Country Living Series

Sunday, October 23, 2011

To seed or not to seed

We didn't get much out of the garden this year. We had such a cold wet spring that many things simply didn't come up; or if it did come up, it didn't do very well. That included the corn. I planted it at the right time, but the cold and saturated soil was unforgiving. (By way of comparison, I always look with envy at a garden we pass on our way to church, since they always have the prettiest garden in the neighborhood. This year, their corn looked worse than mine.) Anyway, bottom line -- I honestly didn't think I had any corn worth harvesting.

But when I started poking around, things were fractionally better than I'd hoped. Here the cows, know that poking around in the corn often means treats, hang around the fence.

Sure enough, I tossed some immature stalks over the fence for them. They think it's better than candy.

The cows are getting hungry. There's not much left on the pasture for them, so these corn stalks were a treat indeed. We'll be moving them to the wooded side of the property very soon, and feeding them hay.

Anyway I found a few -- very few -- ears that were mature enough to keep for seed corn. That's all I was hoping for.

In all, just seven ears of corn were mature enough. Seven. Still, I have lots and lots of corn canned up in my pantry, so seed corn is just fine with me.

Next step is to dry the ears. I pulled back but did not remove the shucks.

Then I tied string around the top of the ears...

...then suspended the cobs on the lintel above the pantry. By the way, the shucks serve no purpose except to keep the string on. You'll notice I accidentally snapped one cob off and had to awkwardly hang it with a string around the kernels.

These will dry for a few weeks, then I'll rub the kernels off and keep them for next year's seed.

Meanwhile I figured I'd best harvest the onions as well. I was hoping these would go to seed, but no such luck. Too late in the season at this point.

But the onions -- which I started from seeds, not sets -- were respectable in size.

Not too shabby on the onion harvest. My first successful crop grown from seed.


  1. Yep, we had a n odd growing season in S.W Idaho as well. We get our first hard freeze Monday night. So I'll scavenge the garden for what I can get and I'll try to dehydrate the left over veggies. Then put the garden to bed for the winter. I have a lot of rabbit poo and some straw to add to my raise beds.
    I'm trying an indoor winter garden for herbs and greens in a south facing window. I thought I killed my Raspberry plant but she is making a come back. Citrus trees are going great in a room with mostly morning light. But all the strawberry starts my Mom gave me have died. Me and strawberry's seem to have issues.
    Those onions look awesome!

  2. Corn is a difficult crop to grow if the weather doesn't get it the critters will. My daughter threw in the towel after her beautiful 4" corn was pulled up by the roots-darn crows!

  3. This is a very good example of planning ahead. Seed corn is better than no corn. Canned corn from previous successes will carry you for a while. There will always be good harvests and bad harvests so all in all, it will work out.

  4. I'd be pleased if I could get 7 ears of corn from my garden and this year was the first year that I got onions.

  5. I've been planting corn for several years, and actually got several nice ears from my garden this summer for the first time ever. My onions were pretty small but they're great for tossing in the crockpot with a roast. Yummy.

  6. I have not tried growing corn up here in North Idaho yet. I did buy some organic seed this year that had a name like Alaska or something, but it did say 55 days to maturity. There are neighbors who grow corn every year and every last one of them had horrible luck this year. Long, cool spring and short summer I guess. My tomatoes (Siberia and Glacier)did well and so did my green beans and I have saved LOTS of seed from my Early Bountiful beans but not so many from the Providers. I keep looking under the plastic and telling them to please hurry and dry out so I can save some more. Not as many butternut squash as last year either. They were way behind in producing fruit. The chickens liked them though.

  7. Nice looking onions. I'm going to try growing green onions, celery, tomatoes, zucchini and radishes in pots next spring. Not much, but better than nothing.

    I read that green onions can be started in the house by cutting off the rooty bulb ends and placing them half way into a shallow bowl of water. When they start to grow, transplant into a pot. Hope it works!

    Anonymous Patriot

  8. Re-plant a few of those onions!!
    They set seed on the second year (like onions and chives and parsley and so on - in umbel-type families). Then you'll have a *ton* of onion seeds for following years. Yum.

  9. How do you know when the corn is mature enough?