Vegetable gardening teaches kids where food comes from, encourages them to eat their veggies and gets them outdoors, engaging with nature.
Since 1996, Bonnie Plants has been helping to get kids started in the garden with its national Third Grade Cabbage Program. In the free program, Bonnie's O.S. Cross cabbage seedlings are delivered to any third-grade classroom in the country's 48 contiguous states.
The O.S. in the name stands for "oversized," and the prospect of growing a super-size cabbage makes the program not only educational, but engaging and fun for kids. Cabbages were the first successful crop sold by Bonnie in 1918, so a cabbage was a natural choice when Bonnie Plants began cultivating young growers in schools 19 years ago.
Each spring, Bonnie Plants trucks 2-inch cabbage seedlings to every participating third-grade classroom. Teaches distribute the plants, with instructions provided by Bonnie, for students to take home and grow.
Third-grade teachers can register for the cabbage program now to participate for the 2017 growing season. Register at BonnieCabbageProgram.com. Lessons from the cabbage program can be incorporated into a variety of subjects, including science, mathematics and writing.
At the end of the growing season, teachers select a class winner, based on the size, appearance and maturity of the young grower's cabbage. School submissions are then entered in a statewide scholarship drawing. The 48 state winners are randomly selected by each state’s director of agriculture, and Bonnie Plants awards a $1,000 savings bond for education to the winning student in each state.
Since the program began, more than 14 million kids have participated. The largest cabbage grown to date weighed in at 75 pounds. For a variety of gardening tips and more information on Bonnie Plants, visit BonniePlants.com.
Here are tips from Bonnie Plants for anyone who would like to grow colossal cabbage:
Keep things sunny: Cabbages need at least six hours of full sunlight, more if possible.
Make room: Bonnie O.S. cabbages need at least 3 feet on each side to spread out. If you don’t have that much space, use a large container.
Amend the soil: Work in some compost when planting; cabbages thrive in nutrient-rich soil.
Feed them well: Start your cabbage off right with an all-purpose vegetable fertilizer, then fertilize it every 10 days to keep it growing strong.
Water well: Cabbage needs at least one inch of rainfall each week. If it doesn’t rain, use a watering can or garden hose to gently water your plant at soil level.
Tend to trouble: Keep weeds out of the cabbage patch – they compete for the food and water your cabbage needs. Be on the lookout for brown or white moths – these come from worms that love to munch on cabbage. If you see any, get rid of them right away. Cold weather can damage your cabbage. If the weather drops below 32 degrees, cover your cabbage with a bucket or cloth.
Reap your reward: In 10 to 12 weeks, you should have a huge head of cabbage you can be proud of.