Trial and error

Oh dear, several of my recent garden trials have gone somewhat pear-shaped lately.

The most obvious of these was the pumpkin pruning. I returned home to find that my pruning trial had been, as the saying goes, terminated with extreme prejudice. To be blunt no pumpkin was in evidence, gone, disappeared, nada. I can only guess that it got knocked off by the hose as it was pulled past the garden corner it was sitting on. I won’t be asking my neighbour who was kindly watering my garden when we were away as I may need to call on her for help in the future. I’ll have to try Monty Don’s suggestion (The Ivington Diaries, Bloomsbury Publishing 2009), of using his childrens spare cricket stumps on the corners of garden beds to stop the hose demolishing plants on the edges of garden.

Well the corn may be as high as an elephants eye, but the cobs are somewhat less than impressive. Those kernels that have been fertilised are very moist and tasty but they are in the minority as you can see from the picture. Thankfully subsequent cobs have had a greater number of kernels develop fully.

While I was trying to find out if there was any way of improving the fertilisation of the corn I came across the University of Illinois extension services website who, if nothing else provided this somewhat useful bit of trivia. Sweet corn may be divided into three distinct types according to genetic background: normal sugary (SU) which is where our Golden Bantam fits in, sugary enhancer (SE) and supersweet (Sh2). Details on some of the varieties that fit into these categories can be found at their website. I’m not surprised, but also not impressed that corn is being developed with increasing sweetness – I think its rather overdoing it.

We are still waiting for the pop corn varieties to ripen. Their cobs however are far more numerous than those of the sweet corn as well as being quite a bit smaller. However we may yet fall foul of Uni of Illinois dire warnings about cross fertilisation as we have a rogue Golden Bantam plant currently flowering amidst our pop corns.

I’m starting to believe that enthusiastic posting is the death knell for any plant mentioned. This could seriously limit my topics of conversation on this blog. No sooner have I said encouraging things about my broad beans soldiering on beyond their normal growing time than we had two weeks of really ugly hot weather and the poor remaining plants started curling up their toes. I also was a bit too enthusiastic with sprucing up the soil around their roots and probably disturbed them which didn’t help either. Several, which are being protected by the corn, are still hanging in there. Dare I hope?

The Borlotti beans haven’t fared much better. For once eating them while they were young and were tender enough to be treated like string beans meant we did have several feeds before they too started to whither and die. For them I suspect it was the hot weather in combination with a virus in the soil. It was probably not a good idea to plant them in the same place where we had beans gorwing last year.


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