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grrlgeek
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Growing corn - more than one variety - and in limited space

The subject line is what I want to do.

I have two locations, separated by a building (the house) where I can grow corn. Each area has 2 plots. I can make it any size, but I was planning on roughly 4x4 for each, if that is even possible. In terms of pollen drift, prevailing winds would blow pollen to the southeast, away from the plantings and off down the street to my neighbours. Hope they aren't growing corn! I realise this isn't a foolproof solution to prevent crossing, but I have taken into account maturity rates and am trying to plant so that they shouldn't be pollinating at the same time anyway.

Varieties:
Blue Jade - 3' tall, can be grown in containers (as is my plan) 70-80 days avg 3-6 ears per?!
Painted Mountain - 6' tall, 70-90d
Country Gentleman - 8' tall, 88-92d
Hopi Blue - 6' tall, 100-110d


I started Blue Jade in the house in large cups on 3/31. It's going in the front yard in very large totes/pots. Hopi in the front as well, in the raised bed. The backyard will get Country Gentleman and Painted Mountain in raised beds.

Question 1:
For the Blue Jade, how big of a pot/container should it be? I saw some pics of a member growing corn on a dock. If he/she is reading this, how big are those containers? That was some big corn!


Question 2:
I know I should stagger the timing of the plantings. When does corn make its pollen? Is it a relatively set time in development based on the maturity date or is it variety specific? Would you bag the tassles instead and hope for the best? How do you do that? When would you plant if you dared to take on this ridiculous experiment? My FFD is Nov 11. ANY advice welcome!


Question 3:
I don't want to overcrowd, but I would like to gently press the limits on spacing to get more plants and increase the opportunities for good pollination. It's hot and dry here, with nice winds in the afternoon. We get mild monsoon weather in late July through early-mid August. I have good irrigation in place and am willing to feed them (organically) as needed. My FFD isn't until November 11. I do not intend to save seed this year.

Feel free to laugh and point. But please, even speculation is welcome. I've never grown corn before! :-()

Thanks!
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applestar
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Re: Growing corn - more than one variety - and in limited sp

I'll post a longer reply tomorrow. I have done the multiple varieties in small spaces with house as barrier. Only times I really had complete failure was one year growing in a bed that was insufficient sun and the year the chipmunk ate every seed I planted. If all you are looking for is "can I grow them?" and not award winning full, bumper crop, you will get results. You could probably find the threads I posted.

For starters, I would grow the two blue corn in "separated by house" locations. Why would you not save seeds?

...more tomorrow. :wink:
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JosephsGarden
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Re: Growing corn - more than one variety - and in limited sp

Whatever size you make the plot (bigger is better), allow at a minimum 2 square feet per plant. Crowding corn leads to lower yields.

Blue Jade and Country Gentleman are sweet corns, so they will start flowering about 25 days before the DTM you listed... [I say about because maturity is based on cumulative heat not on a calendar, but seed companies do the best that they can.] I'd plant these in plots on the same side of the building. Sweet corn being pollinated by sweet corn is still sweet corn. Flowering time might extend for about 10 days on open pollinated varieties like these. If you are not worried about purity then it doesn't matter if flowering times overlap.

Painted Mountain and Hopi Blue are flour corns, so they will start flowering about 50 days before the DTM you listed. I'd plant these in plots on the same side of the building. Flour corn being pollinated by flour corn is still flour corn. The painted mountain and Hopi Blue can be planted on the same day and the flowering times won't overlap. Painted Mountain in my experience is closer to the 70 day side of that DTM estimate. And don't be disappointed if the Painted Mountain only grows 2 to 5 feet tall. The Hopi corn sends up lots of tillers, so don't feel shy about giving each plant as much as 2.5 square feet per plant.

In a 10 MPH wind corn pollen only travels about 25 feet before falling below silk level so I wouldn't worry about the neighbors.

imafan26
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Re: Growing corn - more than one variety - and in limited sp

If you space your planting times on the varieties so they tassel at least two weeks apart they should not cross. 4x4 will only get you about 16 plants with one foot spacing, less if you give them more spacing between plants. That is not a lot of corn. 8x8 or 10x10 would be better.
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jal_ut
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Re: Growing corn - more than one variety - and in limited sp

Corn is a large plant and needs room for its large leaves to find sunshine. Crowd it and it won't bear corn. Plant it too sparsely and it won't get pollinated. It is a balancing act.

imafan26 said, " 4x4 will only get you about 16 plants". Personally I think ten plants in that area is enough.

An 8x8 plot with 4 rows of corn and 10-12 plants per row makes more sense. This would pollinate well.
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grrlgeek
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Re: Growing corn - more than one variety - and in limited sp

applestar wrote: If all you are looking for is "can I grow them?" and not award winning full, bumper crop, you will get results.
Why would you not save seeds?
...more tomorrow. :wink:
applestar,
I look forward to your wisdom! I am indeed more focused on growing the varieties, trying them, and enjoying the process. We don't eat a lot of corn, and I figure I would use maybe 48 ears of sweet corn before I burned out on it. If Blue Jade really produces 3-6 ears, (even if it's just 2!) I could make that count in just 16-24 plants. The rest is gravy and variety. I want to try to make blue corn tortillas and have some flour left over for a bread recipe and a thickening agent for my chili. I don't know that I will get that much, but even a small amount will provide a learning experience this year.

