Giant cabbage wins third-grader $1K scholarship |

Giant cabbage wins third-grader $1K scholarship

Ella Talmon poses with the oversized cabbage she grew. The cruciferous vegetable measured nearly two feet wide.
Special to R-C |

Growing a cabbage measuring just shy of two feet from end-to-end won Gardnerville Elementary school third-grader Ella Talmon best in Nevada in the Bonnie Plants Third Grade Cabbage Program.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Ella. “I was jumping up and down, laughing and smiling. I was so excited.”

Ella participated in the Bonnie Plants Third Grade Cabbage Program with more than 1.5 million third-graders in 48 states. Participants received hands-on gardening experience by growing colossal cabbages.

“It took a moment for everything to process when I got the phone call that she had won,” said Linda Talmon, Ella’s mother. It was announced Ella won Jan. 6. “We kind of forgot it was even a competition.”

Cabbages are deemed best in state based on size and appearance. Best in state winners receive a $1,000 scholarship toward education from Bonnie Plants.

Talmon said she was a little nervous when Ella brought home the cabbage.

“I thought it was a great project the kids were able to participate in and Ella was so excited about it,” said Talmon. “I was worried though, because I have a brown thumb. So I was worried it would die and she would be disappointed, but she kept it alive and took care of it.”

Ella did everything she could to keep her cabbage happy and thriving. She brought it inside when it was too windy and moved it to the shade when it was too sunny.

“It was a little scary in the beginning,” she said. “I was afraid that any little thing would make it wilt and die. I was surprised to see it grow and grow everyday.”

Ella said the best part about the project was learning about the cabbage and how to grow it. It also gave her something to do and look forward to during the summer.

“It was a family project,” said Talmon. “Ella took care of it and watered it, but as a family we were all part of watching it grow.”

Joan Casanova of Green Earth Media Group with Bonnie Plants said the cabbage program began in 1996 with a mission to inspire a love of vegetable gardening in young people and grow the next generation of gardeners. O.S. Cross variety cabbages, known for producing oversized heads, are used in the program.

“Third graders are a good age for the program,” she said.“I think that’s because in order to grow a cabbage successfully you have to tend to it and nurture it. If they’re too young they might not take on that responsibility and interest and it might not grow. Third-graders are at the age where they are more likely to understand the responsibility and take it on.”

She said schools participate by registering on the Bonnie Plants website. Cabbages are delivered to schools and children have from June through August to grow their cabbage.

“They start off small, big enough to fit in a small cup,” said Casanova. “There is no specific size or requirements during the competition and specific parameters and weights are never authenticated. It is simply the child’s job to make it grow and keep it alive.”

She said growing the cabbage provides confidence, self-satisfaction and responsibilities within the child.

“It’s incredibly awesome that these kids are able to grow these cabbages on their own,” said Casanova.

Bonnie and Livingston Paulk started the cabbage program out of their backyard at their Alabama home, according to the Bonnie Plants website. Cabbages were the first profitable crop sold by the company. Since the competition’s inception the largest cabbage grown weighed 75 pounds.

For more information about Bonnie Plants or to participate in the third grade cabbage program visit