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



Mushrooms | What’s up little sprouts? | 3.11.2015

Dear Mushrooms,

We’re looking forward to welcoming Mushrooms (age 1-3) and their caregivers tomorrow morning for a special highlight of early growth in the Pinetum and Greenhouse, and special take home edible treats for your windowsill.

What to expect:

We’ll start in the classroom at 9 am to meet and greet friends and see what’s new with our classroom trees and plants.  It’s time to harvest the windowsill kale.

Then, we’re excited to share what we learned from our friends at the recent Greenwich Community Garden workshop.  The GCG hosts an annual Microgreens workshop in the Abilis greenhouse, http://www.greenwichcommunitygardens.org/growing-microgreens-indoor-flavor-garden/

Please take a look http://www.abilis.us/Our-Business/greenhouse.html, and spread the word about what Abilis and GCG offer to our community.  Abilis even offers a home deliver service of their delicious microgreens.  It will be fun to see how your mushrooms can connect to tiny growth, and how it will open our eyes to the Spring growth beginning outside.

a mini forest farm of sweet peas
a mini forest farm of sweet peas

We’ll do a little planting demo (getting our hands dirty) and get to play with soil and seeds and take home our own mini micro gardens.  Then we’ll take a walk to the greenhouse to see what little sprouts are growing there.  It’s warm and sunny and green, and there are little shoots to taste.  We’ll send you home with a windowsill lettuce plant too.  I wonder if we take a walk outside along the path together if we’ll see any similar little sprouts popping up along the trail.

Please pre-register at http://www.gecgreenwich.org/mushrooms.html, and spread the word!

And if you’re interested in microgreens, consider signing up for a Garden Education Center of Greenwich “Cooking with Microgreens” class at the GEC on Thursday, with Sal Gilbertie.  http://www.gecgreenwich.org/0312.html.  Thanks for your support!  Together we’re planting seeds for lifelong learning, healthy living, and good stewardship.

Seeing the smallest growth first hand.  sweet peas in fertile soil.
Seeing the smallest growth first hand. sweet peas, sprouting in fertile soil.

See you soon,

Ms. D

Lettuce Challenge 2.5.2015 Updates & Vacation Workshops


Some important updates and announcements for the lettuce challenge before we part for break, Enjoy!

Greetings from the GEC Greenhouse where the lettuce seeds that were sown by our green schools volunteers are being nurtured by our greenhouse volunteers.   Look!  They are showing some exciting growth.


Here are three opportunities for you to connect to the Lettuce Challenge during the next week:

1.  Second Sunday, Pollinators, February 8th, 2-4pm**

age 12-17 drop in for a build session in the greenhouse.  We’ll be creating these sub-irrigated planters to take home, so you can nurture your own windowsill lettuce plants.  We’re really excited about some of the Pollinator outreach we saw recently.  These creative teens create handmade stamps, signs, maps, and ‘zines for our Family Nature Play scavenger hunts.  Please register online in advance if possible .  $15/session  http://gecgreenwich.org/pollinators.html

handmade stamps and garden design from a pollinator workshop
sub-irrigated recycled pop-bottle planters, to nurture lettuce on your windowsills


2.   Wednesday February 11,  Mushrooms Open House, 9-12 am, age 1-3 with caregivers**

It’s school break, so we’re extending the Nature Play and inviting you to bring your siblings and join a mushrooms open house.  We’ll pre-cut some windowsill planters, exercise our fine motor skills, planting little lettuce seeds, and creating special weavings for valentine’s day.  You’ll get to explore the classroom and Pinetum together.  The snow kitchen will be open, under the trees.  Bring your favorite winter/snow book to share!  Please RSVP to youth.director@gecgreenwich.org

snow kitchen will be open!
snow kitchen will be open!
classroom chores to try, like watering the moss table
classroom chores to try, like watering the moss table
we found some magnolia leaves on the snow. to play with.
we found some magnolia leaves on the snow to play with.

3.  Third Sunday, February 15, Family Nature Play, 2- 4 pm **

Join us in the greenhouse to build a sub-irrigated pop-bottle planters and lettuce seeds to take home.  As always, there will be scavenger hunts and activities to connect new and experienced gardeners to green growth.  We hope you can join us and be a part of our community experiment.  $10/family.  Please pre-register online if possible at  http://gecgreenwich.org/familynatureplay.html

greenhouse icicle art
greenhouse icicle art

**More photos from the greenhouse and more information about the Lettuce Challenge to come.

Thanks for following along and supporting the GEC and Green Schools in this exciting lettuce adventure.  If you are unable to join workshops but would like to support the GEC in our mission to promote horticulture, conservation, and the arts, and our new school outreach programs, please consider becoming a member, or donating to our annual appeal at www.gecgreenwich.org.