Roman Lettuce
Heading lettuce and looseleaf lettuce are the two types of romaine lettuce. They are not of a single variety, there are various romaine varieties:
- Flashy Trout’s Back: Flashy Trout’s Back has an amazing appearance of green and red speckles. It has an open head. It will provide the crisp leaves you expected!
- Valmaine: Valmaine has a bright lime-green appearance. It is the most heat tolerant among all the other romaine lettuce varieties. It will produce large heads that can feed a whole large family!
- Truchas: Truchas leaves are dark green in the tip and lime green in the middle. It produces small heads which are enough for small families or single people.
- Winter Density: Winter Density is the most cold-tolerant variety of romaine lettuce. This variety of lettuce would be useful for people who live in northern climates.
- Little Gem: This variety is known for its small size. It also has a sweet flavour. It will grow in your little garden space or a container.
- Cimmaron: Cimmaron leaves are dark red-purple and their base is green in colour.
- Parris Island: Parris Island is the most commonly used variety among the cultivators. This produces dark green, crispy leaves in a large amount.
- Romaine Rouge d’Hiver: Romaine Rouge d’Hiver has deep red leaves. If you want colorful lettuce for your salad. Romaine Rouge d’Hiver is the one for you!
- Crispino: Crispino produces medium size lettuce heads. It is perfect to cultivate in both fall and spring as they are tolerant in both seasons.
These are some of the romaine varieties.
1.3 Common Romaine Lettuce Seeds Varieties Used by Cultivators
Even though there are various varieties of romaine lettuce seeds, some are commonly used by the cultivators, they are:
- Organic parris island
- Little gem
- Organic super red
1.4 Nutritional Benefits
Romaine lettuce has various benefits. It is higher in minerals, and vitamins and lower in carbohydrates and calories. It approximately has 8 calories, 1.5g of carbohydrates, 1g of fibre, 0.6g of protein, and the total fat is 0.1g. Let’s see its health benefits in detail:
- Romaine Lettuce contains calcium which will help in our muscle & nerve function, building & maintaining our bones.
- Lettuce also contains phosphorous, which helps build strong teeth and bones.
- Romaine Lettuce has magnesium which helps in relaxing muscles in our body. Magnesium also works with calcium in building tissue.
- It contains potassium which is an electrolyte and has various functions in our body which includes muscle contraction, nerve function, and movement of cells, and helps in a regular heartbeat.
- It also contains various vitamins which include vitamin C. Vitamin C is rich in antioxidants and supports our immune system.
- Lettuce has vitamin K which is essential for blood clotting after an injury takes place in our body. Along with calcium helps in preventing mineral loss of bones.
- It also has vitamin A which helps in reproductive health and cell growth. It improves eye-related problems. Also helps in maintaining kidneys, heart, and lungs.
2. How to Grow Romaine Lettuce?
Before knowing how to harvest romaine lettuce, let’s see how to grow it. Are you someone who has never grown a vegetable but wants to grow romaine lettuce desperately? Don’t worry about anything. Just follow the below-mentioned guidelines.
2.1 What to Use – Seeds or Plants?
As lettuce-related plants grow quickly, both options are plentiful. You sow romaine lettuce seeds and harvest them within a period. But if you want it in the spring season, you can use romaine seedlings of romaine lettuce and you can get amazing salads quickly.
2.2 When to Plant?
Your next question might be what is the right time to plant romaine lettuce? Romaine lettuce can tolerate moderate temperatures and grow in it, unlike other vegetables. It can grow when the weather is cooler, in fall or early spring. So, depending on the climate, the planting time will vary.
- If your area has mild winter, start growing romaine lettuce two to four weeks before the last frost. The range of soil temperature is important for germination which should be around 40-75 degrees Fahrenheit.
- During the fall period, start growing romaine lettuce around 6-8 weeks before the first fall. In the fall harvest, before the lower temperature comes, it will grow into a mature plant. Around 55-70 degrees Fahrenheit, it will grow well in this period.
