Cash for Cabbages

A local student’s green thumb has won him some “green” from a national seed company.

In the 2015 Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program, the cabbage grown by Patrick Childers, a student at St. Vincent de Paul Parish School in Wheeling, was chosen randomly as the winner by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture. Patrick’s prize is a $1,000 savings bond toward his education from Bonnie Plants.

“I couldn’t really say anything. I was just so stunned,” said 10-year-old Patrick regarding his reaction to winning.

Nationwide, 1.5 million third-graders in 48 states grew cabbages as part of the program. A winner was selected randomly in each state. In West Virginia, 4,962 children participated. Each year since 2002, Bonnie Plants trucks free the cabbage plants to third-grade classrooms whose teachers have signed up for the program online at

If nurtured and cared for, according to Bonnie Plants, kids can cultivate, nurture and grow giant cabbages, some bigger than a basketball. The cabbages used for the third-grade program are OS Cross, which are known for producing giant, oversized heads, making the process even more exciting for kids.

“It was getting bigger and bigger. We took pictures to see how much it grew,” said Patrick, now a fourth-grader. He said he grew his solitary cabbage in his family’s backyard garden alongside tomatoes, carrots and peppers. After harvesting it, his family made cole slaw, which Patrick said he “kind of” liked.

“I am both proud of Patrick for the determination to continue this project outside of school and proud of our students willing to utilize what they learn in the classroom in a real world setting through this program,” said Lori Buchanan, Patrick’s fourth-grade teacher.

“The Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program is a wonderful way to engage children’s interest in agriculture, while teaching them not only the basics of gardening, but the importance of our food systems and growing our own,” said Stan Cope, president of Bonnie Plants. “This unique, innovative program exposes children to agriculture and demonstrates, through hands-on experience, where food comes from. The program also affords our youth with some valuable life lessons in nurture, nature, responsibility, self-confidence and accomplishment.”

The Bonnie Plants Cabbage program is free to any third-grade classroom in the country. Teachers can register at Bonnie Plants will truck 2-inch cabbage plants to every registered classroom; delivery will be scheduled based on geographic region.

Get Growing

Growing a colossal cabbage may seem like a giant undertaking for young kids, but it’s easier than you think. All you need to do is:

– Let the Sunshine In: Cabbages need at least six hours of full sunlight, more if possible.

– Survey Your Space: 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.

– Supplement Soil: Work some compost into the soil – cabbages love nutrient-rich soil.

– Feed Your Food Plant: Start your cabbage off right with an all-purpose vegetable fertilizer, then fertilize it every 10 days to keep it growing strong.

– Water Wisely: Your cabbage needs at least 1 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 gets below 32 degrees, cover your cabbage with a bucket or cloth.

– Hefty Harvest: In just 10 to 12 weeks, you should have a huge head of cabbage of which you can be proud.

Source: Bonnie Plants