from seed to harvest
I was updating this page when I found that my only stevia website was gone and I could find no other. We have just finished the Shop and will have the 24 hour lights ready for the seedlings. The seeds are on order and should be here by next week. The tomato plants are almost 2 inches and ready to go to their first individual cups. They love the constant light and are doing wonderfully.
I never found anyone with experience with Stevia but what I found was gardeners with experience in getting spring plantlets to grow well. Like many of those needing special care, I find that they need additional light as in fluorescent lights. 24 hours a day with the plants set up close. I had been setting up a single unit but could only use it for the daytime since it was in the bird's room. Randy is building a shop which will have a large room for lights special for this purpose. I can hardly wait and will make sure I order more Stevia seeds.
I did find someone with experience with Stevia but it later became apparent that they were growing commercially and were probably writing a book. Hey, I can do that...
The website, http://www.steviaplant.com ,was a great place and is now gone ! I can find no others. 02-20-04....
is the greatest collection of books, sources of Stevia and articles for your free reading enrichment I have found on the web to date. I thought at first glance that this was a books for sale only site. They have many but go to the section called articles and just take your pick. I looked up and an hour had passed and I wasn't ready to leave yet. I had thought I needed to put a picture of a Stevia plant in here somewhere, but this site has plenty.
Steviaplant.com has an article explaining all the legal, technical stuff about how you must be careful what you say you intend to do with that Stevia plant. It has only been available in the USA for several years, even as a food additive. Imperial Pure Cane Sugar went bankrupt so I don't know why Stevia must still be kept out of the market. We can grow it. I did see a mention by a writer that they preferred to mix it with a mint plant for the flavor. I signed up for their free newsletters and will look forward to getting more valuable knowledge.
If you have experience with Stevia, please send me your success stories or failures. I've learned a lot from my mistakes; I just need to learn more about the right way to do it. We are not at a high elevation where it is native but can grow the plant as a container plant to bring indoors during the winter.
The longer link below is what they furnished in their section: Link to Us. I didn't need all the extra letters so I'll give you both.
The one remaining tiny plant died. I would say damping off but I watched as a gnat flew away from the plant. It fell over and wilted away. It never got over half an inch tall. I did figure out what I had been doing wrong. It only took a quick trip through the Stevia plant site told me everything I wish I'd know before I had started last year. I can't find any seeds locally so I have given up starting any new plants this year.
The few things I have learned about Stevia say that it of the Compositae Family. It enjoys sand, is a shrubby perennial and it is hard to get the seeds to germinate and survive. It does not compete well with weeds and 40 degrees F. will kill it. Stevia matures best during long days, and the leaves have the most sweetener while stems are usually discarded. Many think it tastes like licorice.
I have few notes on Stevia which are my own. I know that the seeds need warmth, between 80 and 85 degrees F. to germinate. To keep them this warm, my heating pad must stay on high all the time. This gets them started quickly but it also makes the soil dry out much faster. I let every one of the tiny sprouts die when they dried out overnight. Solution this time: put them into a deep enough soil where there is plenty of moisture where it will not dry out overnight. The very last of two packets of seeds is two tiny sprouts that look like they might not make it. They grow so very slowly and most seem to have a problem developing, part of the seed stuck to a leaf, the seed does not open enough to let the leaves out.
Everything else about sprouting seeds is in the gardening section under Getting Seeds to Sprout. Stevia seeds are like dust! I have tried the method of covering the seed tray with a clear plastic or dome cover but I find these methods caused more damping off and mold problems.
If you have Stevia experience to share, growing or using, please let me know. Send me an email.