By Jannie Vaught
So suddenly that it caught many of us off guard. When the intense sun and heat bears down on tender leaves you get what looks like a blow torch has scorched them. I went out the next morning and was suddenly snapped into the reality that yes it’s Hot! I trimmed the burnt leaves, watered and started a batch of compost tea to feed the roots and leaves some nourishment to sustain them through what will possibly be a challenging summer.
The last storm brought wind that knocked down some of my corn and tumbled the outside trash can into the next county. There is a real name for that and it is “blow over” or ” lodging” when corn is affected by wind, and yes it is bent over and sometimes flattened. Today is the day to straighten the corn. Depending on the height of the plant you can adjust the correction. If it is just a few I use a tall bamboo stake or something similar and stake it up tieing loosely but getting the top back up where it belongs. When this happens often the corn stalk will break. That is a loss and best cut back and used for feed or composted.
Since this also loosens the soil around the double root system of corn you can gently press the soil back around the root crown and often it will right itself. If the corn has heavy tassels it will be top heavy and still be bent. Since corn is wind pollinated it needs wind to drop pollen onto the silk. Each strand of silk gets pollen so it can make a kernel, no pollen no kernel. And you get a corn cob with no corn kernels. Another way to stand it back up is to place a heavy stake or post at each end of the row, then every few feet place another stake so as not to harm the roots. Now tie heavy cord top, middle and bottom making a sort of sandwiched in securing of the corn running the cord on both sides of the plant. In high wind areas, some gardeners do these posts when planting and as it grows they add the cord keeping the corn upright. It needs to be upright so it can “Drop” the pollen onto the silk. This is really only for small gardens or smaller corn plots as a large commercial field it isn’t usually corrected. And can be a substantial loss. This is where farms have “Wind Breaks” to slow the wind from hitting tall leafy plants, Tobacco can be blown over also. I don’t see this much anymore, on older farms or homesteads you see a line of big trees often Cottonwood as they grow fast along the field borders specifically planted for windbreaks. I started this column with a date and that was to remind gardeners we can plant corn for a second crop on or around the first of July.
Let’s talk a little about the two types of plants we have Monocots and Dicots. Go online to Untamed Science to get a full explanation. Monocots have One leaf when they root and Dicots have two leaves. Monocots are grasses, lilies, palm trees, orchids, and bananas. Dicots are oak trees, daisies, roses, lentils, cacti, peanuts, beans, and peas. The taproot plants drive down into the earth and collect nourishment from deep in the soil. While Dicots have spreading roots and leaves and collect from the air. The tap roots will be heavy feeders and the soil will need to be fed after they are harvested. Thus the rotation of a dicot which is nitrogen fixing in the soil is planted after a monocot or taproot. Corn is in the grass family.
Another way is to plant a row of corn and a row of lentils for example side by side, this also keeps the weeds shaded out. So here is the simple explanation. Monocots feed deep and down drawing nutrients and minerals from deep underground, while Dicots grow branching roots and many leaves and collect nutrients from above ground, air and sunshine. After you plant a Monocot (corn) plant the Dicot (bean), now the soil stays nutrient rich and till the cover crop under before it seeds. If there is heavy rain when corn is pollinating it can Wash off the pollen or the use of overhead sprinklers will wash it off also, water corn from the ground level. And get your garden journal out and make notes of the happenings of this season, dates of wind, rain, and temperatures it is good for next years reference, and start planning for that fall garden.
Growing green and fixing corn with Jannie