Check out this young vegetable grower!
A school rally will be held in Tino Bruno’s honor. Officials will hand over a giant ceremonial check for $1,000. Reporters have been calling, and he’s got a date to go on the radio later this month.
“And it’s all over a cabbage,” said the 9-year-old boy’s father, Chris. “You never know what the road to fame is going to be.”
But this is not just any cabbage. The 2-inch-tall seedling that Tino replanted last January eventually grew into a 29-pound monster cabbage. By the time Tino, his father and his brother, Lorenzo, finally cut it down with a kitchen knife and hoisted it into the back of the family pickup last May, the cabbage was as heavy as two bowling balls, with a head the size of a world globe, 38 inches around and 12 inches across.
“It was pretty big,” Tino said modestly.
Big enough, it turns out, to crown Tino as the California champion of a national cabbage growing competition that involves more than 1 million schoolchildren each year.
Alabama-based vegetable and herb provider Bonnie Plants puts on the contest, with the winner in each state receiving a $1,000 scholarship. It’s not necessarily the biggest cabbage that wins; teachers across the country nominate students based on their plants’ appearance and size, and the winners are randomly picked from that pool.
So luck was in Tino’s favor. But make no mistake: He earned this.
Tino’s third-grade class at Annunciation School received the cabbages at one of the county’s regular AgVenture events, his father said. The plant was so small that it came in a cup.
But Tino knows a thing or two about the magic of farming. His father’s company grows peppers. And the Bruno family grew a 200-pound pumpkin a couple of years ago.
So Tino set out to grow the biggest cabbage he possibly could. He planted it Jan. 19 in a garden at his father’s workplace in north Stockton.
Every week or so, Tino would visit the garden with his dad. He fertilized the cabbage, he carefully removed bugs and snails, and he built a makeshift cage to protect the plant from rabbits.
Last year’s heavy rains took care of most of the watering. And by late March, it became apparent that Tino had a whopper cabbage on his hands. Bonnie cabbages are supposed to be whoppers — the company provides an oversized variety that occasionally grows up to 60 or even 70 pounds.
Alex Breitler, January 10, 2018, Record Staff Writer