Good day! The theme of sweets and sugar substitutes is one of the most popular among people with diabetes and overweight.
There is a lot of contradictory information on this subject, but the undisputed leaders among sugar substitutes are natural ones.
Today again we will talk about stevia, but already about growing from seeds at home, how to get seeds and grow it in the country and at home, planting and care, and in the end we will learn how to prepare syrup.
I hope the material will be useful not only to avid gardeners, but also to everyone who is engaged in home floriculture. Try to grow your own stevia, and we will help you!
Growing honey stevia at home
Today’s article is devoted to all those who prefer to see not only beautiful, but also useful plants at home or in the country. Is it possible to grow stevia at home, so that this famous inhabitant of southern latitudes pleases us with her juicy sweet leaves?
Of course, many gardeners have long been cultivating this herb, known for its taste and healing properties, on its window sills and summer cottages.
How to purchase stevia seeds
Since we will grow stevia directly from the seeds, it is worthwhile to find out in advance where to get them.
This plant belongs to the Astrovs or Compositae family, and despite the common opinion that only a small percentage of seeds germinate, stevia is cultivated in northern countries very successfully, but more often as an annual plant.
Small seeds of stevia — just 0.5 mm wide and 4 mm long — are easy to purchase from the online store and receive by mail.
On specialized sites you can find different packaging and, accordingly, meet a large range of prices for this plant. The minimum number of seeds in one package is 7-10 pieces with a guarantee of a high percentage of germination.
Today, the questions of where and how to purchase stevia seeds are no longer worth it – order an exotic plant and get it by mail!
Stevia herb: plant hardiness
But to grow stevia in the open field, it is worth remembering a few important points.
Frost resistance of this grass is considered low and not suitable for our latitudes, because of which growing it in the country is fraught with certain difficulties.
How to sow the seeds of stevia
Most often, it is recommended to purchase stevia seedlings that have already grown, especially if there is no experience of growing plants from seeds – this method is considered more reliable.
But if you want to try your hand, then it’s time to find out what you should pay special attention to when planting this grass with seeds.
Selection of stevia seeds
To plant stevia with a maximum percentage of germination, we select the material by the method of windage, that is, simply release each seed and see how it falls.
- If quickly and strictly down – the seed is good.
- If it turns and turns over, it is better not to plant it, it most likely will not give rise to shoots.
What land to use for sowing stevia
Soil for the successful cultivation of stevia should consist of black soil and humus in a ratio of 3: 1.
- If it seems that the soil is too clay, add sand.
- The ideal will be loam with compost.
- It is also possible to purchase ready-made soil, since the surface corvus of stevia is very sensitive to various foreign inclusions.
Before planting (we produce it in the middle of March), we moisten the seeds with warm water and lay them on a clean cloth or paper until it is completely dry.
Because of their small size, it is not worth covering up, that is, covering the seeds after planting. Simply lay out the stevia on the surface of the wet soil, sprinkle with water and cover with plastic wrap, a slice of a plastic bottle or a glass jar of suitable diameter.
From time to time we moisten the soil with a spraying and keep it warm in a well-lit place – the temperature should not fall below 22-25 ° C. In such favorable conditions, the seeds germinate within 5-7 days.
We finish sowing stevia no later than mid-May.
Honey Grass Seedlings
When the first shoots appear under a film or a can, pay attention that weeds are not among them. It will be easy to distinguish them from stevia seedlings: the latter grow very slowly and are very small.
If all the seeds have risen and it seems that they grow too often, we should dive them through one. We transplant young plants into separate dishes with the same soil composition, so that they are well established.
If we do not plan to grow stevia in the open field, we plant sprouts right away in a wide, shallow pot, as the root system of this grass, as we remember, is superficial and grows in breadth.
The resulting seedlings are best dive at the age of 2 months, either in the greenhouse or in the pots – for many, it is more convenient to monitor the plant’s microclimate.
Just remember that in this case the pot should be prepared in advance and designed for an adult plant.
Seated seedlings are also covered with a can or a plastic bottle to create the optimum level of heat and humidity.
When planting seedlings of plants in open ground
Planting in open ground is allowed not earlier than the middle or even the end of June, so that the temperature of the soil is 10-15 ° C, not less.
In addition, two weeks before the intended planting, stevia seedlings need to begin to harden. To do this, we open the one and a half month plants and put them into the open air, first for a couple of hours, gradually increasing the “airing” time.
After the seedlings become accustomed to be outside the shelter throughout the day, transplant them into open ground. With such preparation to grow stevia in the country will not be so difficult, despite its low frost resistance.
Transplanting stevia from open ground
In late August and early September, the plants will need to be dug and transplanted into a pot and put into a greenhouse or brought into a house, since the minimum temperature at which the plant does not die is 4 ° C heat.
If you have plans to keep the grass alive during the winter and return it to the open ground at the beginning of summer, you should not risk it – we remove stevia from drafts and frosts much earlier.
We monitor the PH indicator: it must be neutral. If the soil is too acidic or, on the contrary, alkaline, we continue to keep stevia in pots even in the open air, without planting it in the ground.
