Stevia Surprise!

A while back, I gave up sugar (for most of the time, anyway!).  As I’m a gardener, it seemed crazy not to try growing stevia, the sweeter-than-sweet herb alternative to the dreaded white crystals. In a frenzy of excitement, I placed my order with my seed supplier, but when I began to read up on the plant and how to grow it, giving up sugar sounded easy in comparison!

For a start, stevia likes to germinate in temperatures around 21-24 degrees C. (that means a heat pad in my part of the world). The seed likes to be sown on top of fine soil (light is important for its germination) but it mustn’t dry out (so it has to be covered with plastic). And it can take up to two weeks to germinate (I made a mental note to cancel any appointments that would take me out of the house for the next 14 days!).

To be honest, the process sounded so demanding, and with so little chance of success, I almost gave up before I started, especially as I live a long way from anywhere else and didn’t have so much as a teaspoon of seed raising mix in the house. Then again, I didn’t have any sugar either, and nor did I plan to buy any. In desperation, I sieved some compost, filled an old container with it, and sprinkled the seed on top. Some plastic cling-wrap covered the lot, and I sat the container on a seed raising pad. And you know what? In THREE DAYS tiny green seedlings appeared.

Really tiny!

Really tiny!

I couldn’t believe my eyes. The only problem now is that I can’t leave the house for 8 weeks – that’s how long it’s going to take before my stevia seedlings are ready to transplant into the garden (or, in my case, into a pot that can sit on the window ledge all summer) and, until that stage, I’m keeping guard on them. After all, surely this kind of success rate (they all germinated) has to be a fluke!  Stay tuned as the weeks pass, and if you have any stevia questions, I’ll be right here to answer them (as I said, I’m not going anywhere in a hurry!).

 

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