How to Harvest Romaine Lettuce [and Keep It Growing!]

Lettuce is one of the first things that many gardeners start to grow, and romaine lettuce is a firm favorite. Today, we’ll look at how to harvest Romaine lettuce. We’ll also discuss how to keep it growing! That way, you get ongoing harvests. And oodles of fresh lettuce leaves!

Romaine lettuce is tremendously easy to grow and tastes fantastic picked fresh from the garden, whether as part of a crisp salad or added to sandwiches and wraps.

We want to show the best way to harvest romaine lettuce reliably. And – how is romaine lettuce different from other lettuce crops.

Let’s take a closer look!

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Sound good?

What Is Romaine Lettuce?

Romaine is a variety of lettuce that originates from Greece. It is one of the most heat-tolerant lettuce cultivars, making it popular with gardeners in warmer climates. Another name for romaine lettuce is Lactuca sativa – and many Americans refer to romaine lettuce heads as hearts. (Everyone loves a fresh romaine lettuce heart.)

It also has many other nicknames! Cos, butterhead, and leaf lettuce are most common. No matter the name, this tasty lettuce produces tight heads of long, crisp leaves, with a thick center stem on each leaf. The outer leaves can be slightly bitter, while the inner leaves are sweeter and more tender.

romaine lettuce growing in vegetable garden
Romaine lettuce (L. Sativa) is one of America’s most popular lettuce cultivars. Romaine lettuce is refreshingly light, crisp, yet thick-ribbed. It’s also the uncrowned king (or queen) of Greek salad – and Caesar salads. Romaine hearts get harvested while still tender – and have a sweet flavor. The romaine lettuce leaves turn bitter in the warm weather – or if you wait too long to harvest.

How Do You Grow Romaine Lettuce?

If you’re new to growing vegetables and salad, then romaine lettuce should be at the top of your must-buy seed list! Sow the seeds directly in the soil. Or into pots and gro-bags. You can even sow a lettuce crop in your hanging baskets and window boxes!

Lettuce seeds can get started in a seed tray either in the house or in a sunny greenhouse. When your seedlings are around four weeks old, they should be large enough to transplant outside.

You can also sow romaine lettuce seeds directly into the ground. Sow them either outside, in the greenhouse, or under a cloche. Tiny peat pots also work. 

Sow the romaine transplants around twelve inches apart. Thin them out as they start to grow larger. Don’t throw away these mini lettuces, as the baby leaves are delicious in a salad!

The best part about romaine lettuce is that it grows (relatively) effortlessly once established. Then all you need to do is keep your lettuces well-watered and watch them grow.

romaine lettuce in vegetable garden little gem
Romaine lettuce has a long and fascinating history. The Roman Empire cultivated tremendous amounts of romaine lettuce long before it came to America. In many parts of the UK, romaine lettuce bares the title Cos lettuce – named after the Greek island of Cos – where long-ago farmers once cultivated and distributed the crop.

Read More – Okinawa Spinach Growing Guide!

How to Harvest Romaine Lettuce

Romaine lettuce is ready to harvest as soon as the leaves look big enough to toss into a salad – or sandwich! It’s a forgiving plant – and we recommend harvesting before the romaine heads grow too firm.

There are many ways to harvest romaine lettuce, so you can choose a method that works best for you. When pruning and collecting lots of lettuce quickly? Either pull the plant up from the ground or cut it off at the base.

Harvesting whole lettuce with the roots will keep it fresh for longer in the refrigerator, or you can pop it into a shallow jar of water in a cool place. You will need to wash the soil from the lettuce base and the roots. Otherwise, your salad will taste dirty!

(Some homesteaders don’t mind a little dirt in their salad. But – I much prefer a thorough rinse.)

Once harvested – your romaine lettuce lasts for about a week or two in the fridge.

A cleaner method is to slice the lettuce off at the base with a sharp knife, leaving the root in the ground. Leave around one inch of the stump above the soil surface.

