Savannah Kinney’s guidelines for taking care of her garden are simple: Be sure to water your plants just the right amount, and keep an eye out for bugs.
It’s that straightforward approach that rewarded 9-year-old Savannah with quite the produce prize: a 29-pound O.S. Cross (“oversized”) cabbage — and $1,000 toward the now-fourth grader’s education.
As a third-grader at Ronald Reagan Elementary in Nampa, Savannah was part of the National Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program, which supplies the seedlings to participating teachers like Savannah’s former teacher, Whitney Milton. For years, every third-grader in the Nampa School District has received a cabbage seedling.
Students have the option to participate in the contest for free, and one student in each of the 48 participating states can win the $1,000 scholarship after submitting a photo with his or her cabbage and winning a randomly selected statewide drawing.
To Savannah, it sounded like a great idea.
“When I heard we could grow the cabbages, I thought, ‘I might do this. This might be fun,’” Savannah says.
Her prize-winning cabbage is the result of 2½ months of fun — and hard work, including releasing ladybugs to combat a pest infestation and adjusting her daily watering schedule to account for weather conditions.
“When I was on vacation, I made sure my grandma watered it every day,” Savannah adds.
And the most fun part?
“I got to grow it on my own,” Savannah says. (With a little help, of course, from her parents, Mindy and Mike Kinney, who built planter boxes, prepped the soil and offered their advice.)
Her diligence paid off in a big way, but Savannah’s dad says the plant could’ve been bigger. The final 29-pound weight was after removing a layer of outer leaves as well as a 3-pound mini-cabbage that had begun to sprout from the behemoth plant.
“We harvested it early,” Mike Kinney says. “It was pushing the other plants around like a big cabbage bully.”
The family also grows lemon cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and a host of flowers and herbs in their backyard garden.
“We’re just basic gardeners, but we try to use the area we have,” says Mike Kinney.
The produce, including Savannah’s cabbage, then makes its way to the family table.
Learn more about the Bonnie Plant Cabbage Program at bonniecabbageprogram.com.