Knee High In Garden Corn

Garden CornCorn is our country’s great vegetable. Since its seeds first migrated up from Mexico and spread across the world, corn has served as an all-American symbol as well as one of its favorite food crops.

Growing — and eating — garden corn is the source of countless family memories. Generations have grown up watching seeds the size of their finger tips turn into towering stalks with ears. How many of us actually laid between rows on a summer night to find out if it was true you could hear the corn grow? We still follow grandma’s directions: the first thing to do when picking corn is put the pot on to boil, so not a moment off the stalk is wasted. And we remember grandma cutting the kernels from the cob so grandpa — bless his dentures — could enjoy it even if he didn’t have his God-given teeth. How many times were we told that it was hot enough to pop corn right in the garden? Who can forget the unique sweetness of fresh-picked sweet corn?

Now, with up to 85% of the U.S. crop genetically modified — we won’t even go into the evils of what’s made of it — and genetically modified sweet corn threatening the commercial consumption market — it’s more important than ever for gardeners to raise corn and help preserve the heirloom varieties that generations have enjoyed eating right off the cob. Here’s hoping that your garden is sporting corn planted carefully and in bunches — say three short parallel rows rather than one long one; to encourage pollination — that you’ve kept it well-fed and that, in this Fourth of July week, it’s knee high.

One of our favorite tales from American history is the one in which the first colonists were taught by the Natives to bury fish heads (scroll down) in their corn rows. