The Q&A Archives: Harvesting Lettuce / radishes

Question: How do I know when it is time to pick my crop. I planted some romaine lettuce and it is getting huge also my cabbage is growing like crazy although I do know that it isn't ready. But my romaine, head, butter, and red lettuce I have no clue. Also I think I am suppose to slow down the growth on my cabbage but can't remember where I heard that from. So when do I pull or cut and how do I pull or cut? Oh and I think my radishes are ready, but how do I know? Thank you

Answer: The best way to determine whether or not your radishes are ready for harvest is to pull a few and check their sizes. Radishes are edible at any size but you'll get better flavor if they're about an inch in diameter. Leaf lettuce can be harvested at any time. I often just pull some of the outer leaves for eating, allowing the rest of the plant to continue to grow. This way I have fresh lettuce for a longer period of time. You will want to harvest the entire head of lettuce, though, before the weather gets too warm and the plants begin to go to seed. Once they've begun to grow a flowering stalk, the leaves will turn bitter.

Cabbage can be harvested anytime after the heads form. For highest yield, cut the cabbage heads when they are solid (firm to hand pressure) but before they crack or split. When heads are mature, a sudden heavy rain may cause heads to crack or split wide open. The exposed internal tissue soon becomes unusable. Harvest and salvage split heads as soon as possible after they are discovered.

In addition to harvesting the mature heads of the cabbage planted in the spring, you can harvest a later crop of small heads (cabbage sprouts). These sprouts develop on the stumps of the cut stems. Cut as close to the lower surface of the head as possible, leaving the loose outer leaves intact. Buds that grow in the axils of these leaves (the angle between the base of the leaf and the stem above it) later form sprouts. The sprouts develop to 2 to 4 inches in diameter and should be picked when firm.

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