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Too Late for Corn?

 
pollinator
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So, I'm finally going to be getting out east, at least temporarily, this weekend.  I'm going to start some sort of garden this weekend, though it'll be the latest start I've ever had, by more than a month.

On the plus side, there's about 16 hours of daylight and the soil's up to temp.  On the downside, it'll be June 23rd when I direct seed.  I've never grown corn before and I'm wondering if it would be worth planting at this late date.  I'd love to do a 3 sister's approach with some corn, zucchini, and beans and peas.  The zuch seems like a possibility, but I'm not sure about the corn.  I've got an 82 day variety and a 78 day corn.  Is it worth a try?

Also, I'm assuming tomatoes are out, even early varieties?  I am thinking of a tunnel, or possibly a small heated (late in the season) greenhouse for these.  What do you think?
 
gardener
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I'm sorry, but "out east" is kinda vague.  The first approximation of an answer is going to come from looking at the average date of first frost at your planting location and counting the number of growing days you can anticipate after June 23.  What is the average date of first frost "out east"?
 
Timothy Markus
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Good point, Dan.  It's very close to the Northumberland straight, about a mile.  The closest first frost date is Oct 1-10, but it may be a few days later than that, given the proximity to the ocean.

edit:  Still didn't get all the way there... It's in New Brunswick, Canada.
 
Dan Boone
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So you are looking at as much as 110 days of growing season.  But I don't know anything at all about that climate, or about growing corn.  It sounds like you have plenty of days, but perhaps not enough sun/heat at the end of the season, I can't say.  

The tomatoes, though -- that should be totally doable.  In zone 3 Alaska there are 50-60 day varieties like Early Tanana; although that's a regional variety originally developed by the local land grant university, I can't imagine Canada doesn't have similar short-season varietals available.  


I know you were talking about direct seeding; if that's essential then disregard what follows.  But here in Oklahoma we are still at the tail end of availability of (leggy, sad, but very mature) tomato starts at nursery and big box stores; if you are willing to buy pre-started plants, they will often be already to the flowering/fruiting stage by now.    Remember that you don't need your tomatoes to turn red for a good harvest; if they are well developed and green, they'll ripen on your kitchen table after first frost.  In this climate, where first frost is as late as mid november, I can start tomatoes from seed in mid august, and harvest green tomatoes off those vines at first frost for eating up until Christmas.
 
Dan Boone
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Dan Boone wrote:The tomatoes, though -- that should be totally doable.  In zone 3 Alaska there are 50-60 day varieties like Early Tanana; although that's a regional variety originally developed by the local land grant university, I can't imagine Canada doesn't have similar short-season varietals available.



Just to clarify, even a short-season tomato that's said to need 60 days to produce fruit is probably counting from the time you transplant your seedlings (which they would expect you to have pre-started indoors) into the ground until the fruit begins to ripen.  Figure the usual six weeks to produce robust tomato starts; that adds another 45 days.  Even so, that's 105 days if you can source seeds for a 60-day short-season tomato variety; just within your time budget.  And if you're direct seeding in the ground, you eliminate transplant shock, which ought to cut a week or ten days off the time.  Growing from seed under bright June/July sun (instead of weak indoor light) ought to cut off a bit more.  It still seems doable.
 
master pollinator
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Keep in mind that Tomatoes do not have to be ripe when you pick them before the first frost - they only need to be mature, and will ripen in the house if stored in a single layer on paper.  This is especially true of "winter keeper" varieties.  One year we had homegrown Tomatoes at Christmas because we had carefully harvested them right before frost and stored them, using them as they ripened, and culling any that spoiled (very few spoiled as I recall).
 
pollinator
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In my experience direct seeding tomatoes the last three years there are several less than fifty day varieties especially of cherry tomatoes. The varieties 42 Days, Forest Fire, Anmore Dewdrop, Sweet Cherriette, and ordinary old Sungold are all pretty fast. I wouldn't wait for seed from the mail though. I would buy seed or already started plants of the earliest varieties I could find at the store at this point.

Some corns are very early. There are some very early sweet, flour, and flint type corns. Planting late can have a bit of a dwarfing effect on some varieties.

So just last weekend I planted some of my early sweet corn grex and some Mandan squash.


 
pioneer
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All depends on location I can plant corn as late as July 4th.  But I intend to plant any day now... Today I took corn kernels off of 10 ears and mixed in a jar and I went for short season, so no Cherokee white I am going to plant parching lavender Mandan which is a short flour corn.  I won't get rain let alone frost until November,

It would be too late for peppers
 
Timothy Markus
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Thanks, everyone.  I'm going to give everything a try, I think.  I've got great seed from William Dam; I've had fantastic success with their seed for years now.  I've mostly started seeds 1-2 months before transplanting, but I've experimented with direct seeding and I've liked the results.

