As you can see in the photo above, the corn crop grew just fine. There's a first planting on the right there, and a second planting on the left. The crop is tall, it's got plenty of flowers (corn pollinates using the wind, brushing the pollen from the flowers on the top of the stalk down to the silk in the ears, below). But have a look at the bottom of the stalks on the right side. See how dry they look? And here's a picture of what's happening to the ears.
All of the ears are extremely skinny. Even when the silk has dried completely (the sign that an ear of corn is ripe and ready to eat), the ears are still skinny. When shucked, here's how they look.
Some sketchy pollination, but still - nice formation of rows (this variety was Bantam 12-row) and plump kernels. However, the ear is just too thin. And when you eat them? It's a sparse pleasure. Good flavor, but without that fat mouthfeel we're used to. Just completely unsatisfying.
Looking at all the ears, I decided that something had just gone wrong. The most compelling problem might be water. No matter how long we have this drip system, no matter how much we fiddle with it, I still can't get the water right. Part of it is totally my fault. I planted the corn next to the tomatoes. The tomatoes are fine being watered every other day, but the corn, which is on the same timer as the tomatoes, would prefer to be watered every day. I've GOT to start planting in groupings with similar water needs. I've got to stop being an idiot about this.
Case in point, I've got winter squashes on the same timer as the tomatoes too. Squashes, which are cucurbits, have shallow roots and really need to be watered every day. Once they get their greenery, you can't overhead water with the hose because they are susceptible to powdery mildew. It's incredibly frustrating, when you're trying to factor in crop rotation in a small space, as well as watering needs.
Oh well. I decided to cut my losses and take out the corn crop. Corn is a heavy feeder, it requires a lot from the soil, so leaving it in, when we're not going to enjoy the fruits, is just a waste. I cut it all down and at least the compost got a jolt of fresh material.
I'm not entirely sure I'll ever grow corn again. It's always a bit unsatisfying. It takes up so much room, we don't have enough space to grow enough for our dinner needs, we only ever get enough for a couple of meals. And it needs so much in the way of resources. I'm not sure it's the most efficient use of our space.
In the bed where the corn had been, I decided to plant more pumpkins. Ok, I know. Pumpkins are a cucurbit and they would prefer daily water. But I thought I'd give it a try. I had some leftover seed for big pumpkins, so in they went, along with some organic plant food to replenish the soil, and a layer of potting soil from a half bag I had in the garage. Until the pumpkins get a lot of greenery, I'll give 'em an extra spritz from the hose on days the drip doesn't run. Hopefully we'll get some pumpkins out of this. But gosh, the area sure looks bare right now.
That's ok, plenty of time for a pumpkin crop. Our hottest weather is in front of us.
I shucked all the immature corn I could find in my pile, to give to the chickens. In doing so, it was interesting to look at the silk a little more closely. One long piece of silk, which is like a tube, goes into each kernel. The pollen travels down the tube and forms the kernel.
Here's the gourds and mini-pumpkins in a different area looking terrific. Of course, they're in a section where they get water every day. I got that right at least.
Tom's been busy making salsa with homegrown tomatoes, jalepenos, green peppers, and garlic. Our shallots had already run out so we had to make do with store-bought. We like to have at least 12 pints of salsa put up for the coming year, so this will make a dent in that.
We also harvested quite a few cucumbers; Tom is working on sweet and dill relish, and together we got some pickles going in a salt water brine, fermenting on the counter. The grape leaves are to keep the pickles from going mushy, we picked these from our neighbor's grape vines. We also included homegrown garlic, and store-bought dill (I had trouble growing dill this year). The brine is a 5% salt solution. Using sea salt rather than Kosher salt is said to help keep the pickles crisp, also, because of the high mineral content. We switched to sea salt in all of our cooking a while back, in fact, for the higher nutrition content.
While I'm thinking about it, a little reminder that it's time to order garlic and onion starts, if you don't have any of your own to plant. Ours tend to get used or go bad before planting time in Oct/Nov, so I usually order. This year I ordered from Baker Creek seeds, both Red Inchelium garlic (this is what we grew this past year and have LOVED it) and a new kind of onion for me, I'itoi. These are heirloom multiplier onions, very small with a shallot-like mildness, which we prefer. Apparently they multiply so well, we'll never have to buy starts again. We'll see about that!
On tap for this afternoon is a hive check; the bees have been very busy and I want to make sure they have enough bars for more nectar. I'm deep in to the new Harry Potter book (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) which is really the script for the new show which is getting rave reviews in London's West End. Oh my the book is good! And quite different in many ways! It's a little hard to see Harry as a parent rapidly approaching middle-age.
How are you spending your Saturday?