According to her grandfather, Emmalee Young is a natural-born farmer. She comes from a long line of Quakers who worked the land. Her green thumb was put to work last summer when she participated in the National Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program.
Third graders across the state brought home tiny little cabbage plants that had been trucked in by Bonnie Plants and delivered to students whose teachers had enrolled in the program. The cabbage plants that the children used are oversized cabbage plants that have been designed to produce huge plants.
Emmalee planted her cabbage back in April and with the help of her grandfather, Fred Young, she learned how to properly water, weed and fertilize her plant.
“I learned where to water it because if you water it on the top it all just gets stuck in the leaves,” she said. “So my grandpa taught me that you have to water it at the bottom.”
Her family already had a flourishing garden with cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots and peppers, so Young’s cabbage fit right in. Her family doesn’t do traditional row gardening. They have a raised garden where large wooden boxes are filled with soil and planted in. The cabbage got a whole box to itself and it would need it.
“Every day I looked through the window to check on it,” she said.
Emmalee tended to the cabbage for three months and by the middle of the summer the outside leaves started to turn yellow — it was time to pick it. Her family snapped a picture of Emmalee with the massive cabbage and took it inside to weigh it. It tipped the scales at 22 pounds. Her cabbage was certainly ahead of the curve.
“Most of my friends' cabbages either died or they ate them when they were small,” Young said.
He grandfather. Fred Young, chalks the cabbage's size up to good soil and a good starting point.
“We have good fertile ground,” Fred said. “Bonnies are good plants, we use their pepper and tomato plants. They’re high quality.”
Despite its massive size, her cabbage shared the same fate as that of her friends. After they documented its weight, Emmalee’s grandmother, Mary Young, made ham and cabbage with potatoes.
“It was fresh and delicious, better than anything you get in the market,” Mary said.
Emmalee doesn’t like cabbage, so she didn’t get to enjoy the fruits of her labor. She was, however, rewarded for her hard work later.
She was randomly selected by the Delaware Department of Agriculture as the winner of the contest and was awarded a $1,000 dollar savings bond for education.
Page 2 of 2 - “You know on game shows when the balloons fall? It felt like that when I won,” Emmalee said.