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Organic Gardening: Stevia

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notlazy
Danville, IN

January 16, 2010
10:10 PM

Post #7468061

Anyone out there had any experience in raising and harvesting stevia?
gardadore
Saylorsburg, PA
(Zone 6a)

January 20, 2010
2:56 AM

Post #7477961

I grew it one summer from a plant bought locally. it got huge. I understand if the plant flowers it then dies. I enjoyed the sweet leaves which can be ground up to use as sweetener in baked goods. I have not tried to raise any from seeds. It is an annual in my climate. I use powdered stevia in my tea and anything I need to sweeten like cereal. I don't use it in cooking much but that's just laziness on my part. It is very healthy especially is you are diabetic.
ooneek
Asheville, NC

January 22, 2010
7:36 PM

Post #7486056

I grew two plants from seed this past summer and they both grew like gangbusters. One was in an 8" clay pot and the other was in a raised bed in the garden. I watered the pot occasionally and pinched back the buds. There was wasy more stevia leaf than I needed.
msrobin
Caneyville, KY
(Zone 6b)

January 22, 2010
9:56 PM

Post #7486408

Ooneek, how did you use it?
ooneek
Asheville, NC

January 23, 2010
6:54 PM

Post #7488931

I threw it in tea.
msrobin
Caneyville, KY
(Zone 6b)

January 23, 2010
11:50 PM

Post #7489715

Just a fresh leaf or two?
KayJones
Panama City Beach, FL
(Zone 8b)

February 5, 2010
2:11 PM

Post #7531903

Here is a very informative site on how to use Stevia leaves in cooking:

http://www.creativehomesteading.com/articles/stevia_info_sheet.htm
msrobin
Caneyville, KY
(Zone 6b)

February 5, 2010
2:13 PM

Post #7531908

Thanks, Kay.
KayJones
Panama City Beach, FL
(Zone 8b)

February 5, 2010
2:44 PM

Post #7531996

You are welcome. I have this growing in my yard, but have never used it for anything related to eating.
docgipe
NORTH CENTRAL, PA
(Zone 5a)

March 21, 2010
6:08 PM

Post #7646516

Hey there...based on my first year with Stevia grown from seed in pots I sure would not turn it loose in my garden. I had a pot on the edge of the patio where guests could pinch off a leaf or two to experiment with it. Without instructions I pinched the dickens out of it. True it grew like gang busters but was no real problem in a pot. I am germinating seedlings as we speak. I will use at least an eight inch pot this year. Three or four seedlings pinched to keep them as small as possible will be my approach. I grew it in half day sun. When it began to push buds I stripped the leaves.

i dried some last fall and ground it to a granular powder. We used it in tea and I used it for a sugar displacement in sweet breads.

The Stevia product is in the health food stores. I'm just a little kooky. Like to grow some things like this right by the picnic table. Really I just discovered it within the past year.
msrobin
Caneyville, KY
(Zone 6b)

March 21, 2010
6:34 PM

Post #7646583

Hey, Doc! I left mine in a pot last year too. Mainly because it isn't hardy here. Cut it back in the fall and brought it in. It's still doing good.

And I still haven't tried using it. I keep forgetting. Guess I should move it to the kitchen, so I'll remember.
docgipe
NORTH CENTRAL, PA
(Zone 5a)

March 21, 2010
6:43 PM

Post #7646598

Shoot I sent it to the dump. i shall take it in this year if it reminds me to do that. LOL I have a good many new seedlings showing me their first true leaves. I have a month to avoid the last spring frost.
msrobin
Caneyville, KY
(Zone 6b)

March 21, 2010
7:06 PM

Post #7646670

So, I'm guessing as it grows in the summer, we can just give it a good trimming as needed and dry the cuttings in the house, then strip the leaves for future dried use? And use fresh leaves as needed through the summer?
docgipe
NORTH CENTRAL, PA
(Zone 5a)

March 21, 2010
8:31 PM

Post #7646830

Sure...why not. A little of the two ways this plant can be used. My picnic guests are thrilled to do something they for the most part had not even heard of. It is interesting to see them gingerly mouth a green leaf as well as shake some dry ground powder on their hand and taste it.

Then on some occasions I tell them the sweetness in the sweet rolls is Stevia. As to volume of use I use it as an equal with real sugar or other substitute sweeteners. I hardly ever use white sugar so I guess I am some kind of kook in this mater.

