Intro: Perpetual Lettuce? Maybe!
I had seen this process on various websites - take the cut end of a head of romaine lettuce and put it in a glass of water and it will continue to grow. Okay sure, kind of like the avocado seed experiment you do in grammar school science class. So, while making a salad one night I thought, let's see what happens!
Step 1: What Do You Do With the End of the Lettuce After You Make a Salad?
Next time save it, don't throw it away!
What you'll need:
A head or two of Romaine lettuce - $3.00 for a bag of 3
A water glass slightly larger than the end of the lettuce
A knife to cut the lettuce
Later on, a pot to plant the lettuce into - 10" clay pot - $4.00
potting soil - $12 for a 30 lb bag, LOTS left over for other things.
Step 2: Prep to Make Your Salad
Using a sharp knife of your choice, cut a Romaine head on a cutting board about 3 inches up from the bottom, keeping the root-end. Set it aside and make your salad. This salad was for my wife's lunch the next day.
Step 3: Cut End and H2O
Fill your drinking glass a little less than half full. Place the cut root-end of the Romain into the water root-end down. If the water covers the top of the root-end, where you want the leaves to grow, take out the root-end and pour out some of the water so that it no longer covers the top of the root-end.
Step 4: Growing in the H2O
Place the glass on a sunny window sill and wait. Change the water in the glass every day. In one to two days you should see that the clean cut that you made is no longer clean. It will look a bit ragged with the middle of the top of the root-end being a little taller and greener than the rest of it. After 5 days you ought to have a good 1/2" to an inch of new growth of lettuce.
You can see in the pictures above the ranges of growth from fresh cut through 7 days of growth in just a glass of water.
Step 5: Planting the Root-end
Once you have close to 3" worth of new growth, transplant the lettuce into the pot so that only the new growth is above the soil. Make sure to not leave your root-end in water for more than 7 - 8 days, the outer leaves of the root-end will turn very soft and begin to rot. It's not pretty!
Water the lettuce regularly, but don't soak it. Give it plenty of sunshine, but if it got a little bit of afternoon shade, that would be fine too.
And that's it! I hope to have a fresh head of Romaine lettuce from this experiment very soon; I'll post a pic or two of the results when it's ready to harvest.