2.3 General Requirements
To develop crisp leaves, it needs at least 6 hours of sunlight each day. It can tolerate shade, especially during the hotter season of the year, as afternoon shade prevents overexposure to sunlight as it affects its leaves.
Romaine lettuce grows in soil that contains high organic matter. The soil PH should be around 6-7. The soil should have all the basic requirements for the lettuce to grow before planting.
2.4 Where to Grow?
Crisp romaine lettuce grows well under some conditions. Good air circulation is required for its growth and to make the plant disease free. Appropriate spacing is required for the pants to grow individually well.
Even though it needs space, it doesn’t occupy a large amount. Thus, you can grow romaine lettuce in your backyard or balcony in small spaces itself. The general required amount is given below:
- In the ground, approximately it requires 25-30 cm apart from each other in your garden soil which will be enough for their heads to grow completely.
- If you want to grow romaine lettuce in containers, you should provide 15-20 cm apart from each plant. This will give the plant essential nutrients and airflow. You should water it more regularly.
- If you’re growing them in containers, nutrition should be fed regularly through fertilizers. Every two to three weeks give the required amount for proper growth.
- It requires a temperature of around 13 to 21 degrees for its adequate growth.
2.5 Steps Involved in Growing Romaine Lettuce
Start growing romaine lettuce plants in your garden by following some simple methods and conditions cost-effectively.
Selection of Seed: High-quality lettuce seeds are required to grow romaine lettuce. You can get it from your nearby seed suppliers. Select the lettuce seed packet which has flavour profiles to your preferences, adequate maturity time, climate and disease resistance, etc.
Prepare the Containers: You can use various containers peat pots, seed trays, etc. It should have drainage holes to ensure equal oxygen supply to roots.
Planting Seeds and Germination: The seed mixture should have all the requirements for the growth of romaine lettuce. Moisten this mixture before placing it in the container.
2.5.1 Step By Step Process of Growing Romaine Lettuce
a. Start sowing 2-3 romaine lettuce seeds in the container and press them deeply about 0.6-1.3 cm. Now cover this with a layer of seed starting mixture. It needs light to grow, so don’t cover it too much.
b. Maintain this container at a temperature of around 15-21 degrees Celsius. Make sure this temperature is consistent for adequate growth.
c. Watering the plants is essential for their growth. You should water them by placing them in a water-filled tray as it absorbs water through the drainage holes. Make sure not too much is absorbed.
d. Within 7-14 days, the lettuce seeds germinate. Once the seedling reached 1 inch, keep the strongest one and remove all the weaker ones. Maintaining the required temperature is necessary for its adequate growth.
e. Before the seedlings grow 7-10 cm tall expose them to the outer atmosphere. Don’t show it directly to the sunlight, first expose it in a sheltered location. Then gradually expose it to sunlight.
f. If it reached the required height which is around 7-10 cm, they are ready to be transplanted into the garden. Choose a location that will provide sun and partial shade.
2.6 Tranplantation Techniques
After our lettuce seedling reached the required height, it’s ready to transplant. Transplantation needs to be done correctly. Let’s see how to do it.
- After 4-6 weeks, lettuce will grow around 7-10 cm. At this time, it will develop a strong rooting system.
- Six hours of sunlight are required daily for optimal growth of lettuce.
- Improve the soil by mixing it with organic matter and by removing unwanted materials like rocks and weeds.
- Before transplantation don’t forget to water it properly.
- In the prepared soil, produce a larger hole to hold the root of the lettuce seedling.
- Now, take the lettuce seedling and put it in the hole you made. Make sure the root is on the same level as the soil.
- The lettuce seedlings should be placed 25-30 cm apart from each other for adequate aeration and space for each of the heads to grow.
- Now, fill the hole with soil to eliminate air pockets.
- Once transplantation is done, water it properly. Avoid over-watering and try not to make it dry.
- Apply a layer of shredded leaves on the top of the soil around the lettuce seedlings to maintain soil temperature, moisture and to suppress weed growth.
- Give fertilizer accordingly as it has adequate nutrients for its growth.
- Use preventive measures and pest control methods to prevent diseases and pests.
