April 30, 2011

Field Corn Planted!

Thank you to everyone who has asked how we've been faring the severe weather this month. We've never lost power nor sustained property damage, so all in all, we've been very fortunate. The storms having been coming pretty regularly, and besides the garden, we we've been wondering what to do about planting our field corn.

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 67ยบ 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.

Half planted. 

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.
... and that's encouraging. That's the plan anyway, and hopefully we're off to a good start.


Dani said...

Glad you're safe and sound - have seen the hectic tornado's / storms on our news over here.

I did a MUCH smaller planting than you of corn last year - also in two sowings. Got a better yield from the later sown one.

Is popcorn a different corn seed??? I never knew that LOL

Granny said...

Your ground looks so good! Ours is horrible clay and so soggy we can't begin to start planting.

Sherri B. said...

It is so good to hear you are safe and that you finished, at least, part of your planting.

Lynda said...

Glad to hear all is well on your homestead. It's still a bit cool here, but starting tomorrow 80 degree days for over a week...in go the sweet potatoes and the corn.

Leigh said...

Dani, thank you for that tidbit on your two plantings. I'm glad we're doing two with ours.

Yup, popcorn is different, though I think any corn can be "popped." :)

Granny, it wasn't quite as good as we first thought. Dan hit several wet spots with the tiller, which just clumped the dirt. Not too sure how well the corn will grow there. We'll see!

Sherri, thanks! It's a relief to get part in, I admit that.

Lynda, isn't the weather crazy? I got my mail order sweet potatoes in the ground the other day. I'm going to wait a bit before I set out my own. Another experiment!

BrokenRoadFarm said...

Looks great! Glad you are safe and lucky you did not get the torrential rains we got here...glad my garden is still in the greenhouse or we would have lost it all.

Jo said...

Congratulations on your corn plot! Your wheat looks fabulous. I'm gonna have to pick up that book and give it a good read, I am jealous of your grain growing!

Jane @ Hard Work Homestead said...

Just an observation I have made with corn. The field corn can go undisturbed unless I wait to long to bring it in and then the deer start at it. The popcorn was an instant rodent magnet. I would have thought it would be undesirable like field corn, but the groundhogs started on it even before it was ripe. And sweet corn, well we all know how the raccoons know just the second it is ready. So protect your popcorn, it must be tasty unripe.

Leigh said...

BRF, thanks! Sounds like those greenhouses come in handy for a number of reasons. We have one on the "list," and hopefully it will get built sooner rather than later.

Jo, better hold the congratulations until we see how well it grows! The book is a must have, for anyone interested in growing grain. And actually, a small plot is easy to manage.

Jane, my but you've had the critter experience. We grew popcorn fairly successfully last year, with the biggest problem being corn earworms. We do have groundhogs and deer occasionally, but I've never seen 'coons. That doesn't mean we don't have them! More things to keep an eye out for.

Sharon said...

I'm glad you're doing okay in this mess of storms. We're scratching our heads at our forecasts, but we don't have anything to deal with like tornado. The weather gods must be crazy!

Mama Pea said...

Your homestead/farm has such a feel to it like the self-sustaining family farms of days gone by. I know you and your hubby will eventually be a total success because you're so determined and armed with a willingness to work and commen sense intelligence. Keep the posts on your adventures coming!

DebbieB said...

I'm praying for your safety as well. This is a nasty weather time - we often get flooding in early May.

We planted a handful of corn two weeks ago, and it's 8" high now. Interesting experiment for us!

Leigh said...

Sharon, thanks. It's crazy! I just hope it isn't too dry this summer!

Mama Pea, well, we're working on it. Sometimes we don't feel like we're making progress because the life is so day to day. Your kind words are encouraging! Like a welcome pat on the back.

Debbie, thank you so much. Your prayers are most welcome. How fun to have some corn planted! I hope it does well for you.

robin said...

Nice. Here is to hoping you have a wonderful yield!