DIGGING DEEPER

Beautiful Corn!

All types of corn can be challenging to grow in the Pacific NW. In most regions of the country, corn is direct seeded in the spring. We transplant both sweet corn and popcorn in order to give it a head start in the spring. This is a technique we learned from Josh Volk when he was at Sauvie Island Organics. Transplanting is especially helpful if we have a cold wet spring since most corn seed struggles to germinate when the soil temp is below 60 degrees. This is the reason that most conventional farmers plant treated seed. The corn plants can grow in cool weather, but the seeds need warmth to germinate and thrive. If we plant seeds directly into the cold wet soil they often just rot in the ground. If we plant the seeds in the greenhouse and keep them warm & toasty for a week or two then the small plants are usually strong enough to handle the weather after that. Baby corn plants look like a single blade of grass attached to the seed and have a small fragile root when we transplant them. Less than a week old they’re too small to fend for themselves but older than two weeks they have a larger tap root that can break and that is stressful for the plants. The sweet corn variety we grow is Sugar Buns which we have found to be a good early producer with a nice balance of sweet and old fashioned corn flavor. The variety of popcorn/polenta corn we grow is Amish Butter. Our seed originally came from Anthony Boutard at Ayers Creek Farm and if you are interested in corn then his book, Beautiful Corn: America’s Original Grain from Seed to Plate is a must read! Or check out this video about Anthony & his corn.