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 Challenges | As the garden grows… | 3.10.15

“As the garden grows, so too shall the gardener”

How are those little lettuce plants doing out there?  We wonder how things are growing during week two of the Green Schools Lettuce Challenge.  Do you feel like you have green thumbs? Did you have any extra worries or troubles with snow days and weekends?

At the First Annual Buttercrunch Awards on April19th, judges will be looking at the shape and health of your three lettuce plant entries to award special plants with the Green Thumbs award.  We’ll send you a specific list of guidelines for excellence in horticulture soon.  In the meantime, did you know they will also be awarding Green Minds awards, Green Hearts awards, and that we’ll be recognizing classrooms for cultivating the Growth Mindset?

How do you know if you’re eligible for one of these honors?  Lettuce tell you a story…

The Power of Plants to Cultivate the Growth Mindset

Here at the GEC greenhouse we learn along side each other.  Gardening is about learning to communicate with plants, soil, and each other.  We’ve learned some tips from our local schools*** on how to care for plants.  In this story of our plants, we’re figuring out that having green thumbs is not about growing everything perfectly.  It’s pretty normal to have gardening problems along the way, and to feel discouraged, especially when we’re first starting out.

*** Look for the elements of the Greenwich Public School, Safe School Climate, District Norms below http://www.greenwichschools.org/page.cfm?p=11143

Lettuce Tell you a Story:  The Speckles

We planted some special “speckled” plants out there in the deliveries, maybe you’ll see them?  Here’s the story of how they got there.

We have volunteers we can always count on to be here:  They show up regularly, observe changes, look, we learn the signs of a plant in distress, wilting, noticing bugs, looking at the soil, leaves, feeling the temperature of the air, the ground, watching the weather in our environment.  It's how we knew we could help green schools with the lettuce challenge, it's what we do, for fun.  We enjoy taking care of plants, and connecting plants to people.  So we planted hundreds of lettuce seeds for Green Schools.
We have volunteers we can always count on to be here: They show up regularly, observe changes, look, we learn the signs of a plant in distress, wilting, noticing bugs, looking at the soil, leaves, feeling the temperature of the air, the ground, watching the weather in our environment. It’s how we knew we could help green schools with the lettuce challenge, it’s what we do, for fun. We enjoy taking care of plants, and connecting plants to people.
So we planted and nurtured hundreds of lettuce seeds for Green Schools.
So we planted and nurtured hundreds of lettuce seeds for Green Schools.
The Power of Plants
GREEN SPACE awards are for individuals and groups who encourage growth and the growth mindset in their classrooms and community
  After a week, we noticed one tray with nothing happening, and one with very disappointing germination rates.  To keep plants safe and healthy, we have to be honest, if we worry something does not look right, or suspect a plant is struggling, we ask someone who might know.  The internet is a great resource, but usually we start with the person next to us.  Our volunteers have a lot of experience and knowledge, and many books in the GEC library, but they also have mentors that they can ask.  We can always ask our Director of Horticulture, Lisa Beebe.
After a week, we noticed one tray with nothing happening. To keep plants safe and healthy, we have to be honest, if we worry something does not look right, or suspect a plant is struggling, we ask someone who might know. The internet is a great resource, but usually we start with the person next to us. Our volunteers have a lot of experience and knowledge, and many books in the GEC library, but they also have mentors that they can ask. We can always ask our Director of Horticulture, Lisa Beebe.
Green Minds
GREEN MINDS awards are for people who display that they can look up and ask a friend, speak up with concerns or comments, and share resources.
P1040557
We took a closer look as asked, “why did this happen?” Some may have been under-watered, then over-watered. Some days we could not come into to check on them because of the weather. It’s okay to say, “I don’t know.”  To care for self and others, require hands on effort, as often as possible, adding water when you need it, creating microclimates when the temperature is not right, removing pests or weeds, and providing shade, fresh water, or soil amendments when your plant is saying, “help.”
Green thumbs
GREEN THUMB awards are for excellent plants, but also for people who make the extra effort to care for their plants in special ways. They might make many mistakes too, but they just keep trying until they get it right: experimenting, working, and working harder, communicating with plants and people.
Sometimes even when you have all this, you need to let go and move on.    In any case, we had to plant more seeds!
Sometimes, you need to let go and move on. Here’s another tray with poor germination. Maybe our soil mix was too heavy? Maybe our seed packet was expired? In any case, we had to plant more seeds, or there wouldn’t be enough.
Green Hearts
GREEN HEARTS awards are for those who have to start over. It is not easy to do, but when you spend time with plants, you get to practice this over and over. Every spring you start again, and every day you have new challenges. It’s why we love it!
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When we planted again, some of those second round of seeds were a buttercrunch variety called “speckles.” If you notice one or more of your plants has red speckles on the leaves, it’s a treasure, a part of this story. Enjoy!

For anyone who has struggled over snow days or weekends, or had a tough start, don't be afraid to reach out, we have extra lettuce seedlings up for grabs.  We planted them "Just in case" for the greenest of hearts who need to move on, and are courageous enough to try again.  Just ask!
For anyone who has struggled over snow days or weekends, or had a tough start, don’t be afraid to reach out, we have extra lettuce plants up for grabs. We planted them “Just in case” for the greenest of hearts who need to move on, and are courageous enough to try again. Just ask!

To cultivate the growth mindset together, let’s be honest when we need help, reach out and let us know if you have questions, and number one rule, HAVE FUN!

COMING UP…

  • Over the next few weeks we’ll be sending you simple tips and stories to help you communicate with your plants in new ways, and we encourage you to share yours here, and record them as poster entries, stories, or comics.  Judges will be looking closely at poster entries at the Buttercrunch Awards for candidates for Green Thumbs, Green Hearts, and Green Minds awards.
  • To ask questions or to schedule a GEC visit to your school contact youth.director@gecgreenwich.org with some possible dates/times.  You’ll see a demo of transplanting seedlings, view water moving through soil in the recycled pop-bottle planter, and meet some interesting characters in our prezi, who can help you communicate with plants.  We can bring a 20 minute presentation for three classrooms, followed by 30 minutes rotating through a variety of Lettuce Play! stations.
  • To be honest, we are a little behind on getting out information, thanks for your patience on our first time around.  You can expect another story about the technology we use in our greenhouse, very soon.
  • Don’t miss this weekend’s Family Nature Play workshop on winter energy and permaculture. We’re making solar ovens in the workshop, and giving greenhouse technology tours.  Thanks for your support!  Together we are planting seeds for lifelong learning, healthy living, and good stewardship.

Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward. -Henry Ford

Lettuce Challenge Calendar

Dear Participants,

We’ll be posting updates and resources on this site, and counting down to important dates with reminders.

Timeline:
December 15………. Invitation to School Administrators & Curriculum Advisors
January 6th…………..Invitation to teachers, Recruit participating groups
January 16th…………..Last day to register student groups
January-February….Sow and Nurture lettuce plugs at GEC
February 25-27th…..Deliver lettuce plugs and supplies to schools (GPS break, Feb 9-13)
~Six weeks to tend to plants~
April 8-10……………..Pick up Select Plants and optional poster submissions from schools, setup Viewing Garden at GEC
April 13-17……………Plants on display in GEC Garden (During GPS Spring Break, during GEC office hours)
April 18/19……………Setup Awards Gallery in GEC Auditorium
April 19, 2-4 pm…….Third Sunday Nature Play related activities and Awards Ceremony in GEC Auditorium
April 20………………..Plants donated to GEC garden or compost or returned to students

To print this calendar CLICK HERE: