Growing our own grain, has been one of our homestead goals. It's part of our desire to be food self sufficient for both us, and our animals. The easiest and most logical grain to start with is corn. Last January we chose and cleared an area for it, and at the beginning of the month our neighbor tractor tilled it for us. Decided when to plant, has been the topic of much table time discussion.
Our go-to book for information has been Gene Logsdon's Small-Scale Grain Raising. Besides providing the practical information we need, his style of writing is down-to-earth readable and confidence building. (In fact, if you're not familiar with Gene, check out his blog, The Contrary Farmer. Better yet, read his post "What's Your Game Plan As Corn Prices Skyrocket?" It will probably motivate you to grow your own corn too!) One thing he cautions, is to not be in a hurry to plant corn, because soil temperature and conditions are key to a successful crop.
A couple of days ago, our soil temperature was 67º F and the soil seemed fairly dry. Dan had a few days off before his next trip out, and the weather map looked like this.....
|Weather map on Wednesday morning|
With that system heading our way, we decided to go for it. If we got another deluge, there was no telling when the soil would dry out. Nor if Dan would be home when conditions were right. Real life decisions can't always go by the book!
|Trying to get 'er done before the next storm|
We figured the tiller could make the rows for us faster than a hoe, with the additional benefit of breaking ground that had been compacted by April's rains.
|We planted Trucker's Favorite white,|
an open pollinated variety.
We plotted out a plan, he tilled, and I dropped seeds and covered them with the hoe. As we worked the sky got darker, the winds picked up, and we got a sprinkle. We pressed on and it all blew over.
By the end of the day there wasn't a cloud in sight, the entire area was tilled, and we had our first section of corn planted. You can see a strip of grass running left to right at about center of the photo above. That divides our two sections. We planted the section nearest to front, using about half of our 5 pounds of seed.
We've decided we're going to wait a few weeks to a month or so to plant the next section. Since this is new to us, it will give us two plots to compare, because experiential knowledge is a valuable thing. As much as we hate to run into problems or make mistakes, they are the basis of homestead common sense and wisdom. It's why I often say "something is better than nothing;" because I know I'll always learn something valuable, even if the crop doesn't do very well.
My hope now is for good germination. Last summer's sweet corn didn't do very well in that department, so this is a concern. Then it will be pollination. I'd also like to grow popcorn, so hopefully we can plant to stagger pollination without crosses occurring. Another unknown is whether or not we've planted enough. Or not enough. This is something else we need to learn from this first patch.
Later I'll plant pole beans and some pumpkins in with the corn. After it's all harvested, we'll sow the plot with winter wheat. My experimental patch is doing well...
|My wheat is heading out.|