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.

1 comment:

  1. Hello, birthday boy! Sorry I didn't call you on your birthday but backpacking the North Cascades was higher priority. You know, if you had delivered that tough and dried out corn to us on, say, day 3 of our backpack, it would have tasted like the best thing I had eaten in days! Ed and Jean put in some corn too probably because they had the seed and the inclination. The ears are slow growing but, given your experience, I think they better check on the ears.
    Our garden has filled my freezer and tomatoes are just coming in! We discovered that the slow start rainbow swiss chard loves hot weather and we have a ton of it. It is great but even I am getting tired of steamed greens. This will soon be the season of Greek salads with the coming of robust tomatoes, cukes, Walla Walla onions, peppers, and fresh Greek oregano ("regano" as the Greeks call it). We are still harvesting the last of the green beans and I planted several rows of green bunching onions and spinach and radishes. We'll see if the season is long enough for more of each.
    Tell your sweetheart, Sarah, that I harvested a bunch of lemon balm for tea this winter. It along with other herbs are in the community part of the garden.