Grit Blogs > Another Kind of Drew

Corn Problems: Growing Goonies Corn

A photo of Drew OdomCorn needs nitrogen rich soil with a neutral pH to grow. Corn is wind pollinated and does best planted in blocks rather than in rows (despite traditional methods). Corn needs a fair amount of water and does best when watered by natural, nitrogen-rich, rain.

The corn we planted this year (for the first time mind you) was planted in poorly composted and fed soil; not to mention tight, crisp, clay soil. It was planted in long rows; two varieties – North Carolina sweet and common field corn. Our corn received only 9 total days of rain since planted on April 10 and 11. The rest of the water came from sprinklers set for an hour every 3 days.

The result was less than we had hoped for.

Goonie Corn

Today I realized that several of our stalks were completely ready to be stripped; tassles were browning and cobs were rounded rather than pointed. The only problem was many of the cobs were a bit soft and showed signs of Earworms and Armyworms. I had mixed reactions for sure. I was pleased that we had, in fact, grown corn – tall stalks even. But I was not pleased that so much of our corn was useless. It was bittersweet.

After about 35 minutes or so of picking I brought the basket of husks up to Pan and presented her with the cobs of our labor; full of pride, full of appreciation, and somewhat full of apologies. I had promised her earlier in the season that this year we wouldn’t have to supplement our freezer with purchased corn from other local farmers. I told her we would have our own corn!

Without an adverse word she shucked them, cleaned them, and prepared them for dinner. As I sat down to eat I was presented – lovingly, mind you – with some of the ugliest corn I had ever laid my eyes on. Kernels were missing. Kernels were small. Kernels were swollen. And I haven’t even begun to talk about the taste ... or should I say lack thereof. If it weren’t for butter my saying grace would have sounded as such: “Lord, thank you for allowing us to grow this corn and for it filling an empty spot in our stomachs. But Lord, could you place upon it a miracle; one that involves taste ... please? Amen.”

So what I have I learned from all this? I have learned that field corn is best reserved for livestock and not cross-pollination experiments. I have learned that anyone can plant a seed but only a farmer with heart can patiently prepare the soil to cultivate a solid result. And I learned that my wife loves me and my Goonie corn!

anotherkindofdrew
7/26/2010 11:52:13 AM

@Shannon - You are absolutely right. Until it is eaten and in your tummy...it is an experiment on a natural scale! Good luck with yours. Keep us posted!


s.m.r. saia
7/26/2010 11:22:30 AM

Hmmn...this is our first year with corn too....also in rows, also in clay soil, also rain supplemented with the sprinkler...also impressively tall...you've got me wondering. You've also given me something to go by in determining whether or not the cobs are ready to harvest. Thanks. Sorry about your corn. But, hey, in the garden, everything's an experiement. Right?????


mountain woman
7/23/2010 12:46:40 PM

Yup, Andrew, much better! Can't wait to tell Mountain Man tonight about my adventures in the garden. Thanks for the smiles today. LOL!


anotherkindofdrew
7/23/2010 8:48:14 AM

@MountainWoman - Okay, okay. For those refined southern women out there who are perhaps too delicate to use popular vernacular for tomato parts, let us say "you should trim all the suckers below the primary stem junction." hahahaha. LOL. Is that better? hahahahahahahaha.


mountain woman
7/23/2010 8:38:11 AM

Hey there Andrew, Just dropped by to say I'm growing a tomato jungle and I went back and found your pruning video. Thanks so much!!! I'm off to prune my wayward vines using your methods but geesh, I sure wish it wasn't called below the crotch. Can't there be some other word for us refined Southern ladies :-) Thanks for all the help. I need to bookmark your posts.


cindy murphy
7/23/2010 5:29:13 AM

I think you're gonna have to wait for the mustard greens story, Andrew. As you mentioned to Dave, I'll probably post my own blog here about my total veggie garden experience this year too - the good, the bad, and the (really, really) ugly. I think I shall call it 'In the Vegetable Garden of Good and Evil'; the mustard greens fall in the 'evil' category. Enjoy your weekend.


anotherkindofdrew
7/22/2010 8:30:25 AM

@Cindy - Well now I definitely want to hear about it. Not even your spouse would eat them? WOW! What did you do? hahahahah


cindy murphy
7/22/2010 5:28:06 AM

Hi, Andrew. Ahhh...trial and error, is there not any better way to learn than by firsthand experimenting? Remind me to mention sometime about my experience this year with mustard greens - which I've grown for years, actually. But this year....even Hubs, who loves me and my greens, wouldn't eat it!


vickie
7/21/2010 3:23:11 PM

Andrew, I bet if you closed your eyes that was good corn. Corn is a hard one for me too-seems like every year something happens to the patch. Both this year and last year a wind storm as come and knocked all the stalks sideways. Last year I was unable to put them back up because of the flood and something ate the corn. This year after much work the stalks are mostly in the upright position. I'm kind of jealous of that pot of yours- our are not anywhere near ready. vickie


anotherkindofdrew
7/21/2010 3:01:59 PM

You got it Dave. A post about the amazing amounts of food we are processing and puttin' up coming at you next time. And yes, we do have some amazing tasting melons. :)


nebraska dave
7/21/2010 2:15:13 PM

Drew, don’t feel discouraged. Every year is different and every place can’t necessarily grow everything. Like you have indicated corn will sap the nitrogen out of the soil and look pretty pathetic when there’s none to sap. It saddens my heart to know how they keep dosing our soil with synthetic nitrogen to keep the corn yield up here. Corn also needs rain at certain points in growth and hot humid weather to grow. Try again next year. If you just can’t get any good corn, don’t feel disappointed because some of the best melons come from your area. We can grow them here but they just don’t taste the same as those Southern grown melons. That’s the thing about gardening; every year is a new adventure. Some things work one year and not the next. It’s a constant challenge with weather, bugs, and soil condition. The weather has certainly been hot and humid here the last few days. We have had what I call nuisance rains because all it does it generate more humidity. I had family here last weekend from Las Vegas and they kept complaining about how hot it was. I reminded them that the temperature was only 95 while back in Las Vegas it was 110. They indicated that the humidity was awful and they just couldn’t take it. Bunch of wimps. They left after three days headed for Iowa which I told them wouldn’t be any better. I’m thinking it will be awhile before they return in the July. Next post, tell us about some of the great things that are happening in your garden.