As for saving seed, the multiple varieties and why I don't plan to save seed this year is because I had a hard time whittling down the list to just these 4! Gardening opened my eyes WIDE to the variety that isn't found at the grocery store. Having a stack of a dozen seed catalogs for bedtime reading all winter just makes me want to move to a farm. I want to eat everything in every catalog. I'm an omnivore, but since last summer I've reduced meat consumption to 2x a week, if that. I can't wait for my own stuff to mature, so I buy what I'm growing at the market (or a reasonable facsimile) and try the recipes that danced in my head reading the catalogs. Oh, my point..... lol I read that corn seed doesn't last long, so I figure in 10 years or so when I get to the end of that list, I'll start saving seed of the varieties that do well and taste the best. So yeah, they could cross and it wouldn't be the end of the world, but I do want to try to minimise that so I can eat the picture on the package. :D
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grrlgeek
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Re: Growing corn - more than one variety - and in limited sp

imafan26 wrote: 8x8 or 10x10 would be better.
jal_ut wrote: Corn is a large plant and needs room for its large leaves to find sunshine. Crowd it and it won't bear corn. Plant it too sparsely and it won't get pollinated. It is a balancing act.
JosephsGarden wrote: Whatever size you make the plot (bigger is better)....

don't be disappointed if the Painted Mountain only grows 2 to 5 feet tall. The Hopi corn sends up lots of tillers, so don't feel shy about giving each plant as much as 2.5 square feet per plant.
LOL... I wish I had an acre or ten! I will get out my scale graph paper drawing of the yards and see if I can come up with a solution for more space that doesn't steal too much more of the running area for the dogs.

JosephsGarden,
Thank you so much for all that data on timing the tassels. I swore I wasn't going to put my garden into MS Project, but... I would be remiss to let that information go to waste on just a scratch pad! That is really helpful data! Also, thanks for the tip about Painted Mountain not being tall. That's awesome. I wont be disappointed at all if it's shorter as that gives me more options for varieties for the front yard. I live in the suburbs... there is no homeowner's association or rules or anything like that, but I'm trying to keep the front garden orderly and a bit more "manicured."

You said that Painted Mountain is a flour corn. In the seed catalog it said that it can be picked early and used as sweet corn, or let it dry for flour. Is it really unsuitable for fresh eating? I was already planning a bbq event around that harvest :(
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JosephsGarden
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Re: Growing corn - more than one variety - and in limited sp

My brother plants corn on an 18" grid. That works very well for him, and that provides 2.25 square feet per plant. Regardless of spacing, I can pretty much expect to get one cob per square foot for common sweet corn varieties.

As far as I'm concerned, Painted Mountain can't be picked early enough to be suitable for fresh eating. Physically I am capable of eating gravel. It's just not something that I would do on purpose. I'd bet that if you could actually locate the person that wrote that text for the seed catalog that if they were honest they would admit that they have never actually eaten Painted Mountain as a sweet corn. It's just one of those Internet rumors that gets turned into a fact by constant repetition.

Also, I wouldn't expect the Blue Jade to be gray/blue at the fresh eating stage. I'd expect the blue color to only emerge after the corn is too tough to be of much use as a fresh corn. Sweet corns do not make good flour or thickening. But, oh my, the painted mountain sure will make some fantastic tasting and colored food!

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grrlgeek
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Re: Growing corn - more than one variety - and in limited sp

JosephsGarden wrote:I'd bet that if you could actually locate the person that wrote that text for the seed catalog that if they were honest they would admit that they have never actually eaten Painted Mountain as a sweet corn. It's just one of those Internet rumors that gets turned into a fact by constant repetition.

Also, I wouldn't expect the Blue Jade to be gray/blue at the fresh eating stage. I'd expect the blue color to only emerge after the corn is too tough to be of much use as a fresh corn. Sweet corns do not make good flour or thickening. But, oh my, the painted mountain sure will make some fantastic tasting and colored food!
Okay, fair enough. At least I know where I stand with Country Gentleman!

The Hopi Blue is earmarked for making blue corn flour, and I was going to split the Painted Mountain between fresh and corn meal. I feel a challenge though, so I will take it for the team and try the PM fresh and you are entitled to say "I told you so" when I report back on the results! If it sucks, I just leave it on there longer and I get more corn meal. :lol: I sure hope the Blue Jade is sweet and blue at the same time, but its appeal was also the large yield on a small plant to save on space. I will be sure to let everyone know how that turns out too.
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applestar
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Re: Growing corn - more than one variety - and in limited sp

I'm learning so much just reading this thread! :D
So looking forward to your progress and updates.

I never got around to trying Painted Mountain, but I've heard that it is a great flour/flint corn.
As for eating as fresh/sweet corn... I wonder if it would be similar to Earth Tone Dent? I tried with that variety and it was always starchy and chewy. Much better to grow to maturity and ground into cornmeal.

Bloody Butcher was really good as sweet corn -- and extra tall plants too. Great "wow" value. Only thing was, the red kernels, cob, and husks stained your hands and mouth/teeth. :P

Also, another use -- I had some unhusked harvested whole sweet corn that I forgot about in the fridge, and instead of spoiling, it dried up. I used the dry kernels to cook with and they were amazingly sweet. I guess the sugar got concentrated like dehydrated fruit.
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