Friday, July 9, 2010

This Year's Corn Patch

I really need to get better organized with my garden seed storage - not the actual storing of the seeds, but seed expiration dates. I know some of my seeds are too old. I find it hard to just throw them out, though. I also have seeds that I grew once or twice, and then they never seem to make the cut again when it comes to plotting out my growing space.

Time to sit down and clear things out. Sowing seeds that no longer germinate just wastes time, and my growing season is short enough as it is. Hanging on to seeds I'll probably never plant is silly too. Time to whittle my seed storage box down to what I know I like, will grow here, and then keep up with it.

What brought on this rant is the sorry state of this year's corn patch. Wanting to spread the harvest out over many weeks, I have packets of seeds with varying maturity dates - plant once and harvest in succession. But this also means only planting a few of each type each year, so some of those packets are getting up in years. Some, this year, didn't germinate at all; others were down to less than 30%. Luckily, I track what is where (or should be, anyway), so I do know which packets to toss out for the birds.

I think I was able to salvage my corn harvest for this year, though. I've been trying to move more and more to saving my own seeds, so have been giving various non-hybrid varieties a trial or two in my garden. Hometown Seeds has a prepared package of emergency "survival seeds" - a packet designed to store in your freezer, with enough seeds for 3-4 seasons worth, or enough to get an entire block of neighbors growing their own fresh food (a good idea, in my mind - if things really did deteriorate to a genuine emergency state, I don't think I'd want to have the only food source in sight). I've seen other survival seed packages listed online, but I live in a rather rigorous growing environment. Just because something grows well in the Great Plains or Florida doesn't mean I'll get a crop from it. But Hometown Seeds is in Utah - the same Great Basin, high-desert, environment as my home. If things do well for them, they should be good here too.

So, one of my corn rows was their Golden Bantam 8 variety. Those seeds are great! Every one of them popped right up (however, growing well is only half the trial - they have to pass the taste test too). And since I'm used to the lower germination rates of other seed sources, I'd planted too many of them. Corn, being a grass-type plant, can take transplanting though, so that's what I did. I dug out every other GB8 plant and moved it over to fill in the gaps in three other rows.

Not quite enough, though. I still had two almost empty rows. But while grocery shopping the other evening, I checked out the little seed stand there. I found a packet of Trinity Hybrid - at 64 days, the shortest days-to-harvest I could find. I got them in the ground night before last (with lots of protection from hungry birds until they get up and growing). I'm hoping, with the hot days now, that they'll be up in no time . Our first frosts can come anytime after mid-September, but will sometimes hold off until early October. So maybe, just maybe, they'll have just enough time to set a crop.


Rita said...

You sure are good at this planting thing. Keeping track of whats, where when. I noticed white and green tub type things around plants. I 'll look back on blog and see if I can figure that out. :)

Sadge said...

Those are Wall-o-Water's - a circle of tubes filled with water. They hold heat early in the season, helping get my tender tomato, eggplant, and pepper transplants off to a stronger start. It's been such a cool start to summer that I still haven't taken them off yet, but will do so soon. Still holding water, it takes two of us to lift them up over the plant cages inside, but then the water is dumped out over the plants and after drying all those W-o-W's are rolled up and stored in one 5-gallon bucket until next Spring.

spotty dog farm said...

you do know how corn will cross pollinate right>? we plant corn in square patches, not in rows and different types should be planted X feet away from eachother.. good luck!

P.s. i love your don't panic post. seriously laughing out loud (aka l.o.l.)

Sadge said...

There are six rows of corn, making a square patch. I sometimes help the upwind plants out by running my hands over the top tassels and then brushing them off above the silks below. If I like this Golden Bantam, over the course of a couple of years, I'll plant just it in order to save the seeds.

I'm a big science fiction/fantasy reader. The Don't Panic button was in the original H2G2 text-based computer game :-)

maggie said...

That's an impressive garden- so glad I stopped by! No corn for me this year- just not enough prepared ground for it. Maybe I can add that next year. Thanks for the reminder to weed through my seed collection.

maa said...

My hubby and I were at loggerheads over where to put my new vege garden. He wanted it outside our home yard fence, in our spare block. I wanted it close to the house. After seeing this post and the pic of your garden, I'm convinced. It's going where he suggested. On the condition that it's all set up and properly fenced so I'm not sharing my crop with the critters!

Thank you.


Sadge said...

Hi Maa! If you scroll on down through my blog, you'll see that we just redid the garden fence this Spring - including burying 1" chicken wire down and out in an L shape around the outside, and lining inside the gates with it too.

maa said...

Great thanks for the tip. I'll show my hubby. We have a lot of 'broadleaf' to get rid of first and then we can start on the fencing. I've been looking at having a raised garden too. Much easier on the back.