At Long Last: Corn!

If you've been following this blog through several growing seasons, you are already well-acquainted with our difficulties raising sweet corn. It's not an easy crop to grow in small patches because it's pollinated by the wind. This means that you need a lot of it to make sure that enough of it gets pollinated to be worthwhile — usually the ones around the edges are a loss. But if your ratio of edge to interior is too high, you're not going to get much corn. We dealt with a severe failure to pollinate back in 2012, and I think last year's crop, though improved, suffered from this as well. 

And let's not forget our friends the squirrels. They are the worst

So, given all these troubles, we agreed that this year would be the last chance for corn. If we couldn't get a decent crop, we wouldn't bother saving any space for it in next year's garden plan. We got a new variety — "Mystique" from Johnny's Seeds — and planted just one 4' x 8' block of it in mid-May. We thought early on that the cold spring was going to do us in, and we had to replant most of the block because the first round didn't germinate well. 

Now, the entire block is taller than I am, and it's as lush and green as Rogers and Hammerstein led me to expect it would be:

And can you see all those ears? They are big, and they are ripe. You can tell because the silks are brown. 

Now, we have been burned in the past, thinking that we had ripe corn to eat right up until we peeled back the husk to find that only some kernels grew, while most of the cob was barren. Or infested with earwigs. Or snacked on by some animal that had gotten the best of it before we picked it.

Not today!

This is, bar none, the most perfect corn we have ever harvested. We once had a good year at the Red House growing just twelve plants as transplants, but they weren't like this. I mean, just look at.

And the taste is unbelievable. It is so milky and sweet that Kirk and I ate one raw on the spot. (Full disclosure: We ate half an ear, because the other half had been sampled by… let's say a bird.) 

To prepare the corn for supper, Kirk put the ears on the charcoal grill, just kissing it with the heat to give it a touch of golden color. Really, just enough to warm it up: corn tartare. We dispensed with butter and salt — completely unnecessary. 

It's that good.

But is it too perfect? Some critter seems to agree:

These stalks were blown down in a recent storm, though not broken. In the morning they had corn on them; by dinner time, not so much. (Attention, Fletch: This is your responsibility.)

I'm sure it's a squirrel. (Maybe chipmunks.)

So here's the rub. Do we pick every last ripe ear now, eat it again for dinner tomorrow, and freeze the rest? It seems a shame to freeze it all right away, when we should have a week or two to enjoy the harvest. We could pick it and keep it in the fridge for a few days to eat fresh, but the sweetness will change to starchiness before too long. If we wait with it still on the plant, we run a serious risk of losing it all to critters who have had a chance to develop a taste for it. 

If anyone has any tips for keeping the marauding hordes out of the corn, I'm all ears.


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