How to be Successful When Growing Stevia

Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) is a plant that has become well-known for its sweetness. It is now grown commercially and the sweetness is refined and sold as a sugar substitute. Right now, most of the stevia extract comes from China. The good news for gardeners is that it isn’t hard to grow and it will even flourish in a big pot. General stevia information The plant is native to South America. It is a perennial, but isn’t tolerant of bitter cold temperatures. Gardeners in the north are advised to either grow it in pots or dig it up and put it in a pot when the temperatures get very low. The sweetness comes from compounds known as steviol glycosides. The two most important are rebaudioside and stevioside. For a time, stevia was banned in the US because of health concerns, but the FDA lifted the ban in 2008, with Europe following suit three years later. The plant has actually been used by tribal people in South America for well over 1,500 years now. There is a good reason for this. Pure stevioside is 100 to 200 times sweeter than sugar, varying a little depending on growth factors. Using the leaves without refining doesn’t result in this level of sweetness, however they are still sweeter than sugar, even unrefined. Planting stevia Stevia needs rich soil that drains well. It also likes to have plenty of space, so they should be placed a foot and a half away from other plants in all Continue Reading →

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How to preserve parsley

Every year, I grow parsley. It is good for a person’s health since it is packed with minerals and vitamins and it also tastes great in salads. It is easy to grow in medium rich soil, it is a pretty plant even if it is grown in the flowerbed and it can even be grown in pots. Still, parsley is an annual and though it is cold hardy, it dies back when the temperatures drop to well below freezing. Since I also enjoy the flavor it imparts to soups, stews and other foods like spaghetti sauce, I preserve the excess for use during the winter. It isn’t all that hard to do, either, and there are a couple ways to do it. Drying parsley, first method The first step is to get some fine meshed window screen. This will allow for airflow while the parsley is drying. The importance of the airflow should become apparent later. Many people like to use screen already attached to frames, as it would be if it were actually going to be put over a window. Others prefer simply stretching it to props that allow the air to circulate both above and below it. The screen should be clean, and it should be set up in an area where it won’t be disturbed for several days to a week or so. It should not be set where it will get sunlight, however. Sun or other heat sources can force out the oils that give parsley its Continue Reading →

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