I think I'll try some tomatoes and even some peppers in an area that I can erect a greenhouse around.  I may provide some supplemental heat later in the season, depending on how it goes.  Regardless, I think it'll be a good trial.  It's worth noting that there was a frost warning about 7-10 days ago, so that's the climate.  I've also found applications of compost and worm casting teas help with growth and production, so I hope to do that here.

I'll keep a record of what I do and post it here for posterity.  Even if things don't pan out, I'll learn something.
 
gardener
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With 110 days before average first frost, warm soils, & 16 hour days I would sure try to get a harvest. What is there to lose? Some seeds & a day or two? Nothing ventured nothing gained.
 
pollinator
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You mentioned growing these in a greenhouse of sorts?

We're zone 3 here and I'm still learning what I can and can't pull off.  Average last frost is almost the same as the desert I used to live in, but FIRST frost is waaayyyy sooner.  So that cuts the season shorter.  BUT.  We grew tomaroes and peppers in the greenhouse last year and it wasn't until NOVEMBER that the bell pepper plants finally died back when we got some teens/single digit temps.  The tomatoes were toast in October I think.  But it bought us at least 2-3 weeks extra time.  If we'd been heating that greenhouse?  We could've bought even longer.

I've just direct seeded corn myself.  It's an experiment.  It's a super early '70 day' sweet corn.  The stalks are puny and the plant doesn't get very big, so I planted it in a small empty greenhouse to help finish the corn if it's getting cold by then.  I soaked the corn over night to hopefully speed up sprouting.  I'm also just now planting squashes and cucumber starts outside.  I've been chain sprouting all year and planting everything everywhere I can to see what I can get away with.

I planted another early corn variety into large 5 gallon pots about a month ago.  Not sure when exactly, but after frost and once the warm weather hit.  That corn is about a foot tall now, woohoo!  

I'd say try anything and everything, as long as you c an afford to do so!  You'll learn a few things no matter what
 
Timothy Markus
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The seed's paid for, so I'm going to plant 1/4 to 1/3 of it this year.  I'll put up row houses on the tomatoes and peppers, and later a greenhouse if I can.  I'll see how it all goes and post the progress here.

At worst, it'll help me get a feel for the new place.  It's the same hardiness zone, but a little over 3* north and by the ocean.  Later last frost, but later first frost, so next year should be more productive.
 
Dan Boone
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If you're having trouble getting everything done right at first, consider cloches (little individual greenhouses) for the seedlings when they first come up.  

The Europeans used to make these very expensively out of heavy blown glass -- like cake covers only bigger.  But plastic soda bottles with the bottom cut off work pretty good too when stuff is small.  You have to monitor closely -- it's easy to scorch things as the weather warms up -- but you can give your little plants quite a boost this way.  

Just about any transparent or translucent item of plastic or glass -- the bigger the better, ideally but not necessarily with venting at the top -- can be pressed into service as a cloche.  
 
pioneer
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Dan Boone wrote:If you're having trouble getting everything done right at first, consider cloches (little individual greenhouses) for the seedlings when they first come up.  

The Europeans used to make these very expensively out of heavy blown glass -- like cake covers only bigger.  But plastic soda bottles with the bottom cut off work pretty good too when stuff is small.  You have to monitor closely -- it's easy to scorch things as the weather warms up -- but you can give your little plants quite a boost this way.  

Just about any transparent or translucent item of plastic or glass -- the bigger the better, ideally but not necessarily with venting at the top -- can be pressed into service as a cloche.  



I use old aquariums. I have 30 or 40 of them I've picked up over the years. I flip them upside down and spray paint the bottoms white. The paint (and the sides of course) let light in, but don't let in enough heat to cook the plants. It seems like everyone has an old aquarium sitting around they want to get rid of.   You find them,  often free, by asking friends and neighbors, or visiting garage sales. Con - they take up a lot of room to store.
 
master pollinator
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Here in Maine we have planted as late as Mid-July. We used 60 day corn to do it, but still got some nice cobs with two per stalk, it was just that the corn was stunted in height. No big deal if you are just taking the cob.

If you have the seed, you have nothing to lose really, but it does limit you because the days to maturity is set for you already.
 
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