Sad corn diary

It would be fair to say that this year has seen our worst corn harvest since we started growing it.

A truly sorry result for the Painted Mountain Corn.

In the front garden we planted Painted Mountain corn, named for the almost unbelievably brilliant colours of it’s kernels.

The intense colour of Painted Mountain corn

Only one plant made it to knee height, the rest barely made it out of the ground. I recorded in the garden diary that in December the plants came under attack from snails. There is no doubt that the primary culprit was our run of 4 days over 40 degrees in January. No amount of water could make up for the shock and while we only had another one or two days around the 40° mark, January 2019 was recorded as being the hottest on record going back to 1910. Despite this pretty awful result I did harvest enough kernels to have another go next year.

Kernels for next year’s crop

Out in the back garden things were marginally better. At least our popping corn, Ontos Oval, did manage to get above the 1 metre high mark. However it suffered from irregular watering. We didn’t notice that our automatic watering system had stopped working due to a flat battery in the timing system.

You can see from the photos that the cobs of this variety are a bit oval-ish in shape.

The kernels themselves are pointed like teardrops. This is the first year that we have grown this variety. I haven’t tried popping these yet. I might just do a side by side test with our regular Strawberry Popping corn

Somewhat better, the Ontos Oval corn from the back garden
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Oh Summer!

If you live in Australia then you will probably be experiencing the challenges that have come from our record high January temperatures.

Our corn has taken a beating. The plants got to knee high and started flowering! Some cobs are forming at the base of the plants.

Our Painted Mountain Corn, struggling in the very high January temperatures.

It’s pretty tragic, but if nothing else shows their determination for germination. I can’t imagine that the result will be much good.

On the other hand one of our annual crops, Kang Kong, (Ipomea aquatica), or water spinach, seems to be coping just fine. A native of tropical northern Australia and South East Asia, it’s a great addition to stir fries.

Our plant was grown from a stem of some kang kong we bought to eat. We grew in water and it took root extremely quickly.

Our Lang Kong took root after only two days!

There is an added bonus to this plant, it has beautiful simple white flowers.

Corn trials

This year my corn planting got off to a very rocky start. Out of habit, and no really good reason, I have always started my corn off in toilet roll tubes and then planted them in the garden when they got to a good size. I tried it this year with two (new to me) varieties, Painted Mountain and Ontos Oval, a popping corn.

It was pretty much a complete failure with only 4 of 24 seeds germinating.

A pretty poor germinnation rate

It didn’t take long to work out that the potting mix was to blame. What has always been a good quality brand appears to have changed it’s mix, or maybe quality control wasn’t working because what we got was completely impervious to wetting. I even resorted to pulling the seed back out and potting in a different mix. I got another 3 seedlings up but I have written the rest off.

That left me doing what I should have done originally, direct seeding into the garden beds. I am having a play with planting one batch of Painted Mountain corn into the bed that had my broadbeans in it. Given that last year’s re-grown broadbeans gave us the most pods this year, I have cut the recent crop down to ground level and planted the corn between them in the hope that the broadbean roots will continue to fix nitrogen into the bed. The beans are already re-shooting.

Broad beans re-shooting with one of the few Painted Mountain corn seeds that germinated first time around.

Both types of the direct seeded corn are sprouting now, along with their ‘sister’ beans, this year it’s Lazy Housewife beans.

Lazy Housewife beans and the Painted Mountain corn sprouting.

The third ‘sister’ I have only planted in one bed. Rather than the traditional pumpkin I have planted Purple Sweet Potato. These are purchased plants, as we were totally unsuccessful at striking cuttings from a tuber as we had planned.

Sweet Potato plants with the corn sprouting alongside.

I hope that the sweet potato will grow as well as the crop I saw at the open garden I visited a while back.