If you love eating your greens, you should grow a garden full of them! Most greens are easy to grow, and by doing so, you can have access to unlimited salads in your backyard. You can get started with planting lettuce, and there’s one type of lettuce that any amateur can easily grow. A variety of the Bibb lettuce, Buttercrunch lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is aptly named because of how crunchy it is. You just have to make sure you’re harvesting it at exactly the right time to avoid munching on bitter-tasting lettuce leaves.
Before you learn how to harvest, make sure you’ve planted your Buttercrunch properly first. This variety is a little bit more tolerant compared to others, so you have a little bit of a leeway with growing. Just make sure your crops are well taken care of so you can enjoy it as much as possible after your harvest. If grown properly, you can harvest leaves from your plants without having to uproot them.
When Can You Harvest
As soon as your Buttercrunch plant starts to form (even a few leaves) you can start harvesting right away. These are considered baby leaves, and they’re nice additions to salads and sandwiches. Buttercrunch lettuce is known for its characteristic buttery taste. It’ll give your sandwiches a nice crunch and flavor too. Make sure to cut away the supporting leaves from the outer part and the inner part also. This will encourage the head to grow more leaves. When harvesting, try to harvest when it’s a little bit cooler out, as heat tends to wilt the leaves quickly. It also helps to do it right before you’re ready to eat it because once it’s picked, it will start to wilt. For example, if you’re planning for salad during dinner, don’t cut your lettuce in the morning. You’ll want them to stay as fresh as possible, so cut the leaves just before you start preparing your dinner salad and then serve as soon as possible.
You can continue to take leaves from a Buttercrunch lettuce plant before it matures. Typically, a Buttercrunch head will have anywhere from 55 to 60 days to fully mature. Once you begin to notice the taste is changing, it might be getting close to passing its prime. You’re looking for bitterness to its taste and a tougher texture when chewed. At this point, you’ll have to harvest the entire head so you can still eat it before it becomes unusable.
Harvesting the Entire Head
Remember that you don’t have to harvest leaves as the lettuce grows. You can wait until the Buttercrunch is completely mature before you use it. Harvesting an entire head also doesn’t mean that you won’t get any growth from it anymore. By cutting and harvesting properly, you can give the plant a chance to grow another head.
To get started, make sure the plant is mature first. Estimate the date from when the seeds were first planted, and feel for firmness around the head. You’ll want to harvest the Buttercrunch just before it fully matures for the best flavor. Using a sharp knife, you’ll want to cut the head just above the outer leaves that are touching the dirt. Make sure to harvest the Buttercrunch when it is cooler outside to prevent wilting, and if you’re not going to use it right away, store the entire head unwashed in the refrigerator. Make sure to wrap the head up nicely in plastic wrap before storing. Your lettuce head will last for up to two weeks if done this way.
As far as the plant stem you left in the ground, it should continue to grow leaves. Make sure to cut these leaves regularly and utilize them. If you allow a leaf to flower, the resulting leaves will have a definite bitter taste. Regular cutting will prevent this and will also give you Buttercrunch lettuce regularly. Otherwise, you can always just pull up the entire plant and start all over. Reconfigure your soil again before planting, and start the process of growing. You might have to wait another 2 months for some fresh Buttercrunch lettuce, but it’ll be worth waiting to have it in the end.