July 25, 2011

Corn Jungle

View of the corn from the main vegetable garden

The other day I ventured out into our corn patch. I had avoided it during the first part of the month because of all the rain. But the corn was getting tall and I really wanted to check on my pole beans and pumpkins. What I discovered was, we don't have a corn patch, we have a corn jungle. I wasn't even sure I wanted to wade around in there.

What used to be the main path

I planted the corn as a companion group, just like the garden. Once the corn plants were about 5 inches tall or so, I planted pole beans and about 5 or 6 hills of pie pumpkins. I was happy to see that the beans were in flower, and taking good advantage of the corn as bean poles.

Kentucky Wonder pole beans & Truckers Favorite field corn

Each corn stalk appeared to have two ears per. The other thing that was doing well was the volunteer morning glories.

Corn stalks make great poles

In some spots they're engulfing the corn plants.

The thing I had trouble finding, was my pumpkins. At last I spotted one...

Can you see it? A pumpkin vine amongst the corn & weeds?

It took a bit of weed pulling, but I finally got a better look.

Small Sugar pumpkin plant

This is the only pumpkin plant I could find, though I must have planted 5 or 6 hillsworth with half a dozen seeds each. I have not done well with pumpkins. This plant was from seed saved from the two pumpkins I got last year. The previous year, I only got two pumpkins as well. This is disappointing because every year I count on a lot of pumpkins, not only for pies and baking, but now for animal feed too.

Not all the corn has done so well.

There are sparse spots 

Since there are no weeds growing here either, my guess is that this has something to do with the soil. That will be another project to research for improvement.

We did two plantings of corn, the first in April, and the second in May. When I ran out of corn seed, I planted the rest of it in black oil sunflowers.

Black oil sunflowers and who knows what else

The weeds here, have been much harder to deal with. Dan weeded the first planting of corn with the tiller, to give it a head start. The rest of the field was neglected for a variety of reasons. The weeds established themselves so well, that the things we planted (corn and sunflowers) have had to struggle for their place.

All of this is a learning experience and part our experimenting on growing our own grain. We obviously have a lot to learn, like how to deal with all those weeds! We planted a total of 5 pounds of seed corn, so we'll just have to see how much we get and how long it lasts; one of our many first steps in the establishment phase of homesteading.

Corn Jungle © July 2011

27 comments:

Dani said...

Leigh - Weeds or not, your corn looks good :)

I also tried growing beans next to my corn, but I wasn't as succesfsul as yo. Well done :)

Woolly Bits said...

pumpkins are my downfall here:(( they never grow well, not outside, not in the tunnel, not in pots, not near the compost heap - I think they want a warmer summer than ireland has to offer. courgettes on the other hand are doing ok - in the tunnel! outside not so much, because they get too rocked in the wind. sweetcorn did grow well in some years, but planting beans with it didn't work for me - they ran off into the jerusalem artichockes and not around the corn:)) but then I usually only grow beans to eat fresh, in our wet climate it's difficult to keep the pods on until dried...
it must be rather difficult to work out how much to grow to what effect, until you have more experience with your land and conditions. I have been gardening for over 15 years here now, and I still haven't figured out what doesn't grow and why:)) eternal gardener's optimism - trying again next year anyway?:))

Jane said...

Hence why Monsanto has done so well with roundup ready corn, no weeds;) I used to plant my corn with enough space between the rows to run the push lawnmower between them. But now I just let the weeds grow. There are tricks you can do early on like plant the seed very early and cover with black plastic. You let the corn go to one foot long (yes it will be lying flat) then pull the plastic when the weather warms.The corn will right itself. This gives you an advantage over the weeds and it gets the corn in early. I have not tried it yet, but most market gardeners do it to get sweet corn to market in June of July up here.

Renee said...

It seems the only thing that wants to produce in my garden this year are the weeds. I believe that the garden isn't getting enough sun now as the apple and cherry trees are getting so big. Of course that shade hasn't helped the spinach at all.
I noticed the other day that my pumpkins and squash had eggs on the leaves. I'm pretty sure that they must be from squash bugs, so yesterday I blasted them with Sevin spray. It really pains me to use chemicals like that, but it pains me worse to not have any pumpkins or squash for a third year and getting out there to smush the bugs just isn't going to happen.
Once the cherries finish ripening, I'll cut back the cherry tree and see if that helps at all. We would like to move it, but I'm afraid that we've waited too long...we may have to just remove it. Planting it in the garden was a very poor idea.

