Friday, 14 September 2012

Sweet, sweet sweetcorn

Sue will thank me for publishing this photo!

Well, the liver was lovely last night - always a treat when a piglet comes back all bagged up from the butchers. But it was not the star of the show.

Friday 14th September 2012
For this morning Sue harvested some of the sweetcorn which has been growing in amongst the pumpkins. I've only grown sweetcorn once before, but I did everything too late and ended up not harvesting it. However, this time I was prepared. I waited till the time was right before planting my Sweetcorn Lark seeds (an Xtra tender type from in modules in the greenhouse. I had 98% germination and they grew quickly and were ready to go out just as the soil had sufficiently warmed up. Maybe the early water helped them - I don't know, but they settled in quickly outside and were soon putting on new growth.

I had planted them in groups of four, spaced at the corners of a 9 inch square. In between the planting stations were squashes, courgettes and pumpkins, and at the base of each corn plant a climbing bean seed was planted.
At the risk of repetition, the beans completely failed, torn to shreds by slugs, and a second sowing of plants raised in the glasshouse came to the same fate. But the little sweetcorn plants escaped the slugs and continued to grow, their bases gradually given shade by the encroaching pumpkin and courgette plants with their giant leaves. Their feathery heads towered above all this and, in the crooks of their elbows, the cobs began to swell.
Patiently I waited, oh so patiently, even leaving them past the point when Don next door had harvested his. I decided that every little drop of this late summer sunshine was going to go into my corn. 
So when Sue bought in a basket full of cobs it was a tense moment as she peeld back the outer sheathers of leaves. Would they reveal a grid of unswollen, pale seeds or a honeycomb of sweet, golden nougats?

To my amazement and great pride, the latter! Only two had failed to ripen sufficiently and one had proved a temptation for the mice - a good reason to collect in our harvest and process it for the freezer. All we do is peel of all the outer leaves then parboil the whole cobs before putting them in the freezer.

But the proof of the pudding is in the eating. I have had home-grown sweetcorn before which has been average to disappointing, but not this time. The sweetcorn was deliciously juicy and sweet, outshining the rest of the meal. Replacement seeds are already on my shopping list for next year. At £1.25 for 25 seeds that works out at about 3 to 4p per cob, of course, not including my labour.

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