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Patch of contrary sweet corn surprises permies newbie.  RSS feed

 
Kevin Teeter
Posts: 7
Location: Minnesota, USA (Zone 4b)
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I wanted to share my first experience growing sweet corn, and describe how it went.

The land I planted on has been tilled alot over the previous years. I am growing on a friends land and he loves to till, upwards of 6 times in a season. The "soil" is sandy with not much organic matter.
I planted a patch of sweet corn 25ft by 25 ft.
I watered the corn occasionally (maybe 4 times) till it was about 1ft. tall. And weeded right around the plants once with a scuffle hoe.
I fertilized it with a total of 20 gallons of free! urine fertilizer.
Then the weeds really took off they got about knee high, and my other conventional gardener friends were admonishing me as to the value of thoroughly weeding.
Well I was reading Masanobu Fukuoka's Natural Farming at the time, so I had other thoughts about weeds.
So I simply chopped them down with a Japanese sickle and left the debris in the rows.
They again got knee high and again I chopped them down.
We had a dry spell and I watered only once.
My corn plants by no means look impressive, kind of sad looking to be honest. So I thought I was not going to get anything from them. I was about to cut them down since the season is winding down, but was surprised to peel back a husk and find full juicy kernels, I took 6 ears home right away and cooked em up, mmm delicious.
The ears are small about 4 to 6 in.

Over all $2.07 in seed, plus a little bit of time, 5 waterings, and chopping down weeds, I have probably 2 to 3 dozen ears, not big ears but good tasting non the less. $2 will only get you about 6 ears of sweet corn from a road side stand around here, so I am quite surprised and happy with my little ugly surprisingly tasty corns.

I can't wait to transition to no-till and watch how the plants do.

So to all those who are thinking about trying some "contrary gardening", I encourage you, with home size gardens the risk is small and you may be pleasantly surprised what those ugly plants can produce.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9742
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Congratulations on your success!
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
Posts: 1387
Location: northern California
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Well, if you had weeded it more, and probably watered it more (unless it rained good about every week), you should have gotten a good sized ear off of every stalk (provided they were spaced right...18 inches or so each way or the equivalent. Annual crops are usually more or less like that...the more attention they get, the better the yield, up to a point. Permaculture techniques really shine best with perennial plants chosen for suitability to your climate. Fukuoka's methods were slowly perfected over his entire life, backed up by knowledge from even further back. Plus, I think his main crop was paddy rice, which is a rather unique system in that the flood irrigation suppresses the weeds, thus there is no seedbank to infect the winter crop, whatever that is. His other main crops were fruit trees as I recall.....
 
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