I know we discussed herbs just a couple of blogs ago, but since I repotted about 50, four inch, root bound pots of Stevia into six inch pots today, I thought it might be a fun idea to write a little bit about it.
For those of you who are not familiar with Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana), it is an herb just starting to gain attention by the general public in this country. In South America, however, it is commonly used as a natural sweetener. Cane sugar is also a natural sweetener but Stevia is up to 300 times sweeter and has no calories!
I was introduced to Stevia about 6 years ago when I obtained some seeds from Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Maine. It is a quite startling sensation to pick a green leaf off of a potted plant and taste that overwhelming sweetness. In its raw state right off of the plant, I think it has a slightly “green” taste along with the sweetness. After a little preparation, the green taste disappears.
You can purchase Stevia at most health food stores as a powder or liquid, or you can grow your own from seed. It is a tender plant, much like a tomato, so if you grow it outside, treat it like an annual. I find that in the greenhouse it tends to attract whitefly (a common greenhouse pest) more readily than other plants. It commonly grows from 18″ to 30″ tall. You would think that it would look like something really special, but it is a “plain Jane” in the garden and could easily be mistaken for a weed.
Japan and Brazil have regulations banning artificial sweeteners. So instead, the soft drink bottlers in those countries use Stevia for their diet pop. We are talking about companies such as Coke and Pepsi as well as the local brands.
In case you were wondering about the title, Honeyleaf is just another name for Stevia.
Those 50 or so pots of Honeyleaf will eventually be given away as gifts. Those folks will use the leaves to sweeten drinks ( 1 Tbs dry = 1 cup sugar) or brew a cup of Stevia tea.
Gotta go and check on my sweeties,
As Charlie Brown used to say……….A-A-R-R-G-G-H-H!!
Today my handheld PDA died. It has been “acting up” the last few weeks, I had not been able to download entries from it into my computer. You guessed it, I lost a ton of information…all my garden logs since mid October. I’m not prone to being anti-technology but I think I’m going back to using an old fashioned note book. I have to confess it was pretty out dated and should have been replaced, but I still have garden tools that belonged to my Grand parents, and they bought those used!
I’d better keep reading TechBox on blogsmonroe to keep up with this stuff.
Back to pushing a pencil for now,
Actually, there was a lot of sneezing going on. Have you ever tried crushing a one gallon zip lock bag full of dried cayenne pepper and packing the resulting product into tiny containers?
Today we prepared and packed herbs to be given away for people to use for preparing their holiday meals.
There was about a dozen or so packets each of sage, rosemary, cilantro, cayenne, and oregano. We also picked coriander seed this fall, but it is very tedious and time consuming to pick any kind of volume. We ended up with only about a snack-sized zip lock bag full of coriander.
I sowed 2 flats of thyme late in the summer but never got them planted, they have been frozen and snowed on but still look happy outside. I wouldn’t recommend doing it that way. I will probably pot most of them into larger pots sometime during the next couple of weeks. I’m sure we should be able to harvest enough for our personal use later on this winter.
The plan this spring is to expand the number of varieties of herbs we plant.
Freshly dried, home grown herbs are a delight!
Just ask Dave at LunaPierCook on our blogsmonroe site.
Rhyming and thyming,
You get the whole cycle of gardening… planting, growing, harvesting. Yes,ML (comments), I believe sprouting counts as gardening.
This blog is not just for people with gobs of money, fancy greenhouses and stuff. A homemade coldframe for example, can be used in place of a greenhouse well into the fall.
I still have 4 coldframes with lettuce growing in them right now.
Good things from the garden… Bob
Is sprouting gardening? Definitely. There are plants there that are growing and you keep an eye on them till they reach the right stage, and then harvest. That’s gardening. Nutrition wise , it’s loaded.
The sprouter that I have is ingenous. It has five trays set on top of each other. Water is added at the top and floods that top tray, wetting all the seeds. Then the water , thru siphoning action, flows up and down a tube to the next tray and floods that one. Same thing with the third and fourth tray. The fifth tray at the bottom just collects the water until I empty it. This gets done once or twice a day for 3 to 5 days. If the sprouter is put in the sunlight the last day, the sprouts will turn green. The sprouts can be harvested all at once, rinsed well in a colander to get the seed hulls off and stored in the fridg. I would think that the harvest could be staggered but I haven’t tried that. I use brocolli seeds but there are others to choose from.
It’s a lot of fun and does satisfy that need to be tending a growing thing.
Bye for now, Judy
Reader Dave just kicked it up notch! (see comments)
For great garlic:
Highly fertile soil, organic matter, water etc., etc. you heard it all before, but it goes double for garlic. No weeds at all: none,nada, zip, zilch. The big secret is to plant in the fall and mulch in Dec.
…the garlic bulbs that is. Today we mulched our garlic beds. The raised beds we have for vegetable production measure about 5’x9′. Five pounds of garlic bulbs plant six of these beds exactly. We used wheat straw about 6′”-8″ deep to cover these six beds. Four moderately heavy bales did the trick. By the way, these bales of straw were of the most beautiful golden wheat color I have seen in a long time. In a way it was amost a shame to use them for mulch, but that’s what they’re there for. The bright color ensures that we don’t import a new batch of weed seeds from weed stalks that could have been baled up out in the field by the farmer along with the straw. Straw that has lots of different color stems in the bale more than likely are contaminated with weeds.
If you promise not to tell anyone, I”ll let you know the secret to growing super size and delicious garlic. So just let me know if you can “keep it under your hat”, by writing me a short note in the comment section that you like garlic.
Well, now that the garlic bulbs are all tucked in their beds for the winter, I think I’m going to have lunch and take a nap. Bob
So, you say….”what kind of gardening are you doing in the middle of winter?!” Well, you might be surprised. As professional gardeners, Judy and I are working with plants year ’round. Right now I have over 250 Poinsettias in the greenhouse that will be given to folks for Christmas. Some will end up in people’s homes, while the rest will decorate chapels.
Easter Season has also started for me. Easter Lillies need to be potted up soon or there will be no blooms for Easter this year. There is also St. Valentine’s Day to think about, not to mention shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day. The orange trees will be ready to pick soon as well as the bananas.
I’m sure you have been thinking about spring too as the first of the gardening catalogs arrive.
You and I will have a lot of things to talk about in the upcoming days and weeks. Judy has plenty of topics as well. I’m looking forward to talking with you again and encourage you to participate often by posting comments and/or questions.
So, let’s jump right in to the deep end and get started!