Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Golden Rule of Corn

I grew corn this year for the first time. Although it's maybe not the best choice for a relatively small garden, I decided that I had genetics on my side. My grandfather grew it for a living. And really, I simply love the taste of fresh sweet corn. The reason many people with small gardens choose not to grow it is because the ratio of food to growing space is very low for corn. In addition, sweet corn is relatively cheap at the market...usually around $1 for 2 organic ears. Nevertheless, I forged ahead and decided to grow corn...in the front yard. It grew quite well, I'd say.
Happy corn growing - check out the pink silks!

After picking about 2-3 ears from each of the 8 corn stalks over the last few weeks, I chopped down the plants today. My husband looked at me in dismay and said "That's all?" "Yep, that's all...that's corn," I said.
This is the first ear I picked:
Delicioso!

You may have noticed that I said 8 plants. The Golden Rule of Corn planting is that you should have at least a 4x4 foot area planted in solid corn. That's about 16 plants spaced 12" apart. This is so that there is enough pollen present to pollinate the silks. Planting only one long row is said to result in low pollination. Imagine if the predominate wind direction is perpendicular to the row...little to no pollen will fall on the silks.

For some reason, I thought that this rule really didn't apply to me and my corn. I planted 2 rows of 4 plants each. I would have planted more, but tomatoes were dominating the garden this year, so space was at a premium. As it turns out, several ears looked like this:

Notice all of the unpollinated kernels!

Next year, if I grow corn, I'll be playing by it's rules.

7 comments:

gittan said...

Corn with butter and some salt, tastes wonderful! I didn't grow any this year since there where now space in the garden but next season I sure will.

Daphne said...

I suppose you could always go for hand pollinating the corn with a little tiny section. At least yours turned out better than mine this year. Without any silks on the corn (earwigs loved them) there was no chance for pollination.

Stefaneener said...

Yours was better and more productive than mine! I'm going to leave it to the local organic folks again next year and concentrate on the things I do well. Glad you got to enjoy some at least.

Nell Jean said...

I was going to mention hand pollination, but it has already been suggested. Do try it. My nephew, a research scientist at state university, hand pollinates corn all the time, but for different reasons.

Ellie Mae's Cottage said...

At least you tried to grow it. I'm too chicken to try growing corn, but if I do it sounds like I'd better play by it's rules. :) Jackie

Miss Daisy said...

Oh man! I bet that was a disappointment to see a lot of your corn not develop, especially when so much blood, sweat, and tears is put into gardening! Darnit. At least you can use the dried up stalk for fall decorations!

Jackie said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone. Hmm...hand pollination... You know, I never even saw any pollen coming from the tassels. (Of course there must have been some!) But anyway, I'm not sure how I'd get the silks pollinated...