Monday, June 9, 2014

More Planting, Getting Close to Done

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!

14 comments:

Kristina said...

That is very interesting about corn. We gave up growing it here too. This year I did plant black popcorn (nongmo, organic). It is coming up, but it's too early to see if we are successful. I too, would love to grow enough to feed the chickens (and grind into flour). It looks great!

Tombstone Livestock said...

Lookin' good, you've been busy girl.

Lisa said...

I LOVE Dick Raymond's book! Was my first garden book I purchased waaay back in 1988? Never able to use it until these past few years here, though it's been read cover to cover and many dog-eared pages.

Tenacity - that's what we must have, as we've had corn busts for all the years we've been planting corn - going on maybe 4 years now.... though each year we try, try again. This year's no different. We expanded our corn patch last fall and over the winter I spread chicken manure and raked it in. Planted seeds and only half has come up. Beautiful, dark green corn stalks on what's growing, but not too many so worried about the pollination factor for the ear development. Think our problem this year just might be a new robin family taking up residence as I've seen Mr. or Mrs. Robin happily skipping about the corn patch. Then found dill and lettuce growing under the bluebird house so that looks mighty guilty there too! Anxious to see how your 'raised bed' works out and may try that next year. Wonder if it'll help keep the weeds down too? Your dirt is so gorgeous!!!!!

Susan said...

I'll be waiting and watching right along side of you (virtually), as I would love to grow corn, but surprisingly (cough) don't have room. Your garden looks fabulous!

Anonymous said...

I too have found that planting corn in mounds is a good way. The Native Americans do their 3 Sisters gardens with corn planted in circles and on rounded mounds. I did this with Painted Mtn and, much to my amazement, the corn did not lodge as bad during a big windstorm. The circled corn actually supported each other! I would have never figured that out on my own! -M

Leigh said...

Dick Raymond was one of our first gardening inspirations! Our corn is doing gloriously, but then we're in corn country. I so hope yours does well!

Mama Pea said...

Thanks, Kristina - We've had an organic multi-colored popcorn for the last couple of years that we really like. Purchased, not grown. It has "black" kernels in it. Good luck with yours!

Mama Pea said...

Tombstone Livestock - Thank you, ma'am! I have been kinda pushing it!

Mama Pea said...

Lisa - I would have thought in your climate, growing corn wouldn't be a problem. With the seeds planted 1 to1-1/2" down in the soil, how the heck do the robins know it's there?

Way back before I had the framed-in raised beds, I tried gardening with the mound system on flat ground. I made raised beds the length of my rows that were about three feet across the top . . . with the slopped sides. They were TERRIBLE as far as the weeds went! The weeds loved to grow heavily on all the sloped sides and I couldn't keep them weeded. I sure hope my little mounds for the corn don't do the same as far as encouraging weeds. We'll see. :o)

Mama Pea said...

Susan - Thanks for the kind words but, so far, all my garden looks is BARE! :o/ (At least the weeds aren't in control . . . yet.)

Mama Pea said...

M - Ah, yes, if only we all knew more of the "old ways" and had the common sense to use them!! But I'll bet making your rounded mounds for the circles of corn took even more time than my mounded rows did. 'Twould be worth it if it did the trick though!

Mama Pea said...

Leigh - Please don't shoot if you spy a couple of northerners in your corn patch near the end of summer! ;o)

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to see how this newer method for you works! Your garden looks fantastic, and I cannot wait to have that good soil in my own garden in a year or two :)

http://caffeinatedhomestead.weebly.com/blog

Mama Pea said...

Stephanie - Thanks, and don't worry. Your soil will get better and better every single year. Remember this year will be the hardest!