Me and my fabulous son, Max

Me and my  fabulous son, Max
Powerscourt, Ireland

Friday, October 10, 2014

Corn--The Transition from Gardener to Farmer?

 We have a lot of land that we are not using right now.

Last year I tried a large garden in our already fenced side yard, with not so great results.  We did not have any animals to deter the wildlife so everything that I planted was eaten by either a jackrabbit or a ground squirrel.  If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I would not have believed it...a small adult rabbit ran and jumped through the chain link fence!  That is an opening that is around 2 inches square!

For as long as I can remember, we have always grown some of our own food, so I wasn't going to be discouraged!  We got a few kittens and then added some raised beds so we could at least grown something to harvest!

Late Summer 2013--added raised beds
So these were some quick and easy beds put together by my fabulous husband, Larry.  They are untreated cedar fence posts and green, plastic construction fencing attached with a stable gun.  They worked, but not really utilizing all the space we have!

This year we decided to go bigger.  Because we live on acreage, Larry could fulfil his lifelong dream of owing a tractor.  I have to say, it makes work in the garden a lot easier.  We decided to carve out a good sized space East of the existing corral.  We have also added two enormous puppies to our family to help deter the wildlife.

Spring 2014--created a large garden area

Enclosed Garden area with 5 rolls of construction fence
Larry prepped the soil and we added composted horse manure and worked it in.
We enclosed the garden area with more of the green construction fencing and planted!  I have tried several times to grow corn. When we lived in San Diego, I would try just about every year with no luck.  Living here in the West Antelope Valley we get plenty of sunlight, so with my trusty Earthway Garden Seeder I direct seeded six 50' rows of corn. 

Con seedlings about a week after planting

Corn is progressing nicely

Mature Corn!!

A typical mid-Summer harvest--corn, jalapeno and yellow squash

We planted an organic, heirloom variety of corn called Double Standard.  The early ears we got were fairly good, but starchier than what you buy at the grocery.  I think my pallet has become accustomed to a sweeter variety of corn as more hybrid varieties of corn are sold today.

Initially I had planned to can the majority of the corn we did not eat from fresh.  We had a very busy few weeks in late August so  we did not get the corn picked soon enough.  On to plan B!

We let the corn dry on the stalk for another few weeks in the garden.  We then picked it and brought it inside to fully dry.  After it was dry, it was fairly easy to remove the dried kernels from the cobs.  As I was researching, I found several mechanized methods for removing the kernels, but I found it pretty easy to do by hand wearing gardening gloves.

Dried Corn, about a bushel

Dried corn removed from the cobs

Our harvest, preserved as dried corn
 So all in, we have three and a half quarts of dried corn, so just shy of a gallon.  I will most likely grind this up and use it to make things like corn bread and polenta.  As for next year, I'm really not sure if I'll try to grow corn again.  I'll see how I feel in the Spring!

Now the real question is, does growing corn in long rows with the help of a tractor make you a farmer?  What is the line between gardener and farmer?

Cheers for now~

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