Caring for stevia seedlings in the open field
Stevia seedlings are very capricious and capricious in caring at home. She does not like dry soil, but does not tolerate waterlogging, her roots immediately begin to rot.
While the seedlings are very small, we just dived at them and before planting in the open ground is still far away, we set up a mini-greenhouse for them. Under glass or film should be moist and very warm. If it is impossible to determine the temperature inside, it is better to use a special thermometer.
- Optimal for the successful cultivation of honey stevia are 25-26 ° C.
We keep pots on the sunniest and warmest windowsills, regularly, 2-3 times a day, sprinkling the soil with warm water. Watering should be only point and occasionally, so as not to overwet the seedlings.
Top dressing of a stevia honey
After a month, stevia can be transferred to a greenhouse. There we try to keep young plants in the same microclimate – warm and humid. At the same time, it’s time to start feeding.
To grow stevia in a greenhouse or at home, spray the plants once every two weeks, alternating organic and mineral fertilizers. We part them according to the instructions.
While young plants are getting stronger, we are preparing a place on the site, if there is a desire and opportunity to grow honey stevia on open ground.
The place should be selected taking into account all the needs of the plant – in no case lowland, so as not to accumulate moisture, it should be well lit throughout the day. There should be no other plants nearby, we assign a separate section to Stevia.
Pruning adult plants
When the shoots in the greenhouse or at home on the windowsill reach 20 cm, and after planting 2 months have passed, we cut the tops. The best thing to do is from mid-May to early June. Thus, we will contribute to the appearance of lateral processes, creating a shrub in several twigs, which can be used as food in the fall.
Cut off the shoot in such a way that on an adult plant its part with a pair of internodes remains.
Rooting cuttings of stevia
We are not in a hurry to throw out the remaining cuttings, because with their help, Stevia multiplies faster and more reliably than by planting seeds.
Rooted cuttings of stevia as follows:
- put them in a jar with slightly sweetened water (1
With such home care, stevia can be transplanted into the soil within two weeks.
A freshly planted plant is kept under a film or glass, and we open it not earlier than in a week. To settle down Stevia will need high humidity and soil.
Agrotechnology stevia involves transplanting it into the open ground after at least two months from the time the seedlings emerge. We continue to regularly spray and water the pre-hardened plant in the air in order to achieve maximum sweetness in the leaves, because stevia grown in the country and not at home will be the sweetest.
Now, when we figured out what is planting this plant and caring for it, find out what you can do the preparation of stevia.
Harvesting stevia honey
Stevia is known to be an excellent natural sweetener that does not cause an increase in blood glucose levels. As a result, it can be used by both types of diabetics.
In addition, honey grass is sweeter than usual sugar several hundred times, so not much will be needed to sweeten drinks and food.
Stevia can be harvested in several ways.
Drying and chopping leaves is one of the easiest ways to harvest.
- When the time comes to harvest, cut the stems with shears and pick leaves from them.
- Dry them in any convenient way – in the sun, in the oven with a slight heat or in a drying cabinet.
The main thing is not to overdo them at high temperature for more than 12 hours so that sweetness is not lost.
Dried leaves are ground in a regular coffee grinder or blender bowl, poured into a jar and stored for several years.
How to use dried stevia
- If necessary, add them to the drink and brew them and use them as herbal tea.
- And for the preparation of baking or another dessert based on stevia, pour 80-100g of chopped leaf into a linen bag and brew 1 liter of boiling water. After 10-12 hours we will have a sweet broth.
- If you want to add stevia to porridge, batter or fermented milk products, you can not even brew it, but simply grind to a state of fine powder. We put it right like that.
But besides simply drying the leaves, stevia can be prepared for the winter in several more ways – by boiling a syrup or extract.
Stevia Extract Recipes
To make an extract from the leaves of stevia at home, you can and alcohol, and water. The difference will be in the sweetness – in the first case, it will be even more tangible.
We stock up on dry leaves and vodka or other strong alcohol, such as whiskey or brandy.
- Fill the dried stevia leaves with alcohol in the proportion of 1:10 and insist day.
- Then we filter and we can use it directly, diluting it with clean water, and we can heat the resulting liquid, but not bring it to a boil, this will help reduce the alcohol content.
In a similar way we make water extract.
- Fill the leaves with water in a ratio of 1: 5 and begin to evaporate over very low heat.
- Hold for 15 minutes, then filter and resume warming until the volume of liquid decreases 5 times.
Stevia Home Syrup
Stevia syrup at home is done in the same way.
- Keep the aqueous extract on the fire until it thickens to the desired consistency.
The resulting syrup from stevia is sealed in a sterile jar and used as needed, adding to pastries or drinks.
Now you know whether stevia can be grown at home, how best to do it, and also why its wonderful honey leaves can be useful!
Since this plant is a real storehouse of useful substances, do not be afraid of failure and postpone planting – try to organize “sugar plantations” on your window sill now!
With warmth and care, endocrinologist Dilyara Lebedeva