Somehow, despite our neglect, our corn crop came to fruition. The damage from shield bugs was not too bad in the end, but we did lose some to the birds. We are sure the crop would have been much bigger if we had side dressed with manure, or applied a foliar feed. Still, we are pleased enough with our first corn harvest. The colours of the kernels are beautiful. Some of them look as if they are lit from within! I am planning to string up the corn to dry. I think it will look wonderful hanging in the kitchen.
I am not sure if we’ll grow this variety of corn (“Indian Flint Corn”) again. In the end, we didn’t plant quite enough to have a viable population for seed saving, so our decision will depend partly on availability. Also, we have friends at Kerikeri and Takahue who are growing heirloom corn, and it might make better sense to grow the same variety they do — so that we could collectively maintain a bigger population for saving seed.
We have also started to harvest the first of the kumara. Kumara is a New Zealand sweet potato. We enjoy them baked, roasted, boiled, in soup, or even as the main ingredient in a variation on the traditional potato salad. We made a saute of peppers, zucchini, onion and garlic, added balsamic vinegar, salt, and olive oil, and mixed it together with cubes of boiled kumara. Very tasty!
When we lived over at Kaikohe, my Dad used to tell me to bend each kumara shoot into a U shape before planting it, so that the roots would be facing up towards the surface of the soil. This way, the tubers would grow close to the surface rather than growing impossibly deep in the soft volcanic soil. I decided not to bother with the U shape here on the Farmlet, considering that our soil is heavy clay. Now that harvest time has come, I’m amazed at how deep the kumara have managed to grow, even in our heavy soil. Digging them is proving to be a bit of a mission! Lesson learned: Next spring I’ll bend the kumara shoots as I plant them.