Pick sweet corn at the optimum stage

It’s all in the timing when it comes to harvesting sweet corn. Prime picking time can be as short as two or three days depending on daily temperatures.

Sweet corn is ready to pick about two to three weeks after the silks first emerge from the developing ears — mark the date on your calender.

After a couple of weeks check the condition of the silks. If they are still quite green you have plenty of time to wait, if they are starting to turn brown check them every few days or so.

When the silks have turned completely brown and have dried up, it means the corn kernels are approaching the “milk stage” — the best time to pick.

At this stage the sweet corn has about another week to go.
At this stage the sweet corn has about another week to go.

These is a test you can do to make sure your corn is at it’s peak flavor: Peel back the husk on an ear and use your thumbnail to squeeze a kernel until it pops. If the juice is looks milky, it is time to pick. This is the stage of development most people prefer for their sweet corn.

Watery-looking juice means the ear needs a couple more days to mature. Sweet corn at that stage, while having a tender texture, doesn’t have much flavor.

The reward: flavorful sweet corn.
One week later: fully developed and flavorful sweet corn.

Over-ripe sweet corn kernels are doughy when you give them the squeeze test. The kernels are chewy and have a less-sweet, starchier flavor. I know of some older people who prefer their sweet corn at this more mature stage, but they are in a small minority.

I planted my sweet corn this spring on three separate dates about ten days apart.  Doing that will spread my harvest over a longer period of time.  I won’t have to frantically pick and freeze my crop all at once.

Bob

A rainy growing season

It sure looked like it was going to be a banner year for my potatoes. I planted three rows, sixty feet long, in the deepest darkest garden soil I have.

The cool temperatures and regular rain at the beginning of the season pushed them along — I never had such a beautiful looking potato patch. I was already worrying about what to do with my bumper crop.

I mounded up my potatoes early on so that the rows sat about six inches above the garden bed. This was going to give them plenty of space to produce lots of spuds.

Then the rains kept coming and the potato patch started getting pretty wet. The soil was so wet that I couldn’t walk in that area without rubber boots.

The last straw came when a storm dumped over four inches of rain all at once. The potatoes were standing in water for days — the raised rows looked like islands in a pond.

Even though the roots on my potato plants rotted away, they attempted to make potatoes anyway. The plants ended up producing these small potato-like tubers.
Even though the roots on my potato plants rotted away, they attempted to make potatoes anyway. The plants ended up producing these small potato-like tubers.

Now, what once looked like a surplus of  potatoes, is now a crop failure. I’ve gardened in that spot for many years and never had a water problem like that in July.

You never know what a new garden season will bring. Next year it may be a plague of insects. Or, maybe it will be a bumper crop — that’s what keeps it interesting.

Bob