Collecting Seeds | Vegetables

How to Harvest Lettuce Seeds: 6 Easy Steps for Harvesting

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Harvesting lettuce seeds is one of those garden tasks you usually end up doing on a whim. It’s fun, quick and easy to learn how to harvest lettuce seeds and I’m happy to show you how. All you need is a pair of scissors, a paper bag, and a permanent marker when collecting lettuce seeds.

Figuring out how to get lettuce seeds is pretty easy once you’ve been around the garden a bit. Look for the dried lettuce flower heads that grow from the center of the lettuce plants!

When you do find your lettuce gone to seed, there’s two thing I recommend doing. Keep reading and I’ll walk you through them, but first here are a few common questions about lettuce seeds.

How to Harvest Lettuce Seeds from the Garden - Hand in Gardening Glove holding lettuce seed pods
How to Harvest Lettuce Seeds from the Garden – Holding some lettuce seed pods

How do you know when to harvest lettuce seeds?

Knowing when to harvest lettuce seeds is easy when you take the time to observe your garden. When the lettuce plant bolts, it sends up a flower stalk that soon contains viable lettuce seeds for next year’s crop. Plan to gather lettuce seeds when the flower stalk and seed heads are totally dry. You might even see a little fluff sticking out!

How long do lettuce seeds last?

Generally, lettuce seeds last between one and six years. If kept in desirable conditions, lettuce seeds may last longer than some other kinds of seeds. However, sometimes they may remain viable for only a year or so. (Source: JohnnySeeds.com)

How to Harvest Lettuce Seeds

Saving lettuce seeds will take only a few precious moments of your day and the results will be well worth it – I promise!

Take a paper lunch bag and a pair of scissors to the garden with you and let’s get started!

Follow these steps to harvest lettuce seeds for saving or seed swaps.

  1. After your lettuce goes to seed (bolts), watch the plant until after it flowers. When you notice the flower stalk and flower head are dry and brittle, it’s time to gather lettuce seeds!
  2. Hold the top of the lettuce flowers together in one hand. Then, cut the stem with the scissors.
    Harvesting Lettuce Seeds from the Garden - Holding a bunch of lettuce seed pods
  3. Place the snipped lettuce seed pods into the paper bag.
  4. Repeat for the remainder of your lettuce seeds.
  5. Label the bag with the type of lettuce and the year.
  6. Roll the bag top closed and save the bag in a cool, dark, dry place until next season.

PRO TIP: If you wish to grow lettuce in a particular place next year, that is easy to do. Lettuce self-sows readily! Simply crunch up some of the lettuce seed pods to release the seeds in your garden and sprinkle them where you want lettuce next year.

You might even get some lettuce volunteer plants as a gift from your garden!

By the way, you might also want to check out my post on Growing Leaf Lettuce in Pots. You can also direct sow some lettuce seeds in pots ahead of the season.

Separating Seeds from Lettuce Seed Pods

Lettuce seed pods are the dried flower heads you can collect after lettuce bolts and completes its lifecycle.

Although saving seeds in a paper bag is totally acceptable and definitely the easy way out, you can always save in neater packets or baggies if you wish.

Loose leaf lettuce seeds - Separating Seeds from Lettuce
Loose leaf lettuce seeds – Separating Seeds from Lettuce

If you want to do a seed swap with other gardeners, you’ll likely want to separate the lettuce seeds from the seed head. Here’s how to do that:

  1. Set a paper plate in front of you and pinch the individual dried flower heads from the lettuce over the plate.
  2. Tiny lettuce seeds should fall to the plate, along with the crumbled refuse from the seed pod.
  3. Separate the seeds from the chaff by pushing them each to opposite sides of the plate.
  4. Continue until you have enough seeds saved.
  5. Transfer the seeds to little baggies or seed envelopes and discard or compost the rest.

Harvesting Lettuce Seeds for the Future

Now that you know how to save lettuce seeds, you can start dreaming about all those salads next year! Nothing quite like a fresh-picked salad! 🙂

We love collecting seeds from lettuce for next year, and especially the tip on pre-seeding the garden with them. It’s even more exciting in the spring to see how soon the lettuce appears.

Do you have any questions on learning how to harvest lettuce seeds? Maybe you have more tips to share! Either way, we always love hearing from you. Feel free to drop a comment.

Happy Gardening!

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