- As we did while growing lettuce seedlings, here also remove the weak plants and allow the stronger ones to grow well.
3. Nurturing of Romaine Lettuce
For the romaine lettuce plant to grow healthy, you should nurture it well. Your job doesn’t end after transplantation is done. It begins after that. To nurture your lettuce plants, follow the below-mentioned guidelines.
- Are you eager to see the crispy leaves of romaine lettuce plants in your garden? For that, the first thing you have to do is water it regularly.
- To avoid over-watering, try using drip irrigation which makes soil consistently moist and leaves evenly and without overwetting it. This also reduces the risk of it getting disease.
- For the plants to get a continuous supply of nutrients, don’t forget to give them fertilizers at the required time throughout the growing season.
- Always look for weeds because they will affect the growth. So, don’t forget to remove it regularly.
- Practice hygiene while handling the plants to avoid any diseases.
After all this, your grown lettuces are ready to harvest. Follow the above practices to get the fantastic lettuce leaves that you’re longing for!
4. How to Harvest Romaine Lettuce
Here comes the most awaited part we have all been waiting for, yes it’s harvesting romaine lettuce! It’s the reward for all the hard work we put in while growing the lettuces. How to harvest romaine lettuce? there are various things we have to consider while harvesting romaine. We’ll see it one by one.
4.1 Methods of Harvesting Romaine Lettuce
There are two methods of harvesting romaine lettuce:
4.1.1 Harvesting the Entire Head
Harvesting the entire lettuce head may take some time but it will be worth it! Here we’ll see how to harvest romaine lettuce – the entire head.
184.108.40.206 Steps Involved in Harvesting the Entire Head of Romaine Lettuce
- After planting the lettuce seeds wait for about 70 days for the heads to grow fully. You can identify its maturity by seeing them.
- They have a dark green leafy firm and open appearance. And it looks similar to a rose that is in blossom.
- It would be 20-30 cm long.
- If it reached the desired height and has the required appearance, it is ready for harvesting.
- Harvest the entire head by using a sharp knife, and cut the entire heads of all the lettuce plants (one lettuce plant at a time!) by grabbing the head of the lettuce base.
- Cut the lettuce heads of the romaine plants 2.5 cm or about an inch above the soil surface leaving some stem in the ground for regrowth if you want. Removing the heads at least above about an inch is important.
- If you left some stems for regrowth, it will be another 60 days before you harvest romaine lettuce next time. But this head won’t be large and dense as it was in how you first harvest romaine lettuce.
- Make sure you pulled the entire plant out of the soil without leaving any stem, if you don’t want to leave any stem for the second harvesting.
- You don’t need a knife or gardening shears for this, just grab the entire head of lettuce with your hand and pull it off of the ground.
- You’ll end up getting the roots along with the romaine heads. Remove the dirt in the roots before bringing it inside your home.
- Make sure there are no roots left in the soil, as it may induce re-sprouting.
- After getting the lettuce head inside separate a few leaves and wash them properly. You can use it immediately or keep it in the fridge for later use about 10 days.
4.1.2 Harvesting Outer Leaves
If you’re someone who prefer smaller leaves rather than the whole head and wants the lettuce to keep growing even after you occasionally took the outer leaves. Then this technique is for you! Let’s see how to harvest romaine lettuce – the outer leaves:
- If the outermost leaves reach 10-15 cm, they are ready for harvesting.
- The best time to harvest the outer leaves of the lettuce plants is early morning, as the lettuce leaves would be fresh at that time. Later, the lettuce leaves would be dried out by the sun.
- If you need only mature leaves of the lettuce plants, remove the outer 6-8 leaves from the head. You can use garden scissors or garden shears to remove the outer leaves.
- Don’t forget to disinfect your scissors or garden shears before and after using them for cutting.
- By doing so, the inner leaves of the lettuce plant would keep on growing. You can also remove the outer leaves by hand by snapping them downwards.
- The only disadvantage is in this method we’ll only harvest romaine lettuce in a small amount.
- After the inner leaves of the lettuce plant reached 10 cm and opened up it is ready for harvest.
