Enchanted Corn Forest

Sorry this is not the second part of the pig saga! Kevin’s still working on that. Meanwhile, in the garden. . .

The corn we planted before Owen was born is very tall now, and has started to form ears. I’m not sure what kind of harvest we’ll get, as we haven’t side dressed the beds with manure, applied foliar feed or watered it through the dry spell. The shield bugs are also numerous this year after the mild winter, and I’ve heard that they are very partial to corn. Successful crop or not, the corn looks fantastic — like an enchanted corn forest, more than 8 feet high.

Corn forest

As far as the “three sisters” planting (corn, beans and squash planted together), we’d do it again, but would make a few changes next time!
1. We would surround the beds with weed mat to stop the encroachment of kikuyu grass and other weeds. This has been especially bad for the low-growing squash, which have ended up getting practically smothered. None of our curcurbits have done very well this year anyway, but those ones really didn’t get much of a chance.
2. We would plant the beans around the outside of the bed. I’m not sure what I was thinking when I planted some of them in the middle of the corn. Even if they are doing ok in there, I’m going to have a devil of a job fighting my way through the corn to pick them! The beans I planted around the outside are cropping well, and seem to be happy climbing up the corn stalks. I certainly want to plant corn and beans together again in the future, as it saves time compared to building teepees or frames for the beans.

Whether or not we get a decent crop from our own corn, I’m still planning more experiments with the sacks of maize we bought recently. There is a recipe for polenta in Nourishing Traditions that I’d love to try. I like the idea of serving a hearty stew of wild pork on a bed of creamy polenta made from freshly ground cornmeal.

What else is going on in the garden? We have harvested our garlic, which is now dry and waiting to be braided and hung up for storage. Onions are ready to harvest also. While our garlic has been a bit disappointing this year, we are absolutely delighted with the onions. I’ll be sure to post a story and some photos when we lift them. We have been picking borlotti beans, as well as the first of the tomatoes. And I’ve never had oats to deal with before. . . but I have a hunch that our experimental oat patch may also be ready for harvest. All this, as well as a delicious baby to feed and play with! These days, life is so full of tasty things that I hardly know what to do next!

3 Responses to “Enchanted Corn Forest”

  1. Richard says:

    I find the posts Kevin and yourself make to your blog both interesting and inspirational/educational. I hope to be doing much the same when I can get out America in a year or so time back to New Zealand.

    What do you do for water? Having mentioned my interest in owning a property for this purpose, people tend to mention water rights. Isn’t there a drought on in New Zealand at the moment?

  2. Eileen says:

    I’ll be doing an experiment growing quinoa this year in western PA, US, this year.
    Might be too late, but am also considering small patches of wheat and oats.
    Wonderful to see pictures from down under when up here in the US, we are in the midst of snow, ice, windstorms, etc.

  3. Rebecca says:

    Hi there,
    @Richard: Thanks for your kind comments about our blog. Our water system is a gravity feed from a spring up the hill. As far as we know, this is a very reliable source, but we are working on building multiple redundancies into the water system. We had a dam dug last year, and would like to collect roof water as well. We are lucky with our water supply (we were on the lookout for a place with a good water supply when we were shopping for our little block of land), but we still want to make our situation even more secure in this regard. There is actually a drought in New Zealand at the moment, but not up here in Northland. In this region, we are actually having a wetter-than-average summer.
    Good luck with your plans to return to New Zealand!

    @Eileen: Good luck with your grain-growing experiments! We’ll be interested to hear how you get on.