Is growing romaine lettuce from scraps a good idea? As far as kitchen garden ideas go, lettuce is a popular crop for a reason – easy and cheap to grow, doesn't require huge amounts of space, and reduces the need to shop for (plastic-wrapped) lettuce at the supermarket. But is growing this salad staple from scraps feasible?
As with most things, there are pros and cons to this lettuce growing method. Here's what professional gardeners think.
Growing romaine lettuce from scraps: the pros
Organic gardener and owner of Vancouver-based The Ripe Tomato Farms, Jeff is all for the regrowing from the stump method. Whether you use the whole-cut method or the 'come and grow again' method for harvesting your lettuce, 'you know that lettuce leftover starts to regrow. We can guess with a high probability that lettuce when cut will start regrowing foliage, all on its own.'
So, just observing this veg is telling us that it's easy to regrow lettuce from the stumps you have left in your raised garden beds after harvesting.
However, Jeff has one important tip for making the most of this method. If you regrow your lettuce stump in water, the growth will peak after about two weeks. This is the time when you should harvest whatever you've got, because after that point, the leaves don't grow as well anymore, and the lettuce may even start to flower.
In other words, you can easily get one day's extra salad out of your used lettuce stump. It won't cost you anything (you don't even need soil, just water). If the lettuce you originally bought was organic, you can be sure that you're getting organic lettuce leaves.
Growing romaine lettuce from scraps: the cons
The biggest con to growing romaine lettuce from scraps is the low yield. You won't get much out of a lettuce stump, so don't expect a whole season's harvest out of a couple of stumps – you just won't get it.
Venelin Dimitrov, Senior Product Manager of Burpee, particularly cautions against regrowing supermarket-bought lettuce. He told The Spruce that 'If you use veggie scraps from grocery stores, it will not taste as good as the original vegetable, and you will likely not achieve a vegetable the size or quality you may be expecting.'
Bought lettuce that had been frozen? Forget it, it's probably not even got a viable root system. If you want to put your supermarket food scraps to good use, learn how to compost instead.
If you want to regrow lettuce from scraps, use only lettuce stumps from your garden, not the ones from the grocery store. For best results, always grow lettuce from seed.
Anna's background is in academic research – she is the author of London Writing of the 1930s, published by Edinburgh University Press. She is a keen urban gardener and has an impressive collection of house plants.
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