Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Planting Corn

Drew and Mimi planting corn. This view shows the house in proximity.
Gardner has been asking me since we first planted seeds this year, in February, when it would be time to plant corn. Each time we planted more seeds, he would ask me, "Is it time to plant corn yet?" Each time I would explain that we had to wait until the nights warmed up reliably, and there was no danger of frost. I said if we planted too early, we would risk the corn dying or not growing right. Finally, the nights are as warm as they get here, and we moved on this project today, so we could finish it before we leave on our Yosemite vacation.

In the spot where we once had a giant scotch broom berm and hedge, and where we subsequently re-contoured the land to create two terraces on the east side of the house, Drew tractor tilled the earth and added several scoops of manure and oyster shell flour to prepare the space for corn. We also planted sunflowers and bush beans, and I've also got a few extra pumpkin starts, as well as some marigolds I wasn't sure what to do with that will go in there.

The straw bale garden isn't well suited to crops like corn, which needs a lot of food and space to grow roots. Corn also likes being grown in a block, for optimal pollination. We've never had a corn bed this size that allowed for good pollination. The further benefit of placing corn in this spot is that, if successful, the corn patch will help block wind into the rest of the yard. I have a long-term vision of planting raspberries, blueberries, artichokes, and bamboo in this spot, so an annual vegetable project will give us an idea of what that would be like, to have a permanent terrace garden at about the same height.

For now, we hope the direct sow will be successful. We don't often grow vegetables this way, due to gopher pressure, symphylans (soil pest), wind, and cold nighttime temps which make getting started difficult. I usually start my corn in flats and transplant out once they are about 4 inches high. But this patch is too big for that. This is also the first time we've used a tractor tiller to prepare a bed. It sure did go fast! I could get used to that. 

This may pave the way for similar projects in the "old" garden area, which is now dormant. We've discussed doing some light tractor farming in that area, to grow cow food, or vegetables, or maybe we will convert it to almond orchard expansion. Who knows? We are committed to letting the land guide us, and inform our decisions. For now, an experiment has been started, and we're looking forward to seeing what happens!

Mimi and Drew planting three kinds of corn

1 comment:

Stephen said...

Looking forward to hearing about how it grows. Is there a particular blend of manure you used?