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.

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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.

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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

 

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Lettuce Challenge Registration

Greenwich 2nd graders can register to adopt and tend to lettuce plants for six weeks, as part of the Fairchild Challenge at the GEC, and participate in community showcase at the Garden Education Center in Cos Cob, CT.

Be sure to check our NEWS & UPDATES PAGE for Buttercrunch Awards 2016, CLICK HERE.

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Timing for Greenwich Lettuce Challenge 2016

  • Final school enrollment deadline will be Wednesday, March 23, 2016, 5:00 pm
  • Two ways to register:
    • School online registration, NOW OPEN, click here to register online.  
    • In-person school registrationlettucechallengecalendar.  We will be available to help you and answer questions on March 23, 3:30-5:00 pm at the GEC, 130 Bible Street, Cos Cob.  Please RSVP to youth.director@gecgreenwich.org
  • Plant plug pickup for pre-registered schools, Wednesday, May 4, 2016, at the GEC, 10:00 am-4:00 pm
  • Finalists, deliver three plants per school to the GEC, June 15th, 9am-1pm, with entry forms
  • Showcase and Buttercrunch Awards, Wednesday June 15, 2016 at 4:00 p.m. in the Garden Education Center Gallery.
  • The GEC is seeking 2016 Buttercrunch Awards sponsors and volunteers, please email youth.director@gecgreenwich.org for additional information.

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During the Lettuce Challenge, you can always click on the Lettuce Challenge logo on our front page to go directly to our news page where you will find registration links and common questions, and sponsorship and volunteer opportunities.

 

 

Introducing Gardening for Stewardship Enrichment

Here’s a photo summary from our summer adventures.

This afternoon at Third Sunday Nature Play we’ve got supplies for you and your family to do some storytelling with small clothespin people and view our materials from Summer School Programs.  Take a self-guided Quest in the Pinetum, with a handmade map from our Sprouts.

