Maximize Your
Lettuce Harvests
Growing and Harvesting tips for
getting the biggest yields from the
lettuce grown in your indoor garden.

The only thing better than freshly picked salad greens in May is… freshly picked salad greens in February! Thanks to indoor gardens like the AeroGarden fresh homegrown salad greens are no longer just a spring luxury. With an AeroGarden, lettuce harvests can begin in just three weeks and continue for months. So enjoy your fresh lettuce in salads, on sandwhiches, or as a snack right off the plant (it’s just that tasty).

Here are a few tips for maximizing your ongoing harvests of lettuce from your indoor garden.
  • Two types of harvesting. When most of us picture harvesting lettuce from a garden, we picture plucking a full, ripe head of lettuce from the fertile earth. That’s NOT how to maximize your lettuce harvest from an indoor garden. With lettuce and most herbs, the way to maximize your harvest is to use a method that our friends in the UK call “cut and come again.” In an indoor garden, there are two primary ways to accomplish this, with passionate supporters on both sides:
    1. The Haircut. Just like it sounds, as lettuce grows, just trim off the top inch or two and place it straight into the salad bowl. You can start as young as 3 weeks (depending on variety) and the lettuce grows back quickly and continues to produce more. Harvest this way up to 2-3 times per week. Be careful to leave 2/3 of the plant height behind in this method, only trimming the top 1/3 of the plant at any time. See diagram and video below.

    2. Single-leaf Harvesting. As your lettuce grows some leaves will get bigger faster than others. By trimming (and eating!) these big leaves, you get more light and air to the smaller ones, which helps them to grow faster. This is a case where careful pruning can really increase your yields! Just take pruning shears, scissors, or your fingers, and trim as close the the base of the stem as you can. As you’ll see in the demo video, you can start this on very young plants, and keep harvesting for months! See video above.
Here are a few tips for maximizing your ongoing harvests of lettuce from your indoor garden.
  • Keep lights low. Lettuce thrives on lots of light, like the light provided automatically in your AeroGarden. The more light, the bigger the leaves get, and the more lettuce starts to form the big heads we’re familiar with in stores (lettuce grown indoors under artificial lights rarely demonstrates this “heading” growth habit). But keeping the light low is key. When you prune, prune evenly, with the goal of never raising your AeroGarden light hood. But don’t let your lettuce brown up in the lights either. Harvest and eat it before you get there!

  • More lights. In keeping with the light theme, if lower lights are good, more lights is better. You’ll get bigger yields in an AeroGarden when you grow in one of our 3-bulb tall gardens like the Extra or Extra Elite. Or upgrade your AG7 garden with a Deluxe Upgrade Kit.

  • “Toughen-up” Your Lettuce. Lettuce grown indoors is surprisingly tender. Many people love this. Some people miss that extra crunch. The lettuce is tender because it is grown in the “spa-like” conditions of an indoor garden, with no sun, wind or bugs to toughen it up. An easy way to put more bite in your lettuce is to aim a small fan at the lettuce while it is growing. The constant movement on the plants requires them to create tougher leaves to stand up to the wind. Many people find this helps create the texture they are looking for. And it helps with our next point:

  • Keep it cool. Lettuce is a cool-weather crop. It thrives in temperatures from 55-70 degrees. Above that, it can tend to bolt because it thinks it is summer and time to go to seed. For best production, keep your lettuce in the coolest spot in your home – you’ll have trouble finding a spot so cool it isn’t happy! While you might think that a sunny window is helping your harvest, the heat generated could be doing more harm than good. A fan helps here too.

  • Variety Matters. AeroGarden varieties have been thoroughly tested for fast germination and good growth in indoor gardening conditions. Our “Salad Greens” kit is literally ready for a first harvest at just 3 weeks (see video). When choosing your own variety, you may need to do a little experimenting to find varieties that grow well in your environment. But that’s part of the fun, especially when the experiments taste so good! Growing lettuce indoors is a great way to eat better and have fun growing your own food. It’s also the fastest-growing indoor crop – you can actually see it grow from day to day! And thanks to indoor gardens like the AeroGarden, enjoying homegrown lettuce year round has never been easier.