The question...What are the leaves in our lemonade? The answer...the two on the bottom are Stevia replacing sugar while the one on top is a mint. That's good for more than a few minutes.
msrobin
Caneyville, KY
(Zone 6b)

March 21, 2010
8:56 PM

Post #7646868

Alrighty then, guess I need to start using it. LOL
docgipe
NORTH CENTRAL, PA
(Zone 5a)

March 22, 2010
11:33 AM

Post #7648033

I like the newer leaves...shall we say half grown. The fully grown leaves take more time to sweeten the drinks. When baking is when I use the older ground up leaves.
msrobin
Caneyville, KY
(Zone 6b)

March 22, 2010
5:55 PM

Post #7648954

Doc, thanks again! Good info to know!
docgipe
NORTH CENTRAL, PA
(Zone 5a)

March 29, 2010
4:56 PM

Post #7665322

Stevia is showing on the right of this picture. My twelve seeds may have given me six seedlings. On the left is my Spearmint. They will both get transplanted as soon as the first true leaves show and open. I will harden them off a few days before transplanting. My target to get them outside is not earlier than May the first. I will use decorative eight inch pots that will move from the patio edge right up on the picnic table for teas. Few people have ever heard of Stevia so we have fun picking and making tea as we solve the problems of the world.

Thumbnail by docgipe
Click the image for an enlarged view.

msrobin
Caneyville, KY
(Zone 6b)

March 29, 2010
5:05 PM

Post #7665342

Well, I'm impressed. I read it was next to impossible to grow Stevia from seed here in the States.

I bought a small plant a few weeks ago. It's obviously been started off of a stem cutting. I had thought of cutting in half, so I'd have 2 plants. But that stem is horizontal (about the size of a pencil) and the new growth comes up from near the center of the stem. I'm afraid, if I cut it, I'll hurt the roots.
docgipe
NORTH CENTRAL, PA
(Zone 5a)

March 29, 2010
5:17 PM

Post #7665391

Yes it is very difficult as you can see. The covered seedling tray absoutely must be Col. Chicken's very best. The seed will germinate about half under twenty four hour lights when placed on the medium not in the medium. They need light to germinate. Humidity should be just enough that the planter modestly sweats. Stay under the twenty four hour lights until the first true leaves are out and fully open. Harden off timing it to get you transplanted and outside just after your last spring frost. Bring inside if the night temperature falls below sixty degrees. I had the same results last year which was my first year.
...I read that we can't do this here too. I think Lowe's printed that directive. LOL
msrobin
Caneyville, KY
(Zone 6b)

March 29, 2010
5:44 PM

Post #7665469

I had one left from last year that I kind of neglected in the greenhouse (without heat) over the winter. It was looking pretty rough, but I brought it inside a few weeks ago and cut it back, and it's now starting to fill out. I'll definitelt taje better care of it this next winter.
daugenet
Simpsonville, SC
(Zone 7b)

May 5, 2010
5:20 AM

Post #7765698

rabbits found mine and ate it :-( i will be growing some more later once my new tomatoes are done growing
KayJones
Panama City Beach, FL
(Zone 8b)

May 5, 2010
8:50 AM

Post #7766242

Mine is growing in the ground and is up about 6", so it's a tough plant to have survived this past winter!
docgipe
NORTH CENTRAL, PA
(Zone 5a)

May 5, 2010
9:12 AM

Post #7766318

I just pinched my seedlings...eight Spearmint and eight Stevia. I tossed all the pinched off leaves and stems in a cup and a half sized mug. Zapped them in the radar oven and had a good cup of Spearmint tea.
That might have been a bit sweet but for the first of the season I thought it yummy yum.
KayJones
Panama City Beach, FL
(Zone 8b)

May 5, 2010
10:49 AM

Post #7766578

Doc, what a brilliant idea - now, why doesn't MY brain work like that? I grow it for the novelty ie ya, I grow that! LOL
evelyn_inthegarden
Sierra Foothills, CA
(Zone 8a)

May 10, 2010
11:45 AM

Post #7780765

How tender/hardy is Stevia? Mine overwintered here, after several snowfalls even in April, which usually the last of the snow falls in March. Possibly protected from hard frost under the snow, as the low was about 10 here in January.

Now last season I just left them in the ground, without even cutting them back until spring. Now they are putting on new growth, especially with the rainfall here after the snow. This year we have had more water than usual, as it normally dries up about March 15th then we get rain the following November. Still they are wanting all the rivers and lakes to fill up before releasing all the water to the valley farmers.

Anyone know about companion planting? Spearmint does seem an ideal companion, but that has a tendency to take over.

Oh, so sweet it is~~~~
docgipe
NORTH CENTRAL, PA
(Zone 5a)

May 10, 2010
7:23 PM

Post #7782021

Your Spearmint will not spread when grown in a container. Indeed I would warn you to be concerned about many herbs becoming difficult. Think containers. I like plastic paint buckets sunk in the ground for the large plantings. My smaller plantings are in smaller decorative pots two of which remain right on the picnic table all summer.

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

May 11, 2010
9:00 AM

Post #7783348

I been using Stevia (actually Truvia) for quite some time. I had read the stevia plant was difficult to grow, so had not added it to my garden. I also thought one needed lots and lots of leaves to equal a small amount of sugar.

From what y'all have written both assumptions are incorrect. Now I'll have to find some seeds/plants and see what happens...

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