Now that the weather’s getting chilly here in Seattle, I decided to harvest the corn I’ve been growing in the front yard. Now, as you know, Bob, corn is wind- rather than insect-pollinated, which means you need a certain density of corn stalks if you want the cobs to develop properly, and I wasn’t sure I’d planted enough stalks to hit critical mass. Looks like I did, though—the cobs were small (maybe six inches long, and cute) but perfectly formed, with no missing kernels.
The taste, alas, was kinda meh. Gummy and starchy, not “super-sweet” as the seed packet promised. But I didn’t really care—it was a trip to be eating actual corn that I’d grown myself. Maybe next year I’ll try an ornamental variety.
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The poor taste might have been because they were left too long. Sweet corn is best if you harvest it shortly after the “silks” at the top of the ears dry up. I’m not sure what the growing season in Seattle is like, but in Michigan I recall this happening in early-to-mid-August. After that point, the sugars in the kernels get converted to starch and eating the corn becomes a lot like eating library paste.
Yeah, I was wondering if that might be the explanation. The silks withered a couple weeks ago, but I was worried about picking them too soon. I have a second crop still growing in the back garden, but I don’t think it’s going to reach maturity in time. Next year…
When is corn ripe?
As far as checking ripeness, we used to just peel back the husks enough to see the kernels, and picked it as soon as they had filled out to the point where they were packed closely together. It turns out that peeling back the husk as much as a third of the way down the ear doesn’t actually interfere much with the maturation of the kernels.
Christopher had great fun (and success–with the corn anyway) doing a little three sisters garden. Making the mounds is kind of insane.
I didn’t bother with mounds, just alternated corn and sunflower seeds every 12″ or so. I also planted a pumpkin vine, which has snaked neatly among the stalks.
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