Beyond My Garden said...

Everything is a jungle this year. I shucked two ears of corn that I bought this week and found 2 ears inside. One was worthless, but still interesting.
nellie

Leigh said...

Dani, thanks. We're happy it's doing so well. I think the corn and beans works better with a small patch than something as large as we're trying. I like the idea of a nitrogen fixer with the plant, but maybe it would be better to rotate the corn with cowpeas. It's a learning process!

Bettina, you're right, it is a challenge, especially when we try to garden according to what we like to eat! Too bad about your pumpkins. I planted a few more hills in the main garden and out of about 18 seeds, only two came up. I think I need different seed stock!

Jane, that sounds like what we need to do, with the row widths and lawn mower. Dan wanted to do that with the tiller, but I think the lawn mower would have the advantage that I could do it. The tiller is a bit rough to start and wrestle with. Every time I look at all those weeds though, I am so thankful that this is not Monsanto corn and that there is no Round-Up poisoning them and our land!

Renee, it's hard to figure out how things will grow. I'm trying hard to plan ahead, but there is always something unexpected! I've got squash bug eggs too, but not enough to worry about (yet!!) So far I'm just pulling the leaves off and throwing them away. We'll see how long that works!

Nellie, curious about that corn. Some of mine doesn't have husks on the ears. Prime targets for birds I'm afraid!

Richard said...

How are the crops holding-up your way with all this dry weather we are having?. Richard from Amish Stories.

Madness, Trouble and Squish said...

Weeds, weeds, weeds. The bane in the existence of all crop farmers. They will always be a problem, but there are 2 types of weds one should try to control, otherwise they will become impossible over time. #1 nutsedge - get rid of it in any way possible, #2 morning glory - they will take over everything if you let them.
Good Luck.

BrokenRoadFarm said...

I can sympathize with you on the weeds...I seem to have a real "green thumb" when it comes to them! I won't even show pictures of my vegetable beds anymore :-) It looks like you will have quite the haul despite all those weeds. I have always wanted to try pumpkins but think I need more room first.

Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking said...

I agree weeds or not your corn looks so great!! Also those sunflowers look so pretty.

fullfreezer said...

I'm having pumpkin issues this year as well. Last year, we got 450 lbs of pumpkin. This year, I think I'll be glad if I get one.
Weeds- they're doing just fine.
Judy

Sharon said...

I'm doing some catching up tonight and must say it's a pleasure to see the evolution, from the potted plants on your apartment patio until now. I think that exemplifies one of the things that makes blogs such a pleasure for me. I sometimes think I see more of my blog friends, whom I've never seen, than my local friends. The people who predict an end to blogging don't see this face of it.

Richard said...

Good news we recieved some rain last night so im sure the farmers are pretty happy with that, including the Amish farmers. Richard from Amish Stories.

Lisa said...

Hi Leigh,
Thank you so much for showing your photos including the weeds in your garden! I was beginning to think my garden was the only one in the world struggling with weeds. Sometimes I wonder if our own expectations of ourselves can be set too high?! (Talking to myself here!)

The only pumpkins I've ever been able to grow successfully have been the ones that have come up volunteer from the compost pile! One year I think I stopped count at 100 pumpkins and it was so funny because they were ripe in June and July...just seemed strange to be handling pumpkins in the summertime. Every year the pumpkins I plant never seem to grow and produce. Murphy's law I guess!

Your garden looks great and I always enjoy your posts.

Leigh said...

Richard, I had to water over the weekend because things were drying up. We never seem to get the rain as we need it!

MT&S, I have problems with nutsedge too. That one I always try to pull whenever I see it though I'm not as successful as I'd like to be! And the morning glories, never again.

BRF, funny how the weeds grow with no care, while the stuff we want to grow requires more care than we have to give! Hopefully we'll still get a good harvest. Next year we'll do it a bit differently.

Alicia, thanks! I do like the sunflowers. The black oil type aren't as tall as the mammoth grey stripe, but they're just as pretty.

Judy, how odd with the pumpkins. So many folks are having problems that I'm concluding it just isn't their year to grow.