Do you ever stop to look closely at the variety of life thriving in the smallest green spaces: the cracks in the sidewalk, storefront container gardens, and green corridors next to your school-ground ballfields?  What if you were less than six inches tall?  Do you think you might notice more?
Do you ever stop to look closely at the variety of life thriving in the smallest green spaces: the cracks in the sidewalk, storefront container gardens, and green corridors next to your school-ground ball-fields? What if you were less than six inches tall? Do you think you might notice more?    [photo:  onsite clothespin people at the GEC dipping their feet in the soil, among the peas and lettuce]
This summer we challenged PreK-3rd graders to not only look closer at plants and how they function, but to change their perspective to that of a small Earthling, a clothespin person, and use plants as building blocks in careful imaginative play and design.
This summer we challenged PreK-3rd graders to not only look closer at plants and how they function, but to change their perspective to that of a small clothespin person, and use plants as building blocks in careful imaginative play and design. [photo:  Sprouts and their characters in our onsite program finding a home in the Nasturtiums and Sorrel]
Our Earthlings learn how to predict the weather, design parks and gardens, build with plant-based materials, and even farm their own small parcels of land.  They are decked out in original nature-based clothes and tools that the kids make.  They are unique and so much fun.
We learn how to predict the weather, design parks and gardens, build with plant-based materials, and even farm our own small parcels of land. We create small stewards, decked out in original nature-based clothes and tools that the Sprouts kids make. They are unique and so much fun.  [photo:  we greet oregano and thyme as part of the petting zoo in a summer school garden]
Students and Earthlings played with ideas and then with hands-on games, for an inquiry into how water moves through soil, how microclimates work, how to watch shade and sun, and measure precipitation, and how to help different plants thrive day to day.  During our first use of the Garden Towers, we grew so much together!   (Tower Garden week 6)
Students and small clothespin stewards play with ideas and with hands-on games.  We do an inquiry into how water moves through soil, how microclimates work, how to watch shade and sun, and measure precipitation, and how to help different plants thrive day to day. During our first use of the Garden Towers, we grew so much together!
[photo:  Hamilton Avenue School Tower Garden week 6]
 The Sprouts & Seedlings and their Earthlings spent time each week, observing growth around them and having fun with plants.    (Our tower garden at week 2)
The Sprouts & Seedlings and their clothespin stewards spent time each week, observing growth around them and having fun with plants.
[photo:  Hamilton Avenue School tower garden at week 2, with a guest plant petting zoo on the windowsill, ready for our demo]
Thanks to a grant awarded to the Greenwich Public Schools by the Greenwich Alliance for Education, students and their earthlings were introduced to a wide range of plants.
Thanks to a grant awarded to the Greenwich Public Schools by the Greenwich Alliance for Education, students were introduced to a wide range of plants.  [photo:  our tower garden sign, in a jungle of fragrant Lemon Verbana and Lemongrass]
Fifty-four edible plants were nurtured in vertical gardens (Garden Tower 2) on summer school school grounds, and educators brought in additional plants, from around the neighborhood, local school pollinator gardens, public green spaces, and the Garden Education Center greenhouse. (Golden Pear Tomatoes)
Fifty-four edible plants, all originally grown from seed in the Garden Education Center greenhouse by our dedicated volunteers, were nurtured in vertical gardens.   We used the Garden Tower 2 on summer school school grounds, and educators brought in additional plants, from around the neighborhood, local school pollinator gardens, public green spaces, and the GEC greenhouse. [photo:  Heirloom Yellow Pear Tomatoes growing in the tower]
This has been a wonderful summer for imaginative exploring in our green spaces.  Thanks to our enthusiastic participants! (Designing gardens and spaces with plants and plant parts)
This has been a wonderful summer for imaginative exploring in our green spaces. Thanks to our enthusiastic participants! [photo:  Designing gardens and green spaces with plants and plant parts, and compostable donations from Whole Foods]
"I liked when we played games like putting hay next to the plants"- Brian (borage, geraniums, & marigolds blooming)
“I liked when we played games like putting hay next to the plants”- Brian [borage, geraniums, blue basil & marigolds blooming in the tower]
"I liked when we all got wet with the spray bottles.  My favorite activity was when we all went outside to draw plants." -Vinny (strawberries)
“I liked when we all got wet with the spray bottles. My favorite activity was when we all went outside to draw plants.” -Vinny
[brilliant jewels, Strawberries in the tower]
"My favorite activity was when we made our earthlings and the mud pie.  I liked when we saw the plants."-Jeff
“My favorite activity was when we made our [clothespin people] and the mud pie. I liked when we saw the plants.”-Jeff [photo:  mud pies]
"I learned so much about different plants that I didn't know.  My favorite activity was doing the mud pie, it was really fun and my other favorite activity when when you showed us to move the water with the stick.  I liked when you showed us the little garden and when you were so nice to come and to show us about plants." - Nathaly
“I learned so much about different plants that I didn’t know. My favorite activity was doing the mud pie, it was really fun and my other favorite activity when when you showed us to move the water with the stick. I liked when you showed us the little garden and when you were so nice to come and to show us about plants.” – Nathaly [photo:  how long is the geranium today?  Using clothespin stewards as a measuring tool]
"Thank you for teaching plants and weather. My favorite activity was draw a picture plants." -Haruyuki
“Thank you for teaching plants and weather. My favorite activity was draw a picture plants.” -Haruyuki   [photo:  Jackson draws himself among “the community of plants]
"Thank you for showing us the garden and showing us how it can grow.  I liked when we spread the plants and we feel the spicky plants."
“Thank you for showing us the garden and showing us how it can grow. I liked when we spread the plants and we feel the spicky plants.” [photo:  constructing mini gardens with compostables]
"I appreciate you spending your time to teach us.  We had a lot of fun. Thank you"  -Ellen (Ms. D brought news and stories from the JC Kindergarten gardens and pollinator gardens)
“I appreciate you spending your time to teach us. We had a lot of fun. Thank you” -Ellen
(photo:  Ms. D brought photos, news and stories other school gardens, and the GEC learning garden.  Here:  A clothespin steward in the JC Kindergarten gardens)
"We had fun.  My favorite part was everything I learned about plants." -Samantha (a surprise cicada visitor)
“We had fun. My favorite part was everything I learned about plants.” -Samantha
[photo:  a surprise cicada visitor at the base of a tomato plant in the Cos Cob tower garden]
"My favorite part was when you took us outside to study plants." - Luke
“My favorite part was when you took us outside to study plants.” – Luke  [photo:  Mushroom Toddler groups onsite at the GEC Learning Garden, harvesting carrots with their small stewards, dressed in raffia and greens]
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“Thank you for teaching us. P.S. The wheat and sunflower are doing great and growing.” – Stephanie  [photo:  comic challenge to put your small steward in story, using a plant setting.  Sophia’s steward says, “Can’t wait to grind the wheatgrass!”
About the new Gardening for Stewarship Enrichment Program:

We piloted the Gardening for Stewardship Enrichment Program during the summer in the GEC Learning Garden and Montgomery Pinetum with the support of 19 Sprouts & Seedlings (age 3-6) onsite, and with our enthusiastic Mushrooms Toddler Group (age 1-3) and their caregivers.  In addition, thanks to a grant awarded to the Greenwich Public Schools from the Greenwich Alliance for Education, we were able to bring the Gardening for Stewardship Enrichment pilot to 168 Sprouts & Seedlings in our school Outreach at the GPS Summer School Program.

This Enrichment is being offered in the fall to classrooms and after-school programs, to help them explore green spaces in their school grounds, gardens, borrowed classroom composting bins, and windowsills.  Please contact youth.director@gecgreenwich . org for more information, or to volunteer in Second Sunday Teens (age 12-17) for community service hours.

The curriculum was developed as part of Ms. D’s studies at Antioch University in their Nature-Based Early Childhood program.  It was also inspired by a visit to the the Game of Village in Nelson, NH, which is a more complex homesteading with “peeps” geared towards 4th-8th graders.  Their materials are available at http://www.thegameofvillage.com/