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Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

Plant Parts Salad

Lesson Description:
After making a delicious salad, students create a root-top garden out of radish, carrot, turnip and beet tops. Eco-Fact: Food scraps account for 11.2% of landfill weight, amounting to 25.9 million tons of food waste produced in the U.S. Procedure:
Salad Recipe:
  1. Leaves: Begin by washing the lettuce or spinach leaves, and then pat the leaves dry. Cut or tear them into bite size pieces and place them in a bowl. 
  2. Roots: Wash the radishes and carrots. Cut the vegetables into circles. Ask the class if they notice a difference in color from the outside to the inside. Be sure to save the tops of the vegetables. 
  3. Stems: Then wash and cut the celery or asparagus stems into one-inch pieces. Ask the class if they can see the tubes in the stem. Then ask a student what they think the tubes are for. They carry water and nutrients from the roots of the plant to the leaves. 
  4. Seeds and Fruit: Wash the tomato and cucumber. Slice into circles or wedges. Ask the class what are in the inside of the fruit? Cucumbers and tomatoes have many seeds on the inside. Then ask the class what other fruit or vegetable has seeds on the inside. 
  5. Flower: Wash and cut cauliflower or broccoli florets. 
  6. Once the vegetables are washed and cut, arrange them in a large bowl. Sprinkle sesame or sunflower seeds on top and enjoy!
Root-Top Garden: 
  1. Gather the tops of the radishes and carrots, reserved from making the salad. Turnip and beet tops work great as well. 
  2. Carefully puncture a few holes in the bottom of the aluminum pan with a pair of scissors or pencil point, so water can drain out. 
  3. Add a 2-inch layer of soil to the pan. 
  4. Then place the root tops in the soil with their cut bottoms down. Be sure to trim the tops, leaving at least an inch of leaf stems. 
  5. Place the garden in a sunny window, keeping the soil evenly moist. 
  6. Students can observe the garden to watch for leaves and small roots to grow.

Lesson Type:
  • Project

Sustainability Topic:
  • Gardening

GEF Program Category:
  • Green Thumb Challenge

Time Needed:
50 minutes
Materials Needed:
  • Large Bowl 
  • 12 lettuce or spinach leaves
  • 4 radishes 
  • 2 carrots 
  • 2 tomatoes 
  • 2 cucumbers 
  • 4 celery or asparagus stems 
  • Cauliflower or broccoli florets 
  • Toasted sesame or sunflower seeds 
  • Knife for cutting vegetables 
  • 1 aluminum pie pan or take out container
  • Scissors or pencil
  • Soil
  • Water

School or Group:
Green Education Foundation (GEF)
Contact Email:

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