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How to Harvest and Save Lettuce Seeds

To harvest lettuce seeds, you just shake the tops of the bolted plant over a bowl or bag, and the seeds will fall out. 

You then store them in a cool, dry place, and you can use them up to five years later.

Harvesting lettuce seeds on your own is a great way to keep getting lettuce every year without paying any money. 

On top of that, it is a super easy process that only takes a few minutes.

The rest of this article will give you better instructions on harvesting and saving lettuce seeds.

How Do You Harvest Lettuce Seeds? (In-Depth)

Lettuce will only produce seeds you can harvest once it has bolted. 

And you can tell bolted lettuce because it has turned very bitter and started to grow tall stalks.

Then, to identify where your seeds are, just look at the top of the tall stalks, and you should see a bunch of flower-like things growing there. 

This part is where the seeds are.

Next, you should make sure your seeds are nice and dry before harvesting them. 

So, if it’s been raining, wait until it’s sunny and the seeds aren’t wet anymore. 

Dry conditions will make the seeds much easier to harvest.

All you need to do now is cut the top off your lettuce plant (the part which contains the seeds) and shake them over a bowl or paper bag. 

You can also use your fingers to get the seeds out of individual flowers.

The seeds should easily fall into the bag or bowl. 

Read Also >> Why Save Seeds?

How Do You Get the Plant Material Out of Your Seeds After Harvest?

This white and green fluff that gets mixed with your lettuce seeds is chaff. 

All you need to separate the chaff from your seeds is a strainer and another bowl or bag.

Simply pour all of the seeds and chaff into your strainer and shake it around over the bowl or bag. 

The seeds should fall through, and the chaff will stay in the strainer.

This process is super easy and will leave you with a collection of separated lettuce seeds that are ready to use. 

How to Store Lettuce Seeds

Correctly storing lettuce seeds is simple and will prolong the life of the seeds. 

You just need to keep your lettuce seeds in a dry, dark, and cool area. 

If you store lettuce seeds in a hot or humid place, they will deteriorate quicker than if they were kept somewhere cool and dry.

Additionally, keep your seeds in a paper bag for about two weeks to absorb any moisture, then transfer them to an airtight container.

Read Also >> How to Harvest and Save Zinnia Seeds

Can You Store and Plant Lettuce Seeds Without Separating Them From the Chaff?

You can store and plant lettuce seeds whether they have chaff in them or not.

Chaff is essentially just the parts of the plant that isn’t seeds, and it won’t interact with the seeds at all when you plant or store them. 

And when you plant the seeds, the chaff will just decompose in the dirt, and the seeds will grow as normal.

But, one thing to keep in mind if you don’t want to separate the seeds and chaff is to make sure your seeds and chaff are dry before you store them.

If the chaff isn’t completely dry, it will rot after storing it, and the seeds will decay.

So, it may make more sense to go ahead and separate the chaff from the seeds. 

Will Harvested Lettuce Seeds Expire?

Like any other seeds, lettuce seeds will eventually expire, and they will no longer germinate. 

But, lettuce produces one of the more long-lasting seeds, taking about five years to expire.

For comparison, many other types of seeds expire in less than a year. 

How Do You Tell if Your Lettuce Seeds Have Expired?

There are a couple of ways to tell if lettuce seeds (and most other types of seeds) have expired.

First off, you can put some of the seeds in a container of water and keep them there for 15 minutes. 

If they float after 15 minutes, they probably won’t sprout. 

But if they sink, they are most likely still good.

You can also look for mold or cracks in the seeds, and if you find either of these, your seeds are probably not good anymore.

Additionally, seeds are supposed to smell earthy, so if your seeds smell moldy or mildewy, chances are they are not good.

Yet overall, there is no foolproof way to tell if your seeds have gone bad besides planting them and waiting. 

However, the above methods can help you make an educated guess about whether they will sprout.

Read Also >> How to Store Seeds Long Term?


Lettuce seeds are some of the easiest seeds to harvest and store since they don’t need much special attention. 

Mostly, you just need to make sure you store them in a dry, dark, and cool area until you can plant them.

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