Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Corn Patch Confidential

Though I was cooped up again today working furiously (I'm having a busy time again for a while), Fernymoss had the day off, and since the heat has finally abated a bit, he indulged the demands of the Urban Oasis by taking the camera out to see what was going on as he weeded a bit.... I've been wanting to get an update on the corn posted, so I specifically asked that he get some shots of it (he likely would have even without my request), as well as Punkenstein, (as Boran2 dubbed our runaway pumpkin patch) ... other than that, I left it up to him to just have fun and shoot whatever else he found of interest.

He came back with a great batch of photos you'll be seeing in future posts, including some of the first blooms of Hibiscus moscheutos 'Blue River,' which unfortunately now needs to be staked up again after the storms that moved through late last night, when some oddly intense thunderstorms just popped up after midnight, from which we got a fair amount of wind, rain and unfortunately, the first damaging hail of the summer. In that regard, though I'd like to whine about it, we've been very lucky so far so I'll refrain ... so in some of these photos you'll see the evidence of its damage.
But! The corn is standing high, tasseling and putting on its first ears despite it all! This first shot shows the basic corn patch at the northern end of the veggie garden where we usually plant tomatoes and peppers, but this year we have them situated elsewhere. If we're successful with it this year, we'll probably plant more corn at the other end of the garden next year (currently squatter space for Punkenstein). You'd think that two guys who have gardened for years (in of all places, Iowa!) would be old pros at corn ... well then, you'd be mistaken, as this is the first year we've tried sweet corn! Aside from planting Broom Corn (a really cool plant) the second year here, which we loved, but it terrified our neighbor by growing over 9 feet tall, so somehow we convinced ourselves we just didn't have the room for it. It's true that in our earlier years, we planted far more tomatoes and peppers than we do now, so there wasn't room, but now that we've cut back significantly on those crops, we have a decent space for it. And, despite being planted literally in mud in June (we remember all that rain oh so well), it has done very well for us so far this summer, even with getting knocked down several times in recent storms. Though it's going to be a while before we can harvest some, I take consolation in the fact that the local growers' crop is just now starting to hit the stores and roadside vendors, so we're a bit behind, but not hopelessly so.
This shot obviously needs little introduction, but it's great to see that although it just started tasseling out last week, there are already quite a few ears set on out in the patch. We are a bit apprehensive that we may get raided by neighborhood raccoons (they're out there!), but we're hoping for the best and if all they steal is an ear or two, we could live with that ... as long as we have several good meals out of the bargain. For me, it's been fun to grow corn again, something I've not done since I was a child and teen and lived at home with my gardener dad. So now that we're in a situation where we can plant it, we should probably stick with it ... after all, even when the edible ears are gone, we'll have some home grown, organic Halloween decorations from the garden, along with the pumpkins (we hope)!
Now to the interesting part of this post! Here's an interesting (as yet unidentified) beetle Fernymoss caught lurking in the corn (along with other critters as well). In this shot, he's looking head on, and when you really zoom in on this photo, he's got a rather unpleasant mug with some fearsome pincers on display. If any erstwhile readers can ID this guy, let us know in the comments. We're just hoping it's not a bad critter for the corn, attracted by a crop that doesn't usually grow here....
Here we have the same beetle, though at this point he apparently decided he had enough posing for the camera, and prepared to take his leave ... yes, yet another "bug butt" shot from the garden! We found it amusing that this beetle's ahem, posterior looks remarkably like a clearly defined bullseye ... we have no idea what that's all about but it is striking, n'est-ce pas?

Fortunately, milder weather is forecast for later this week, so maybe finally (if work cooperates) this weekend, I can get in a few weeding sessions to try to tame some of the worst stuff that has been thriving since we've been in this most recent rainy period.... I'm already starting to think that this year has been an odd spring to summer. We started out with incessant rain in late May through June, with the flooding thrown in, all of which kept us from getting these veggies in when they should have been planted ... basically we lost that whole month in the garden due to rain, flooding and mud. Still, I remain optimistic that we'll pull out a respectable showing and harvest after all is said and done.

Those who know me well would find that optimism a bit surprising, because I'm usually more pessimistic about certain things, but the garden always seems to offer me plentiful reasons to switch to the 'glass half full' attitude, something I think must be a near pathological instinct of confirmed gardener DNA. That's the only way I can rationalize this inherent contradiction with regard to my general world view. I suppose one could characterize that as a humanizing quality of gardening, but whatever one might call it, it definitely promotes a more positive outlook. Something that's sorely missing in the current zeitgeist of the nation, but with any luck, that may be poised to change for the better....


FARfetched said...

Lemme get this straight: you're in Iowa. check You grew corn. check It got really tall. check Your neighbor is also in Iowa. check So why would your neighbor be bothered by nine-foot corn? Doesn't seem to make sense.

Your optimism reminds me (again) of an old saying:

To the pessimist, the glass is half-empty.
To the optimist, the glass is half-full.
To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Cute bug. He looks like a Pixar star to me. Pixar and Disney love those movies about ants and bugs.

Not much longer to the first cornboil.

Daisy said...

We had snow in June so I can sympathize with losing a month of productive growing time!

Our corn is so much smaller than yours... It's more of a novelty thing for us than actually a source of food... I'll have to post some pictures soon. We'd LOVE to have nine-foot corn though. Neighbors be darned! (Well, I'm not that un-neighborly, but nine foot corn sounds like so much fun!)

olivia said...

Hi IVG. Just popping in to say hello ... I've been reading every day, just in lurking mode. You too FAR!

boran2 said...

The corn looks great, IVG. I grew it once many years ago on Long Island. Not exactly corn country but we did actually have a few ears.

I can't wait to see Punkenstein.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

FAR, I know it sounds improbable and irrational, but some neighbors are like that (she hated getting tickled by the corn and the castors).

Have you ever seen broom corn? It's a purely ornamental kind that you can actually use to make brooms. It gets very skinny and 9-10 ft tall ... a row of that was just too much to take, I guess. LOL

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Marnie,
Pixar bug, eh? I've never seen those movies, but I've seen promos and such for them, and Pixar animation is really good. Didn't they do The Incredibles too? We love that one, but for animation, we're HUGE Wallace and Gromit fans. I really loved that W&G Curse of the Wererabbit revolved around gardening too!

No cornboil, I grill ours on the grill ... brush with butter, wrap in 2 layers of foil and place them at the very edge of the grill and turn them every 5 min for 15... works like a charm!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey Daisy,
Your snow usually goes away in May sometime, right? But no matter the cause, losing a month sucks in garden time, and with your short season, I'm sure it's even more frustrating.

I hope you at least get a few ears to eat, but just think, you have your fall decorations growing, they'll just have to dry when they're done producing. Oh, and you should try some broom corn (see my response to FAR up above for a description). We thought about planting again this year farther from the fenceline to placate her, but we couldn't find seed locally. :-(

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Olivia, I'd been fearing you had been swallowed up by one of those nefarious intertubes, or perhaps banished to a parallel universe, where you would have to call upon The Doctor to get you out, hehe.

Let me know when you are ready to de-lurk....

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey B2,
Thanks, we're looking forward to eating it sometime soon. I do know they grow a bunch of corn in upstate NY, right? A few years ago we saw a show in Food Network (with that pompous Aussie Gordon Elliott) where they claimed the best sweet corn in the country came from NY.

We were, to say the least, grossly offended by that remark! :-)