- You’ll get a high harvest of romaine plants than the previous method as it keeps on growing.
- Leave two-thirds of the plant to make sure it grows energetically.
- Wash the harvested romaine lettuce leaves and put them in a perforated plastic bag or an airtight container and place it in the fridge for later use. You can store it for about 10 days.
4.2 How to Extend the Harvest?
You don’t know how to harvest romaine lettuce for a long period and don’t think it’s possible? Well, there is good news. You can extend your harvest! Let’s see how.
- Romaine lettuce can tolerate both heat and cold. But even though it can’t survive temperatures more than 80 degrees Fahrenheit or a hard frost.
- If you want successive harvesting continuously, you need to plant seedlings or sow seeds every 3-4 weeks in the growing season.
- By doing that you can get romaine lettuce continuously as once the first round of plants is harvested another one will take that place and start to grow.
- If the weather is so hot, make sure to hang some shade clothes above the plants. By doing so, you can extend your harvest and shorten the harvesting time. Also, try to grow it in the afternoon shade in this season.
- Suddenly, if the weather turns cold, it may affect the plants’ growth. Row covers would be helpful at that time.
- As romaine lettuce can tolerate cold more than heat, you can extend the period of harvesting till the initial part of winter.
- By following this you can have many successful harvests.
a. A little Harvesting Tip:
Before harvesting leaves, cut the leaves and if it produces any milk, then it implies that it is ready for harvesting. This lettuce milk causes no harm, so don’t be afraid. Taste this milk and if produced any bitter taste, then it is not suitable for eating. Remove it. If it tastes normal you can harvest and eat it.
Check Out: How to Harvest Lettuce So It Keeps Growing?
5. How to Store Romaine Lettuce and Keep It Crispy?
We’ve seen how to harvest romaine lettuce and your hard work is paid off and now you’re holding the fresh romaine lettuce that you harvested in your garden. But there is a slight problem.
You are planning to eat it two days later for a special occasion and you’re terrified that it won’t be fresh even when you stored it in the refrigerator.
No worries! We are here to help you. Below mentioned are the ways to keep it fresh for about a week.
5.1 Steps Involved in Storing Romaine Lettuce
- The first step is washing. You can wash your harvested romaine lettuce in running tap water. But the easy way is soaking it in a bowl full of water. By doing this you can remove all the dirt and unwanted things attached to the lettuces.
- If you have a large amount of lettuce, select the container according to it and fill the water in that. Then, rinse your lettuce in that.
- The next step is drying it. Use a salad spinner for drying. In an appropriate size, cut your salads and place them in that. If you don’t have a salad spinner don’t worry, you can use paper towels for drying.
- Now transfer your lettuce into a container that has a lid. Place some wet paper towels on top of them and close the container.
- Then place the container in the refrigerator, and make sure you didn’t place it in the freezing temperature.
- If you forget to harvest your lettuce in the morning and it becomes so dry, don’t lose hope! And don’t put it in the dustbin. You can revive it to the normal stage.
- Put those leaves in a bowl full of cold water and place it in the refrigerator. Make sure it is in the non-freezing zone.
- Leave it there for about an hour or two. Then take it out and dry it. Now it is rehydrated!
6. Some Dishes with Romaine Lettuce
You have fresh romaine lettuce stored in the fridge by now. What to do with it? What a stupid question, cooking it and making dishes with it! You might have put that in the salad bowl by now to make Caesar salads. Below mentioned are some dishes to make with it apart from salads.
- Stir fry
If you try making these with freshly harvested romaine lettuce, it will taste the best.
After harvesting, you’ll have your romaine lettuce in your hands. For getting nutritious, disease-free, and fresh lettuce make sure to follow the above guidelines. You can grow your romaine lettuce in your garden itself, you don’t need to buy lettuce in the stores and worry about its quality.
If you want your garden to look more colourful, plant a mixture of varieties of romaine lettuce which are mentioned above. Then your kitchen garden will look amazing with the mixing of the colours green, red, purple, lime green, and green with red speckles. Try it and see it for yourself!