Monday, May 21, 2012

Corn and other late spring news

I planted my corn patch, 125 seeds in a 10'x10' block, about half of which will be thinned out. I didn't add more compost, but I did add a good bit of Steve Solomon's All-Purpose Fertilizer mix. I planted in rows 20" apart, seeds about 8" apart, which I'm thinking I will thin to 16" apart. This results in each plant getting 320 square inches. Carol Deppe plants her corn 42" apart (including the path between them), and about 8-12" in the row. That is between 336-504 square inches per plant. I'm a little below the low end, but I know part of her row spacing is for ease of access, and I'm hoping between that, my deep working of the soil, and occasional organic fertilization, my plants will feel like they have enough space to pop a couple good ears out. Hybrid varieties grown commercially are planted 8" apart in rows 18" apart, after all. I planted the seeds in furrows which I'd walked down barefoot (to restore soil capillarity), then covered them with ~1-3" of loose soil, which I pressed lightly on with the back of the hoe. I covered the whole bed with remay to make sure crows don't pull up the seedlings.

If each plant bears two ears, I'll have 120 cobs to grind flour from. How many pounds is that? For me, probably a year's supply of corn flour, which I'm going to have to learn to use.

I also planted four Sweet Meat - Oregon Homestead squash seedlings. Their taproots were knocking against the bottom of their 4" pots after less than a week, so it was time to get them in the ground, because, as Carol says: "they have a big old taproot that heads right for the center of the earth, which inevitably gets broken off in transplanting." Bush-type summer squash, on the other hand, can be more easily transplanted. That said, my transplanting job was a bit rough - the soil did not hold together well. Next time, for winter squash I would use soil blocks or a potting soil that coheres better. I planted two to each hill, each made with half a 5-gal bucket of compost and all-purpose organic fertilizer mixed in. The hills are about 7 feet apart, and I will leave only one plant per hill once the more vigorous of each pair declares itself. I covered the hills with remay.

Four tomato plants are now in the ground, too: a Stupice, an Amish Paste, a Sweet 100, and one of the 'Shelf Yellow' variety which I saved seed from last year. I started the seeds about 4-7 weeks ago. Really shoulda kept track of that. They're not as big as they were this time last year, but I think they're big enough. They've been hardened off for two weeks. For the last week, they've been brought in only on cold nights.

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