I planted squash, pumpkins and some decorative gourds last Friday. Our weather, especially the nights, is still not what the warm weather crops would like to have, but I decided to get them in and take my chances.
Saturday we had an all-day rain so nothing was accomplished outside. Yesterday I thought the garden would be too wet to work in. I waited until around 11 a.m. before going out to check and happily found the soil was just fine.
In Dick Raymond's book, Joy of Gardening, he gives some tips for growing corn in cooler climates. He gardened in Vermont so I've found much of the info in his book can be applied to our area. He advocates planting corn in a raised bed. Not a raised bed such as the 4' x 8' ones I have, but a row in the field garden that is elevated 6 to 8".
So I laid out my rows and using a rake made a long mound the whole length of each corn row, lightly flattening and packing down the top of the mound with the flat side of a hoe, then planting my corn seed in the top of the mound.
Dick Raymond maintains that after a heavy rain (which corn isn't particularly fond of) the raised bed or "mound" the corn is planted in dries out faster than corn planted on flat ground and possibly sitting in water. The mound with its raised, slanted sides warms up earlier and captures more sun and heat throughout the season.
I've never tried this before. Matter of fact, I'd given up trying to grow corn after so many years of failure until I stumbled onto Painted Mountain corn two years ago. I put in a smallish test plot and found it was a corn I could successfully grow here. It almost seemed too good to be true. Developed in the mountains of Montana, the ears can be eaten as sweet corn as soon as the kernels are fully developed. The dried corn grinds well and can be used as cornmeal or a high-nutrition flour. The dried corn can also be fed to livestock.
Then last year when I tripled the planting of it, I had a total crop failure. First off, I planted the corn in a part of the field garden that only gets about two-thirds of the sunlight offered each day. (My bad.) Then we had a couple of destructive windstorms that knocked it nearly flat . . . twice. (Mother Nature's bad.) The ears never matured at all and were only teeny-tiny not even half formed ears when heavy frost hit in the fall.
But because of the success I had year before last, I wanted to try again this year. I have visions of plowing up a new section of land and in years to come growing enough for dried corn to feed our chickens.
So yesterday, getting my corn planted took a bit longer than usual because of building the raised beds along each row before planting the corn. But I did it, and I'm glad. Barring any bad windstorms or other calamities this summer, I'm looking for a good crop of corn. Here's hoping!
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