Lettuce Growing Companions

GFPlettucechallengeWe have exactly two weeks remaining in the Lettuce Challenge and are looking forward to the 2016 Buttercrunch Awards, Wednesday, June 15, 4 pm at the GEC.  Last year the GEC hosted a showcase in our gallery of student lettuce plants, and we hope to see you there again this year.

The theme for this year’s Buttercrunch Awards and gallery is Lettuce Growing Companions.  Expect to see a colorful representation (and perhaps a potluck of tasting samples) of Lettuce Companion plants (carrots, radish, runner beans, cucumber, and strawberries) featured in the gallery alongside our lettuce because as it says on our favorite image of companion planting “A Diverse Garden is an Abundant Garden”.

companion-plantingWe hope to have a large cheering section for our young gardeners, their families, and teachers!   In the meantime, don’t forget to send us photos or questions to share from your lettuce growing adventures, innovations, experiments, and art projects.  Then check out our own growing notes and Buttercrunch spotting challenges below.

This year, we are doing a little experiment exploring companion plants.  Can you spot the three Buttercrunch plants hidden among the Endive lettuce, African Blue Basil, Kale, Parsley, Rosemary?  This planter was arranged and planted by a fifth GEC volunteer, we can’t wait to see it grow.  We are curious to see how the parsley and lettuce grow together, as they are traditionally listed as poor growing companions.  Pictured below are some photos submissions of lettuce experiments with sub-irrigated pop bottle planters for lettuce and microgreens, closeups of spotting and removing aphids from Buttercrunch leaves, and an example of a vermicomposting experiment, compost was added around lettuce peat pots.  Good luck growers!  We look forward to seeing more photos from your school and student gardens



 Want to help with the Lettuce Challenge Buttercrunch Awards?

Please take a minute to answer our anonymous survey.  CLICK HERE so we can better reach our goals (teachers, community members and parents, we want to hear from you, whether or not you participated this year)

GOAL 1:  Encourage novice gardeners by challenging them to grow something edible, and take steps towards good nutrition
GOAL 2:  Have a showcase for our garden growth:  a celebration day (with awards!) for our new skills, and a venue to share the challenges and benefits of gardening in schools
GOAL 3:  Help school communities improve their gardening, and enrich their curriculum by connecting them to gardening resources and local partners

We also have a volunteer task list for those who want to help organize/decorate the gallery, prepare awards or welcome judges, provide/serve healthy refreshments, or collect feedback for Garden Fairchild Challenges at the GEC in the future.  Please email us at youth.director@gecgreenwich.org if you would like to be more involved.

Here’s a different planter to practice spotting Buttercrunch lettuce:  two of our familiar plants are hidden among Endive Lettuce, Basil, African Blue Basil, Kale, and Thyme



The Lettuce is coming!



To print this coloring sheet, click HERE (pdf)


The numbers are in and 340 second grade students will be participating in the second annual Greenwich Green Schools Lettuce Challenge.  These students represent seventeen classrooms, in both public and independent schools, who have pre-registered and will be caring for lettuce plants in their classroom windowsills or school gardens over six weeks, as part of the Fairchild Challenge at the GEC.  They are eligible to feature their top plants in our Buttercrunch Showcase at the Garden Education Center on June 15th and may win awards for Green Hearts, Green Thumbs, Green Minds, or Green Spaces.  This year the GEC is also awarding the $500 Fairchild Challenge Award, towards environmental projects at their school.

Remember, it’s not a competition, it’s a CHALLENGE, to encourage each other to grow and connect to healthy foods in our classrooms.  TOGETHER, we are planting seeds for lifelong learning, healthy living, and green stewardship!

Here are some photo updates below:

  • March 28:  lettuce seeds planted in trays
  • April 4:  seedling progress
  • April 22nd:  hundreds of seedlings being transplanted into peat pots by GEC Greenhouse volunteers on Earth Day


We look forward to seeing registered schools on May 4th for plant pickup, and again on June 15th for our awards and showcase.

To view details and FAQ for the Lettuce Challenge please visit this site. CLICK HERE
You will also find a link to a google doc at the top of the page that has “how to get ready for your plants” tips and more information about the Lettuce Challenge.

Who is taking the challenge this year?

  • Glenville School
  • International School at Dundee
  • Old Greenwich School
  • Riverside School
  • Sacred Heart Greenwich
  • The Stanwich School

COMING SOON:  Meet our panel of local experts at the Buttercrunch Awards 2016

PRINT OUT:  Here is a new coloring sheet invitation we added, for schools to share with students and families: COLORING SHEET INVITATION(jpg)


Family Greenhouse Demo & Fairy Play

Our Microgreen Farm Workshop with GEC Youth has sold out for Mushrooms, and Sprouts today, but don’t worry!  This Sunday we have two family demo times.

Mushrooms Ages 1-3; 9:15 a.m.-10:15 a.m.
Sprouts Age 3-8; 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Drop into the GEC Greenhouse to see a ten minute demonstration:  how to build your own papercrete containers, and then take some creative time to play with our supplies.

We are watching the forecast carefully for snow on the first day of Spring.   We will post any weather updates or cancellations on this page.   Thanks! 

WEATHER UPDATE:  AFTERNOON SPROUTS IS CANCELLED DUE TO WEATHER and local cancellations.  AFTERNOON SPROUTS FAMILIES ARE WELCOME TO ATTEND MORNING MUSHROOMS, 9:15-10:15am (snow and rain are expected from Noon to 3pm, and snow after 3pm). 

We’ll also provide some prompts for an early Spring search inside the greenhouse and among the mosses and early spring sights in the Pinetum.  With very cold weather expected, our self-guided scavenger hunt in the Pinetum will require your warmest fairy costumes and wildest imaginations.  There is so much to see when you practice looking closely.  We’ll help you find the spots to watch for big bright changes to come.  The Montgomery Pinetum provides much inspiration for family exploring.  Pre-registration required:  PRE-REGISTER HERE, $20 per child supports our growing Gardening for Stewardship Enrichment program.  Hope to see you then!