Nature Notes

Gardens of Eatin’ Corn Looks Golden

Fruits and vegetables are swelling up everywhere in the Gardens of Eatin’; tomatoes and peppers, pomegranates and squash. But although all of our gardens are experiencing wonderful growth, there is one patch that has left others in the dust.

Corn patch near the Learning Center
Corn patch near the Learning Center

By midsummer, a healthy crop of field corn should be more than 6 feet tall and have a root system that is equally as deep. Today, our field corn is just about 8 feet tall and our sweet corn (that has just begun tasseling) is closer to 6 feet—things are looking right on schedule. This year, the seed for our corn plot was graciously donated by the Minnesota Corn Growers Association who is also the presenting sponsor for our Summer In Motion season. Our partnership, as well as their generous contribution, will help families to experience nature and to also learn about good conservation practices.

Tassels of the 'Peaches n' Cream' Sweet Corn
Tassels of the ‘Peaches n’ Cream’ Sweet Corn

The differences between field corn and sweet corn are subtle but important. Field corn is harvested when it is dry and hardened and is used to make feed for livestock, ethanol and other corn by-products. Sweet corn is harvested when the kernels are still full and milky, ensuring that the ears are tasty enough to eat. Contrary to what most people think, 99% of the corn grown in the U.S. is field corn.

Asgrow Dekalp Field Corn - Variety #29228 CSAH 31
Asgrow Dekalp Field Corn – Variety #29228 CSAH 31

This week we will begin construction on an electric fence to surround our corn patch. We’ve learned from previous experience that all kinds of different creatures love to sample our sweet cobs. Though electric shock may seem harsh, traditional fencing is not enough to keep determined deer and ornery raccoons away—so heavy artillery is a must.

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