Aztec student wins NM cabbage contest - Albuquerque Journal

Aztec student wins NM cabbage contest

Aztec third-grader Emma Reidhead was the New Mexico winner for the national Bonnie Plants cabbage contest. Her cabbage weighed more than 37 pounds. (Courtesy of Bonnie Plants)

You won’t find a cabbage like this in the grocery store.

Aztec student Emma Reidhead grew a really big cabbage – so big that the New Mexico Department of Agriculture named her the state winner of a national contest that provides cabbage seedlings to third-graders.

Emma, 9, is now in fourth grade. She planted the O.S. Cross cabbage in April. It took four months of careful gardening to grow the plant, which weighed in at 37.4 pounds.

“We had to put a little fence around the cabbage so the turkeys from the farm next door wouldn’t eat it,” Emma said. “It was cold in April, so I put warm water bottles and a blanket over the cabbage.”

More than 9,000 New Mexico third-graders and more than 1 million third-graders in the nation grew cabbages this year as part of the Bonnie Plants program.

Bonnie Plants started the program in 1996 to “grow the next generation of gardeners.”

Each year, the company donates oversized cabbage seedlings to third-grade classrooms. Teachers can sign up for the free program at bonniecabbageprogram.com.

Emma will receive a $1,000 savings bond toward education from Bonnie Plants. She is on the leadership team at McCoy Avenue Elementary School, where she helps fellow students make friends.

“I want to be a nurse or an orthodontist when I grow up,” she said.

Her teacher, Cynthia Gustamantes, selected Emma’s cabbage as the best in the class based on size and appearance. The young gardener’s name was then submitted to the state agriculture office, which drew her name out of the hundreds of New Mexico students who had grown the best cabbages at their schools.

“I’ve grown cucumbers, tomatoes and cantaloupe before, but this was my first time growing cabbage,” Emma said. “We have a friend who is a gardener, and he gave me advice on using hay, Miracle-Gro and chicken manure for the cabbage.”

What did Emma and her family make with the giant cabbage? Jars and jars of sauerkraut.

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