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Lamb's lettuce, also known as Rapunzel, lamb's lettuce or nuts, is one of the most popular "lettuces" due to its intense aroma. It is presented in numerous varieties, which in turn have a wide variety of flavors and should therefore not be missing in any garden.

Anyone who grows a large amount of lamb's lettuce will be amazed at how high the yield can be. Valerianella locusta forms quite a bit of plant material, which is harvested and used by humans. Because of this, in a good year you will have enough lettuce available for some of the plants to flower. Many gardeners then ask themselves whether the leaves of the lettuce become inedible or taste worse due to the flowering. At the same time, the question arises as to when the valerian plant (bot. Valerianoideae) should best be harvested in order to avoid flowering.

Valerianella locusta, lamb's lettuce

Edibility after flowering

Is lamb's lettuce still edible after flowering?

Whether the leaf lettuce is still edible after flowering is clearly one of the justified questions. The reason for this: Many other spice plants lose their aroma or even become inedible after they have developed their flowers. Since lamb's lettuce is not a lettuce but a herb, the same can be assumed for Valerianella locusta. However, this is not the case with lamb's lettuce. Although the shape of the plant changes significantly after the flowers have developed, all parts of the plant are actually edible:

  • blossoms
  • seed
  • stem
  • leaves
  • Roots (not advisable as soil is difficult to remove)

As you can see, you can eat the entire plant, even when it has formed buds. However, form at the same time bitter substances, which distort the classic taste a bit. Since lamb's lettuce is a naturally spicy herb, these bitter substances are not so noticeable. At least that is the case with specimens that are harvested immediately after flowering. The longer the flowers remain on the plant, the more intense the bitter taste becomes.

tip: Be sure to keep the seeds of the plant, because you can use them as an aromatic decoration in salads.

harvest

Rapunzel is such a popular plant in your own garden as it can be harvested over a very long period of time. The rosettes can be harvested about ten to twelve weeks after sowing. Depending on the variety, sowing in September is even possible, which significantly extends the harvest time, as these varieties are only available for harvest in the new year. On the other hand, varieties that are sown early are all the faster. The harvest time as follows:

harvest time

October to May

Yes, the harvest season runs through the winter and it is even possible to harvest the popular leaf lettuce during this time of year. Appropriate measures are of course required for effective overwintering, so that the plants do not suffer from the cold, even if they are very resistant to it. The typical lamb's lettuce harvest usually occurs between October and early December. The specimens sown in September are then harvested from February and March.

tip: If you want to make harvesting easier, you should definitely keep your lamb's lettuce bed weed-free. It is also worth firming the substrate between the individual rows with your shoes, as this will make it easier for you to reach the rosettes of the spicy lettuce.

Valerianella locusta, lamb's lettuce

Harvesting lamb's lettuce: instructions

When your lamb's lettuce is ready to be harvested, you should know the best way to go about it. This is important because the right approach will increase your yields and make your work a lot easier. You need garden shears for the cut, which should be sharp and clean. This protects the honeysuckle family (bot. Caprifoliaceae) from possible infection by bacteria, viruses or fungi that may be on the blade. So make sure you clean it well. You don't need gloves. Proceed as follows when harvesting:

1. First select a row or individual seedlings that you want to harvest. This allows you, for example, to determine exactly which row or which specimens should grow back faster.

2. Once you've chosen your specimens, kneel and lift the rosettes. Grasp all of the above-ground leaves or parts of the plant so that you have them securely in your hand. This protects the leaves from soil, which saves you time. Otherwise you would have to spend it washing the lettuce thoroughly.

3. Now cut off the entire plant. Do not make the cut too close to the ground, otherwise the lamb's lettuce will have a hard time sprouting again. Just make sure that the interface protrudes a little above the ground so that the plant doesn't suddenly disappear underground. However, you must cut as low as possible to preserve the rosette. That would be the ideal cut and requires a bit of finesse. Don't worry, that will come with time.

4. Finally, place the rosettes in a basket or bowl and can then process them.

Harvesting is one of the easiest aspects of Rapunzel care and can be completed in a short time with experience. Take your time harvesting to get a feel for the right cutting height that will keep the rosettes intact. This can differ from variety to variety, as they often have a different growth habit.

tip: If you harvest over the winter, you should definitely air it out regularly, since you have to lift the fleece or the winter protection anyway. If you're feeling chilly, put on gloves to be on the safe side and trim the same way you would in fall and late summer, and you can look forward to fresh lamb's lettuce during the cold season.

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