Trying out a corn variety called “Midnight Snack, grown near Cache Creek, as well as my saved Bantam/Sunnyvee Cross (Mary Lowther photo)

Trying out a corn variety called “Midnight Snack, grown near Cache Creek, as well as my saved Bantam/Sunnyvee Cross (Mary Lowther photo)

Mary Lowther column: Early sowing gets a jump on corn season

‘I’m planting three batches of corn, two weeks apart for a steady supply’

We can grow so many crops here that David and I eat like kings. Corn ranks high on the list so I always make room for it. This year I’m trying out author Dick Raymond’s suggestion for getting a jump on the season. He plants seeds directly in the soil a month before the recommended date. Since the recommended date for corn sown outside here is early June, I’ve just sown some of my saved Sunnyvee/Bantam cross.

Raymond says the soil should not have had cover crop, little organic matter and no fertilizer because the seed might die if it grows lushly with extra nutrients at first and then rot because of too much cold rain or frosts.

He plants the seed about 1.5 inches, which is deeper than usual, and then he waits, sometimes for six weeks, before sprouts emerge. He uses an early variety and is eating corn two weeks before anyone else in his area.

I’m planting three batches of corn, two weeks apart for a steady supply, even though this takes up a lot of garden space. When the early corn comes out, there might still be time to plant a fall or overwintering crop. Corn pollinates and produces ears more thoroughly when grouped together so I plant in rows side by side. I sow seed eight to 10 inches apart in rows that are two feet apart, oriented north to south so they don’t shade other plants.

When Raymond plants corn, he digs a long trench, places the seeds at the bottom and covers them with a bit of soil, not filling in the trench. He unrolls a length of chicken wire to cover the whole bed to keep birds out. By the time the corn reaches the chicken wire, he pulls it off and starts filling in the trench.

The corn will have become firmly rooted, preventing birds from pulling them out.

I plant a winter squash at both ends of the bed and encourage them to skirt the outside of the corn to keep out varmints, and to prevent earwig damage. Gardening authors recommend placing a drop of vegetable oil on the silks as they start to appear. Corn roots grow close to the surface of the ground so weed shallowly, but keep weeds down. When the corn reaches eight inches, I spread organic fertilizer alongside each row and hoe that in a bit. This is called side dressing. I lay soaker hoses alongside each row, water the corn for half an hour, twice a week, and cover the soil with mulch because our summers are so hot and dry.

Corn produces side shoots called suckers and studies have shown that corn develops better when these suckers aren’t removed. If these suckers produce ears, Raymond suggests using them for seed and just eating the larger cobs that grow on the main stalk.

Corn requires a lot of nutrients, so I spray with compost tea every two to three weeks and side dress with more organic fertilizer when silks first appear on the cobs.

After harvest, I break up some of the stalks into four foot lengths and crisscross two layers of them at the bottom of my fall compost heap to allow upward air flow. I chop up the rest into six inch lengths and compost them either by digging them under or tossing them into the compost heap.

Please contact mary_lowther@yahoo.ca with questions and suggestions since I need all the help I can get.

ColumngardeningLake Cowichan

Just Posted

Sierra Acton, regional district director for Shawnigan Lake. (file photo)
New parkland in Shawnigan creating connections

Used to created parking for the popular Masons Beach Park

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

Chris Wilkinson
Chris Wilkinson column: This could be the worst thing done to you during the pandemic

As a result, all of us will contend with more ‘scarcity’ thinking and mindset.

The Crofton trailer park home where the bodies of two people were found. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Mom still waiting for answers after daughter and her fiance found dead in Crofton

Pair discovered dead in their Crofton home in May identified as Rachel Gardner and Paul Jenkins

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

Most Read