Sharon, I was just thinking about you yesterday and thinking I needed some catch up visits too. Thanks for helping me keep it all in perspective! I read about the "end of blogging" as well. Never could figure out where they were coming from.

Richard, that's great news! We got some last night too, just 2 tenths of an inch. Hopefully you've got cooler temps too, so the moisture doesn't all evaporate away!

Lisa, thanks! The goal for this blog is to encourage others in their homesteading and food self-sufficiency efforts. It's tempting to show only the neat and pretty stuff, but that's only a smidgen of the big picture!

m said...

This year we have three rogue plants in amongst our strawberries. They could be pumpkins. They are flowering freely, not objecting to the lack of water, and setting fruit. Now, not having grown pumpkins before I have a question. We have several round lightly striped green fruits of about 12 cm (5 inch) diameter. Should we be culling and eating some of these now in order to get a better crop? I would be inclined to treat them like courgettes.

SofiaP said...

I LOVE your blog! I've just started reading it the past couple weeks... but love it, thank you:)

A note about squash bugs, I have had pretty good success with NEEM oil sprayed on the plants and see the baby squash bugs die almost immediately from spraying it:)

Leigh said...

Mary, volunteers are amazing, aren't they? Having never had an abundance of pumpkins, I'm not sure if thinning existing fruits would produce a better crop or not. My problems in the past were too many male flowers or worms. It would be interesting to try one though, just to see what it looks like on the inside and taste it.

SogiaP, thank you! I'm glad you mentioned the need oil. I've heard others rave about it too but have never tried it myself. Sounds like I really must though, because things like squash bugs can do a lot of damage.

Mr. H. said...

Your corn patch looks amazing, I bet you will reap quite the harvest from it this season.

Pea Shellers said...

Wow that most definitely is a corn jungle! But it looks great! I'll have to keep in mind the companion planting once my fiance and I get our home next year. I told him we are having a garden for sure!

Jody said...

I love the companion gardening idea you've done. It sounds like you weren't expecting to have companion weeds too! We companion planted carrots and onions with weeds here. Out of them all, the weeds seem to be benefiting the most. But I'm still pulling carrots and onions. I think you'll have a bumper crop of corn, beans and even pumpkins anyway.

Eleanor @ Planned Resilience said...

Leigh, I love your corn jungle. It is spectacular. How big is it, just out of curiosity? Do you water? Or do you depend on rain only? I would love to have the space to do this myself.

Tom Stewart said...

Leigh,
We also are having a problem with corn! Altho we did not plant any corn this year! As you know, the land we purchased was a corn field just 4 years ago. And we have volinteer corn plants all over.
And the problem with that is the corn seed was a hybred and goes back to one of the parent plants. So thies are a short plant with a deep root that can not be pulled! So we dig each one out and hope it will be our last!
NO LUCK SO FAR.

Leigh said...

Mr. H, I hope so!

Pea Shellers, it's definitely a jungle. :) Do plant corn in your garden! Nothing's better than fresh corn.

Jody, oh yes, always weeds! Can't get away from them can we. And you're right, they always do better than the vegetables. LOL

Eleanor, I bought 5 pounds of seed, which was supposed to cover a third of an acre. It didn't all germinate, and some is very spindly, so we won't harvest that much. I figured we'd just give it a try and see how it went.

Tom how odd. Have you tried to do anything with any of it? Surely one of those parent plants must have been tasty!

Leigh said...

Eleanor, I forgot, I did water part of the corn once, when it was first coming up. We aren't set up to water that large of an area though, so mostly we have to rely on rain, which has been better this summer than previously. One of these days we hope to irrigate that field with greywater.

Anonymous said...

Leigh, the trouble you are having with your curcurbits is most likely from having excessive rain. Even if your plants are blooming you will not get fruit set when the weather is too moist. I realise that someone may have already informed you of this, but if not, I hope it helps. BTW, I live in a subtropical area so understand about lack of fruit set in view of the La Nina we have experienced in the last few years.
Cheers, B

Leigh said...

B, thank you for taking time to comment and that's something to keep in mind. Actually 2011 was a very dry summer for us. The surrounding area got plenty of rain, but for some reason the storm clouds passed us by. It was frustrating because this field was too big for us to irrigate. In the end though, the pumpkins turned out not to be pumpkins at all. My saved seed was from plants that had cross pollinated! :o