Stumpy Sweetcorn

I wasn’t sure if I should bother planting the sweetcorn plants out this year. For months I nurtured and tended to them in the greenhouse; providing an extra layer of glass to increase the temperature for successful germination, covering with fleece whenever the temperature dropped ridiculously low, watering, hardening them off and whipping them in again quickly (before they blew across to my neighbour). All in all, it’s been a bit of a battle to keep them going.

Delaying planting longer than I would’ve liked, I decided to take the plunge and plant them out anyway, the worst that could happen would be instant death, rotting (drowning in the rain) or a slow wind beaten death. The sweetcorn battled through the rain, storms and gales that repeatedly battered most of the UK, despite my concerns. Although I spared the plants the worst of the weather, a combination of factors including lack of time in the ground and low light levels, unsurprisingly, contributed to their lack of height. I refer to them as ‘stumpy’ (a little over 3 feet high).

Gardening, to me, is a continuous learning process. Much like a game. It’s all about planning each sown seed and enjoying the fruits of labour when it all comes together, but, in reality, each maneuver will face challenges. There will be success and failure, mother nature will work with you and against you, sometimes all at once. But that’s one of the reasons why I love growing my own food. I appreciate what’s on my dinner plate even more.

Plenty of cobs are forming on my stumpy, heroic sweetcorn. Some of them are a decent size too. I didn’t think it possible, but maybe, just maybe (fingers crossed), I’ll be biting into delicious sweetcorn cobs this year after all. And what a tough growing year it has been.

Sweetcorn – Tassels, Silks and Pollination

Our sweetcorn is doing pretty well, the male tassels (flowers) at the top are standing proud and the female silks are starting to show. Now we are coming to the crucial time that could render our first attempt at growing sweetcorn (from seed I might add) either a tasty success or a total failure.

Wind pollination along with planting in a block rather than a row will help to pollinate the silks, but, I shall also aid nature a little and try to hand pollinate as well. Anyone else done this before? Any tips? So far I have the following advice:

Tap the tassel flower when fully open to distribute the pollen to the silks below, or, run your hand up and down the tassel and then do the same to the silks to release the pollen.

 

As you can see we have at least 3 silks per plant, whether or not all become pollinated is any ones guess. I have a few pollinating ideas up my sleeve (oh dear that sounds a bit odd) so I shall try different methods on different plants and see how we go.