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Willie and the Salad Bonanza Contest 

Willie and the Salad Bonanza is a contest open to elementary, middle and high school teams, along with other K-12 community organizations such as 4-H, scouts, FFA or other teams, interested in the scientific principles surrounding plant growth. The challenge is for teams of four individuals to grow the largest amount of Space Hybrid spinach, Lacinato kale, and Black-Seeded Simpson lettuce in the same container using no more than five-gallons of growing medium over a 50-day time span and document this effort.

Overview and Timeline

Aug. 15 to Sept. 15 — Registration

Registration is free. The last day to register is planting day, Sept. 15. 

Sept. 15 — Begin planting seeds

Following registration, contestants will be sent seeds(or sponsor may come by K-State Olathe to pick up seeds) for three different types of salad greens. At least one seed from each plant variety must survive to judging day, Oct. 31. Contestants/teams may decide how many total seeds they would like to plant and cultivate. All seeds, regardless of variety, must be grown in the same container (see the Contest Rules document for container dimensions).

Nov. 3 — Contest judging

Contest judging will be November 3, 2018, at K-State Olathe. The Cultural Practices document, which is required for the entry's consideration, is due with the entry and will be used as a tiebreaker. 

Nov. 10 — Winners announced

Once judging is complete, a plaque for the school or organization with all team member names will be awarded for the top entries in each of the three levels: Grade K-5, 6-8 and 9-12. All who participate will receive a certificate of participation.

Contest Documents

Contest Rules (pdf)

• Cultural Practices (pdf)

Flyer (pdf)


• K-State Extension in Johnson County

• Planet Natural Research Center

• Tower Garden Challenge

• Black-seeded Simpson lettuce

Lacinato kale

• Space Hybrid spinach

Tips on gardening


Registration closes Sept. 15, 2018.


Register now 


For questions and more information, contact Martha Nowak, K-12 program coordinator, at msnowak@k-state.edu



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Martha Nowak

Martha Nowak

K-12 Program Coordinator