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 Update | Plants for the new compost bin | 3.30.2015

“Hello lettuce plants!”  I say it every time I enter my dining room, because I’m trying the windowsill lettuce challenge at home.  In fact, many Green Schools volunteers also took home plants to care for, and we are all novices, taking notes on what makes this challenging, fun, and educational.  Two weeks left until the plant and poster pickup for Buttercrunch Awards entries on April 9/10.  Please take a minute to let us know what’s happening on your windowsill:


How’s it growing in your classroom?

For what they are worth, here are some reports from my home experiment and GEC classroom windowsill to yours.

Remember, I’m an amateur gardener, which means to say, I do it for pleasure and enjoyment, and I’m building my skills.  When three brothers visited my home over the weekend, I asked them to check out my windowsill lettuce, because I have fun with these plants, but I also stress about them.  My father and two uncles grew up on a farm in Minnesota, we all get together and talk about soil, and I was lucky they enthusiastically shared their lettuce advice, in case you can relate:

"Your soil is too wet, you need to let it dry out so the roots can get proper air."
“Your soil is too wet, you need to let it dry out a little, so the roots can get proper air.”  <I’ve also heard the advice, lettuce love a lot of water… so you know, it’s a learning process balancing their needs>
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“you need a shoplight, right close to those plants, they are not getting enough light from the window. Their leaves are too light green, but after a couple weeks under the lamp, they’ll darken right up.” <look who went out and bought herself a shoplight, Uncle Larry!”>
"You need to wait for those leaves to turn into a buttercrunch head.  it takes time..."
“You need to wait for those leaves to turn into a buttercrunch head. it takes time…” < I was feeling impatient and anxious for my little plants.>

Hope you enjoy the photos.  I welcome yours too. If any guest parent gardeners stop by your classroom and offer advice, please share 🙂

Meanwhile, in the GEC Classroom, look at this windowsill kale!  Volunteers help with the watering, and toddlers and caregivers help water and prune them on Wednesday mornings as part of Mushrooms.
Meanwhile, in the GEC Classroom, look at this windowsill kale! Volunteers help with the watering, and toddlers and caregivers help water and prune them on Wednesday mornings as part of Mushrooms.
These swiss chard plants have had time time to grow some wonderful colors.
These swiss chard plants have had time time to grow some wonderful colors.
The great news is, we had some yellow leaves, and got to feed them to our vermicomposting bin last week.  FUN!
The great news is, we had some yellow leaves, and got to feed them to our vermicomposting bin last week. FUN!
If you have plants that don't make it, it's not the end, by any means.  We'll pick up the soil and soggy or dried out leaves and serve them to our worms in our classroom bin, or put them in our brand NEW Volunteer-Master-Composter-built pallet bin.
If you have plants that don’t make it, it’s not the end, by any means. We’ll pick up the soil and soggy or dried out leaves and serve them to our worms in our classroom bin, or put them in our brand NEW Volunteer-Master-Composter-built pallet bin.
Either way, they'll get turned into fresh compost, by a community of nature's recyclers, and they'll be a great addition when we start up more lettuce seeds.  You can even compost the pots we planted them in.
Either way, they’ll get turned into fresh compost, by a community of nature’s recyclers, and they’ll be a great addition when we start up more lettuce seeds. You can even compost the pots we planted them in.
I love a fresh start, don't you?  Here's a sprout in our greenhouse vermicomposting bin
I love a fresh start, don’t you? Here’s a sprout in our greenhouse vermicomposting bin.  Can you spot the red wiggler worm?

If you are interested in borrowing a worm bin to see how it all works, contact me at youth.director@gecgreenwich.org.  I can bring you a presentation on vermicomposting, or you can just borrow a bin for a week and see what happens!

Thanks for answering our poll above!