Lettuce harvested in this way will not stay fresh and crisp for quite as long as a plant with the roots still intact. However, there are some excellent advantages to this technique.

Firstly, the lettuce stump will regrow and give you a second lettuce crop! This regrowth may not be as abundant as the first crop, but if you’ve got the space in your garden to leave the stump. Then give it a go. We love a two for the price of one crop round here!

Secondly, leaving the roots in the ground will help to keep your soil healthy. The vegetable roots provide nourishment for your next crop when they rot down, helped along by an abundance of microorganisms.

(This is kind of like core gardening 101. Placing compost directly into the soil. It works and feeds your garden over the long haul.)

fresh romaine lettuce transplants organic garden
You can direct sow romaine lettuce – or germinate them indoors two to four weeks before your final frost. Romaine lettuce is a cold-weather crop. It doesn’t mind soil as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it prefers soil between 55 and 65 degrees. Harvest the romaine heads as they begin to close.

Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve finally got romaine lettuce all figured out. But not so fast! We have a few sneaky romaine lettuce nuances to consider. We also know there are a few romaine lettuce harvesting and growing questions that you may have.

So, here are the best romaine lettuce tips and answers we can share.

Read More – Herb Watering Guide! Indoors, Outdoors, and Pots!

Best Romaine Lettuce Seeds for Easy Harvests

Romaine lettuce is crisp, light, easy-to-grow, and it tastes delicious in any salad or sandwich.

Growing romaine lettuce is also surprisingly simple! Your romaine lettuce plant will provide plenty of crops for you once it begins to mature – and as long as the weather stays moderately cool, they keep growing.

We assembled a list of the best romaine lettuce seeds for new gardeners.

We hope they help – and happy gardening!

  1. Romaine Lettuce Seeds | Parris Island Cos
  2. Romaine Lettuce Seeds | Parris Island Cos
    $5.95

    Want fresh garden salad growing in your garden ASAP? These non-GMO romaine lettuce seeds are excellent for sowing into your peat pots or directly into the garden soil. Each pack contains over 2,200 romaine lettuce seeds. Perfect for spring gardens! The seeds come from the USA. They're also open-pollinated and heirloom seeds.

    Get More Info

    We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    05/20/2022 12:40 pm GMT
  3. Lettuce Lovers Seed Packet Collection | Seed Needs
  4. Lettuce Lovers Seed Packet Collection | Seed Needs
    $9.99 ($1.25 / Count)

    Want a green leafy trove of fluffy lettuce leaves? Check out this bundle of seeds! You get red romaine, ruby red, prizehead, oakleaf, and Parris Island Cos. Plus more. Harvest times vary. However, expect abundant lettuce crops within 40 to 60 days. The seeds are also non-GMO and from open pollination. Sow directly in soil or pots. They also work with hydroponics.

    Get More Info

    We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    05/20/2022 05:40 am GMT
  5. Mixed Romaine Lettuce Seed Pod Kit | AeroGarden
  6. Mixed Romaine Lettuce Seed Pod Kit | AeroGarden
    $15.98

    The AeroGarden growing system isn't for everyone - but it's neat! If you have an AeroGarden, then this non-GMO romaine lettuce growing kit has everything you need to start a bright-green and delicious salad garden. We love the pre-seeded grow basket with a fluffy growing medium so you can germinate the seeds without fuss. The kit also has liquid plant food and a mini growing dome.

    Get More Info

    We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    05/20/2022 02:28 am GMT

Conclusion

Few things in your garden are as rewarding as fresh romaine lettuce!

It’s perfect if you’re grilling BBQ salmon, smoking mouth-watering steaks, or if you want a 100% vegan menu. Romaine lettuce is tasty, healthy, and easy to sow. And grow!

If you have questions about romaine lettuce harvesting – or growing tips – please share!

We thank you for reading.

Have a great day!

Read More – Best Potting Soil for Growing Herbs!

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