Cabbage

Connor Tobias and his cabbage. “I was crazy shocked at how big it could get,’’ he said. “I didn’t think it could grow that big.’’

The prized cabbage never had a chance to make it big in a Runza sandwich.

“We were growing it for size,’’ says Connor Tobias, a fourth-grader at Bennington Elementary School. “The plant itself wasn’t in great shape at the end.’’

Tobias won a $1,000 scholarship from vegetable and herb producer Bonnie Plants for cultivating an 11.4-pound cabbage.

Last year, Anna Clements of Omaha grew a 30-pound, 13-ounce whopper.

The award was part of Bonnie Plants’ national third-grade cabbage program, which last school year invited more than a million third-graders across the U.S. to grow colossal cabbages for fun and profit. More than 5,000 Nebraska students participated.

The program awards a $1,000 scholarship to one student in each participating state. At the end of the season, teachers from each third-grade class select the student who has grown the “best” cabbage, based on size, appearance and other factors that constitute a competitive cabbage. The final winner is chosen through random selection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Connor was at first disappointed that he didn’t get to spend part of his prize on his first phone. Prompted by his mom, however, he said he would save it for college.

Although the 10-year-old’s cabbage wasn’t as big as last year’s winner, its size still was a surprise.

“I was crazy shocked at how big it could get,’’ Connor said. “I didn’t think it could grow that big.’’

Connor planted the cabbage in a whiskey barrel. By midsummer, he said, you couldn’t see the pot anymore.

He said he did nothing special but water it every day. He got some help from his 6-year-old brother Nathan.

“It was kind of a family effort,’’ mom Amy said.

The plant was so big that a family of mice found a home under its leaves.

At the end, it was pocked by bug bites, Connor said.

“If we had picked it earlier, we could have had a nice salad,’’ he said.

Or maybe some Runza sandwiches. Connor's 11.4-pounder would make 76 of the Nebraska specialty, says director of marketing Becky Perrett.

Marjie is a writer for The World-Herald’s special sections and specialty publications, including Inspired Living Omaha, Wedding Essentials and Momaha Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @mduceyOWH. Phone: 402-444-1034.

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