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



Seventeen Syllables to Show Your Support

If you missed May Market at the GEC, you may have missed our big announcement!  Our “find a Poem in the Pinetum” Scavenger hunt walked you through our green space with a challenge to create a haiku – seventeen syllables about “Playing and Growing Outdoors.”

The big news?  This is a fun way for us to announce our upcoming year as Satellite Partners of the Fairchild Challenge.  We’ll be launching four challenges for schools during the 2015-2016 school year.

We’re asking for your support for this new program.  Your $10 donation, within the next 12 hours, comes with a fun haiku contest, and the chance to win $50 cash prizes.  It’s a way for you to show your support and say,

Fairchild Challenge at
the GEC is great news,

If you’d like to walk a virtual scavenger hunt of April Nature Play, here’s the Prezi.  YOUR PREZI MAP


Here’s how to make your $10 donation count right now
Simply go to http://gecgreenwich.org/familynatureplay.html and choose April, so we know you support the Lettuce Challenge and The Fairchild Challenge at the GEC.  If you want to enter our Haiku Contest too, you have until 8pm to make your donation, just enter your haiku in the comments.  Please spread the word!

Have fun with it!

tell us a story
which outdoor games did you play
when you were a kid?

Or to show your support, you can copy and paste:

we like Nature Play
in the garden, the greenhouse,
and the pinetum

your support is key
thanks for following along
on this adventure

The Fairchild Challenge was designed and initiated by Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables (Miami), Florida. FTBG and the Montgomery Pinetum are sister gardens.

For full official haiku contest entry requirements and information CLICK HERE.  Also included are some details about our Summer Introduction to the Fairchild Challenge at the GEC. We’ll be presenting an introductory challenge over the summer with summer school students and teachers (that’s a separate big announcement – more details to come!), and launching the Fairchild Challenge at the GEC in the Fall.

Community Haiku Challenge – for our first anniversary poetry garden

Support G E C
Write a poem for our garden
You could win a prize!

Dear Friends,

One year ago, the GEC announced a series of new nature play programs. We’re taking a reflective pause to look back on how the community has responded, to celebrate with a little poetry, and to THANK YOU!

Thank you to each of you who came with your family to a program, signed up your children for nature-based enrichment, toddled together with us in the Pinetum with the Mushrooms, and supported us with your membership.  We have learned a lot together this first year, and we’re grateful you were a part of it. Thank you to the 26 teachers who welcomed our programs into your classroom, for providing over 520 students the opportunity to nurture a lettuce plant in our first annual Green Schools Lettuce Challenge.  Take a minute to look at some of our local media coverage.

Greenwich Free Press, Leslie Yager, Winning Big in the Lettuce Challenge at Garden Education Center
Greenwich Free Press, Leslie Yager, Winning Big in the Lettuce Challenge at Garden Education Center

To make this first anniversary celebration even more fun, and as an introduction to an exciting Spring Announcement (stay tuned!), we’re sponsoring a poetry challenge.  To register, simply purchase a $10 April Nature Play ticket here:  http://www.gecgreenwich.org/familynatureplay.html  and enter your haiku in the comments.  We’ll enter your poem in our poetry garden, your entry fee will go to support the GEC in our mission to promote conservation, horticulture, and the arts, and your poem could be a winner!  See below for details:

Poetry Garden 2015 Challenge

haiku format:  example
Lettuce grow outside [5 syllables]
Sun, Soil, Water, and Fresh Air [7 syllables]
Take a risk, each Spring [5 syllables]

theme:  playing and growing outside

$50 cash prizes are awarded in three categories: 
please indicate poet’s name and age in the comments
Sprouts:  ages 3-7,
Seedlings:  ages 8-11,
Pollinators:  ages 12-17

entry deadline:  May 8, 2015 8pm

winners will be announced: at May Third Sunday Family Workshop, May 17, 2015 2:00 pm.  Judges will award points based on creativity, use of descriptive vocabulary, and relevance to the theme.

Need some inspiration?  Come to May Market! We’re providing a kids’ coloring and poetry table. Our scavenger hunt in the PInetum will give you clues to playful poems in the Pinetum, and you can use your bonus magnifying glass to look closely at what is growing in the plant sale.


Ms. D

Coming up:  Nature Play with the Family 

May:  Plantable paper for our pollinators, fairies and gnomes, and we’ll see you at the May Market!  (now requiring pre-registration for Third Sunday family workshops at 2 & 3 pm)

June:  mud pies, compost tea, paper airplanes, and mapmaking for Father’s Day, and Sprouts Summer Enrichment!

If you aren’t already a member, we also hope you’ll consider becoming one, or donating to our annual appeal at www.gecgreenwich.org.  To volunteer email, youth . director @gecgreenwich.org.