Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Corn Post

It is 5 am on my birthday and I am blogging about corn. Life is good.

I planted corn in two places this year. One of the main sun garden's raised beds held a small patch of goldam bantam corn. I first planted it on 4/13. That initial planting didn't do much of anything. Only about 5 seeds germinated. I replanted this goldam bantam plot a couple weeks later. Goldam Bantam came highly recommended by Sarah's grandfather. It is an old heirloom variety that is only supposed to get 3 1/2 feet tall. I selected this shorter variety for the main garden so it wouldn't shade the potato crop that I was planting to the north. Well - it got plenty tall. I'd estimate it was at least 5 1/2 feet tall and it did shade those potatos. But the shade didn't do any damage to those red norlands because that crop was well on it's way to harvest when the corn reached mature size. Despite it's height and healthy foilage this corn was a disappointment. The ears were about 1/2 sized. Because they were so small I didn't harvest them in time. I kept thinking they needed "just one more week" to fill out. By the time I did harvest them (after a heavy storm knocked them all over), the corn was old and chewy - not sweet at all. My main garden plot of approximately 20 square feet yielded 8 pounds of migit sized, old, chewy corn. Remove the weight of the ears from this calculation and you likely have just a couple pounds of edible produce. Hardly worth the investment in garden space.
The other corn plot was planted at the edge of the two high wall and low wall gardens as sort of a visual and phyical fence. They did what I wanted them to do. They got tall and were really nice to look at from the street. Whenever I was down there watering or weeding I always took note of the looks that this plot would get from passersby. I noticed lots of second glances and little smiles. This variety of corn was a freebie from Shumway called early bird garden. I planted it three rows thick running about 25 feet long. The first 13 feet is full sun the last 12 feet is heavily shaded by a stone wall that edges the high wall garden. I made the same mistake with this plot that I did with the bantam. I never harvested it. When I finally got around to picking an ear it was old and wrinkly. This patch also didn't do real well.
Conclusion: Corn is beautiful to look at. It is wonderful in the compost pile. The stalks make fun swords for the kids and decorations at halloween. But it doesn't do much for my harvest. I think I will always try to find some space for it, but I certainly am done sacrificing main garden space for a corn row. I liked the way it fenced the wall gardens and I may make this approach an annual one. I need to plant later and harvest sooner - and lower my expectations.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Replacement, replacement planting

Remember my last post where I said I planted peas, chard, beans and spinach in the main sun garden? It must have been a dream. Nothing has come up. Well almost nothing. The swiss chard is doing well. The former onion, root, and pea beds have done next to nothing. So this morning (almost two weeks later) - I tried again planting the exact same stuff. Green arrow peas, early bird garden beans, and spinach. I also tossed a few rows of winter greens in the cold frame - kale and mustard greens. I used a spot that I had previously filled with kale seeds - again nothing. The only thing I can think about the poor germination of these late July plantings is the the weather must have just been too hot and dry for them to get going. Only 60 days left till first frost (oct 15), so not much time for planting left. This weekend will likely be it.

The harvest weight is up to 212 pounds. We had a 23 pound harvest on Monday. About half of the harvest was tomatoes and the rest was corn and beans. A big heavy storm did some major damage to our main corn planting. It knocked all the stalks over. We harvested it all and we are definately dissappointed in the result. The ears were about 1/2-3/4 sized, but despite their kid-sized ears, the kernals tasted chewy and old - not sweet at all. The variety was Goldam Bantam - recommended by Sarah's grandfather. We only yielded 8 pounds of corn - which if you exclude the unedible ear is likely more like 4 edible pounds. This same garden row planted in tomatoes, potatoes or beans would have yielded much, much more. I won't be doing corn in the main garden next year. I love the look of it, and the stalks do wonders for the compost pile, but it just takes up too much space and light for a very small - not so tasty yield. Farmers stands will get my corn business next year.