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A variable harvest…

A fence steaming in the autumn sun

No sun without steam...

As I look out over my garden today, it’s a glorious autumnal day in a beginning-of-November kind of a way. The fences are steaming and all the plants are glinting with rain, dew and the remnants of last night’s mist.

As a vegetable gardener, I’ve been harvesting here and there throughout the season, but being at the beginning of November, I know there will be a time not far from now when the last remaining tender crops will need their final harvest before the frosts kick in and the temperatures take a nose-dive towards winter.

Corn outlined against the sky

Reach for the sky!

It’s been a fantastic year for fruit, as noted in my last post on my travels along the Oxford Canal taking in the massive output from both the hedgerows and nomadic gardeners’ efforts, so much so, the mid-season strawberries are fruiting again and the autumn fruiting raspberries have put out more flowers this week! Root crops have also done well, with potatoes and carrots in greater abundance than I’ve ever seen – for weeks now we’ve been pulling up carrots of a size I wouldn’t expect to see until mid-winter from the veg. garden…

Sam standing amongst the tall sweetcorn

Almost seven feet tall!

However, one crop that’s definitely seen better days is the sweetcorn. The early autumn winds really battered them down, but with the lessening hours of daylight and their job done in producing the corn, they’re starting to go brown around the edges. In a follow-up to my earlier post Knee high by the 4th of July I can confirm that they grew well as the saying predicts and they were tall – very tall.

Sam looking at some really tall corn

...and now almost nine feet tall!

Unfortunately, whether it was the weather or the variety, the cobs were a bit variable. In the majority of the plants the male flowers at the top matured much earlier than the tassles on the cobs. In some plants the male flowers were over and done before the tassles even showed, and on others the tassles seemed to break off leaving a stump and not much dangling in the breeze to catch the falling pollen.

Three cobs of corn

A variable corn harvest

As a result, there were some cobs that got very big (if a little late in the season) and others which remained quite small and with very few kernels developing (the chickens enjoyed these greatly of course!). Of those that did produce something worthy of a dinner, the taste and texture was pretty variable too. In some they were shiny and crisp and sweet, and others they were dull, floury, tough and a bit tasteless.

I’m not too sure what went on really, but I’m going to give the variety a second chance next year as it’s not fair to dismiss a harvest based on one season alone, especially as it wasn’t all bad.

Dried corn kernels

Here comes the kernel...

For the first time I managed to save some seed from my sweetcorn, so I may plant a mixture of original and saved seed next year and see what comes up and if it fares any better. I will also take some along to donate to Seedy Saturday, the local seed swap that I organise, so if you’re in the area, come along and pick up a packet. Thankfully, only one of my neighbours grows sweetcorn and it’s a very early flowering and cropping variety, so hopefully the seed won’t have crossed, but even if it has, it will be fun to see the results!

How did your sweetcorn get on this year? Did the knee-high rule work for you?

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