Monday, July 23, 2007

Sure You Can Grow Corn in the Home Garden!

We have harvested about a dozen ears of the Honey 'N Pearl Corn from Park's Seeds so far this year, and it has been fantastic! This corn is so sweet and crisp that you can't get enough of it!

Corn is pretty inexpensive in the Summer, usually priced at around 3 for $1, so we didn't grow corn to save money. We grew it for the flavor that you cannot get from any store bought or even farmer's market bought corn. I have read that corn loses its flavor within minutes of picking, so we grew some to put that theory to the test!

Before picking the ears, I get my pot of water boiling. Then I run up to the garden, pick a couple ears, shuck them and toss them into the uncovered pot of boiling water. After exactly 3 minutes in the water, they are perfect and ready to eat. They're not off the plant for 5 minutes before they're in my belly, and I have never tasted a fresher ear of corn in my life! So, I think the fresh test theory has been proven!


A common mistake people make is cooking corn too long. I know, because I used to be a culprit of over-cooking before my mother-in-law set me straight. It only takes 3 minutes in boiling water! The corn gets tough after 3 minutes, and the rest of the time is spent trying to soften it up back into an edible form. This makes the corn much less crisp and juicy. So, don't overcook.

We planted three nine-foot rows of corn in May. I was concerned that this would not be a big enough crop to cross-pollinate the ears, so I did some hand-pollinating to ensure a full crop. Hand-pollinating corn is very easy.

The tassles at the top of the plant hold the pollen, and the ears of course are the fruit. So, when the silks begin to form on the ears, break off one twig from the tassle of a plant:


Then rub the tassle on the silks of the ear of a neighboring plant. Don't rub the tassle of a plant on its own silk since corn needs to cross-pollinate with other plants, and be conservative when picking twigs off the tassle since you want to give the plant a chance to pollinate naturally. Try to pick only one or two twigs from one plant's tassle.


I am hoping for a harvest of about 40 ears this year, so there will be many more weeks of fresh corn to come!

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