When to harvest romaine lettuce

deanreedy(4)July 4, 2007

How will I know when to harvest my romaine lettuce?

I know I could probably pick it any time, but when is the optimal time to pick?

thanks,

Dean

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ole_dawg(7 UpCountry SC)

That is up to you. I pick mine small because it is very hot here and if I let it go to long it will bolt. I start my containers during the summer at two to three weeks intervals. You can also cut and come again your romaine. I am doing that with some of mine. Take the bottom leaves and the plant will continue to produce. Just be careful and take on a regular schedule or again it might start to bolt.
What varitiy are you growing?

    Bookmark   July 4, 2007 at 10:37PM
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deanreedy(4)

I am not sure variety of romaine I am growing, it just said romaine when I purchased them, they are a nice light green. It looks like these pictures, but mine have more leaves at the bottom. http://flickr.com/photos/36774144@N00/10182351/

I did just purchased some discounted 'Parris Island Romaine' yesterday for $.25 a 6 pack.

They are beautiful plants that are almost ready, I think. I am just not sure on when the hearts ought to be harvested. They are probably 14 inches tall.

thanks,

Dean

    Bookmark   July 5, 2007 at 12:47AM
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koreyk

Well if you are hungry you can tear off the outer leaves and leave the inner leaves. that way you always have more.

I am growing Jericho this year and the heads are so big that one head is enough for maybe 6 big salads or more. so I find it good to just pick the outer leaves.

if you pick only the outer leaves you can not pick them too early because the plant keeps growing more leaves.

here is your picture of paris island cos.

My advice is to grow Jericho. you can get a big pack of seeds at Fedco Seeds for only $1. Mine looks much better than this picture. lettuce is super easy to grow from seed. just make sure they are not crowded and only one plant per spot in the garden.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2007 at 1:51AM
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deanreedy(4)

ok, here are my plants.

I definitely see I need to trim them. How much should I trim or do they need harvested completely? The tallest is about 2 feet plus tall.

If I left one(how long), before it would goto seed and would I still be able to use the seed this year yet?

What variety of Romaine are these plants, anyone know?

thanks,
Dean

    Bookmark   July 5, 2007 at 12:28PM
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Violet_Z6(6a)

How will I know when to harvest my romaine lettuce?

I know I could probably pick it any time, but when is the optimal time to pick?

When the leaves are big enough (in your opinion) to be worth picking to eat. Having a garden with your own plants means you have the luxury of being able to harvest anything (peppers, eggplant, radishes, lettuce, broccoli, cabbages, cucumbers, zucchini, etc) at a younger stage (which is usually preferred by most people).

Optimal time to pick is between 1:00 am and before the dew evaporates in the morning. But since that's not practical for most people, then harvest just before you're going to eat them. When in doubt, the fresher the better.

They are beautiful plants that are almost ready, I think. I am just not sure on when the hearts ought to be harvested.

Again, having the luxury of your own garden means you don't have to wait until the plant is showing signs of bolting in order to harvest. As mentioned above, harvest the older leaves as you're going to eat them. General rule of thumb is to take off no more than 1/3 of the plant at a time. If you harvest the entire head, the plant will stop producing. If you have several heads, then by all means, harvest an entire plant if you're going to eat it. But if you're like me, you only grow 1-2 plants of different varieties and continually harvest the outer leaves throughout the season.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2007 at 12:40PM
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deanreedy(4)

Is it worth letting one goto seed, to have seeds for next year? or I am wondering if they are hybrids?

Any ideas on when or how long until they would goto seed? Can I still harvest some leaves while letting it goto seed?

Note: I have 8 other romaines(Paris Island) I bought cheap(2 tall inches now). I hope they make it.

thanks for all of the info.

Dean

    Bookmark   July 5, 2007 at 12:54PM
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ole_dawg(7 UpCountry SC)

From the look of it I would say that the taller of the plants in your photo is already going to seed. You need to cut the shorter ones or start taking the leaves from the bottom. Once that center tall shoot starts they are going to seed and they tend to taste like hell.
As your new ones start gaining size try cutting one and tasting it.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2007 at 1:39PM
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Violet_Z6(6a)

If you have seeds left over from the seed packet - and you should - since there are over 1000 seeds in a one ounce packet, then you should have more than enough to tide you over for a few years if you store them properly. Without having to grow out your own seed. But you could do an experiment and allow one plant to go to seed. Harvest the seeds, plant some from this seed and some from your seed packet. Mark them and note any differences over the years in a garden journal.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2007 at 2:08PM
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lelia(Northern Cal)

I think you'd better start eating some salads. When my lettuces get that tall, it's not long before they start tasting awful and going to seed. In fact, taste it before you go to all the trouble of washing the lettuce and making a salad, because you never know. Bolting lettuce is one of the more revolting foods in the world.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2007 at 3:33PM
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lelia(Northern Cal)

This is what happens when you allow lettuce to go to seed:

    Bookmark   July 5, 2007 at 3:39PM
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Violet_Z6(6a)

This might give a better idea visually:

    Bookmark   July 5, 2007 at 6:36PM
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deanreedy(4)

The romaine taste pretty harsh, nothing like I think of Romaine, it has gone to seed.

I guess lesson learned!

thanks,

Dean

    Bookmark   July 6, 2007 at 9:54AM
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vera_eastern_wa(5a-5b)

I have Jericho this year too...LOVIN' IT!! It's been hot and still no bolting or bitterness. Have been harvesting from them since mid April :D

Vera

    Bookmark   July 6, 2007 at 12:28PM
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organic_farmer_bob(8)

Can you cook bolted lettuce to improve the taste? Like a Mustard green or something?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2007 at 6:39PM
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orangedragonfly

I usually pick it when it is very small. I just cut the outer leaves like someone eles suggested and it always seems to grow back. Mine never gets that big though. I can usually do this 3 times per head before it tastes bitter.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2007 at 7:03AM
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lexilou

hello, is this what you mean by "bolting"? (pic attached in Romaine link) Its my first run at the garden and I think as for the 64-74 days recommended I'm early. But is does look like secondary growth in the center of the heads- I'm not sure if they're bitter but does it look like I should cut them already?

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 17, 2007 at 10:39AM
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npthaskell(coastal oregon)

> Can you cook bolted lettuce to improve the taste?

If the bolting stem is thick enough to be worth the trouble, you could peel off the skin and eat the crunchy non-bitter central core. Celtuce is lettuce especially bred for this purpose (I haven't tried any celtuce yet). "Integrata Red" romaine was one cultivar whose stem was worth the trouble (stem was 3/4 to 1 inchin diameter). Side bolts (about 1/8 to 1/4 inch in diameter) of Integrata Red are less bitter and could be eaten without peeling. As I recall, the leaves were even less bitter.

Some cultivars are mildly bitter when bolting. I could eat the bolting stem of "Comanche" (Johnny's) without having to peel; but I really need to repeat this observation because this was when Comanche was grown indoors under artificial light during winter. As I recall, the leaves were less bitter than the stems.

Cracoviensis is a Romaine that has been advertised to remain non-bitter even when bolting; I'll find out in a few weeks.

The central cores of "Laura" and "Jack Ice" (two Batavians) were mildly bitter when picked just as the heads started to bolt.

I don't know about cooking; all my comments are about raw cores and leaves. My vague recollection was that cooking chicory didn't do any good (chicory is closely related to lettuce).

    Bookmark   July 21, 2007 at 4:32PM
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young_gardeners

My romaine lettuce is bolting, if I cut it down will it grow back and be enjoyable to eat? This is my first year growing romaine so I would appreciate the help.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2007 at 10:25PM
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npthaskell(coastal oregon)

> if I cut it down will it grow back and be enjoyable to eat?

This depends on the cultivar.

In general, secondary shoots or heads tend to be smaller than the first head, and tend to bolt quicker.

"Nevada", a Batavian lettuce available from several sources, gave decent sized secondary heads that didn't bolt too fast, and these tasted as good as the primary head. Several secondary heads emerge, and they have to be "thinned" so that the remaining ones can grow large.

"Fine Cut Oak" (Wild Garden Seeds) gave secondary growth that tasted better than the primary head.

"Oscarde" (Wild Garden Seeds & Johnny's), a red oakleaf, gave secondary shoots that were quite small and bolted quickly. While the primary head was mild, the secondary shoots and their leaves were too bitter for me.

"Comanche" (Johnny's) is a new romaine that generated secondary shoots that bolt quickly once the primary head is cut back. I could eat the shoot and its leaves without peeling the skin; taste was more bitter than leaves from the primary head, but not too bitter for me.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 2:40AM
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yeayea_420_gmail_com

I grew some lettuce indoors and I harvested way before the flowering stage. I only let it grow about a month. However, it still has a bit of a bitter taste. This lettuce was grown from harvested seed from 05. Why does the lettuce taste bitter? What did I do wrong?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 9:18PM
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brent1985

Its possible you either gave it too much fertiliser or it was too hot. Either way, lettuce tends to taste bitter when it grows too quickly.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2008 at 10:03PM
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johnappleseed

It was mostly around 85 degrees and I did not add any fertilizer. Planted directly into Miracle Grow organic soil.

I ate it anyway, slightly bitter, so it was okay. But I would love some suggestion on how to prevent this from happening again. Was the temp too high at 85?

    Bookmark   May 10, 2008 at 7:30PM
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granite(z6 NC)

Lettuce bitterness also has a lot to do with watering. Too little water = bitter lettuce.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2008 at 10:58PM
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hatchjon

hi johnappleseed
"Was the temp too high at 85?" Yes the temp was too high.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 12:30AM
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portlandhigh

When Lettuce bolts it turns bitter right away. It gets tall and elongated as well. You can slice open one of your heads of lettuce and see if the growing crown is elongating. This means it is bolting. There is a great video on how this is done below.

Here is a link that might be useful: How To Grow Lettuce and See It Bolting

    Bookmark   July 13, 2008 at 6:50AM
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lisa_h_13

I am growing Parris Island lettuce for the first time but it looks nothing like any pics posted! The one plant is as tall as my waist! If I knew how to post a pic, I would. lol! Are there different types of Parris Island??

Thank you for any help!!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 7:11PM
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DGCooper82(9)

@Portlandhigh - great video. Thanks for sharing.

I'm not sure what variety of romaine I have, I think it's called Vivian Romaine. But it's only about a foot tall. It's starting to get thicker in the middle, fill in, I guess you could say. Anyone have any experience with that one?

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 12:43PM
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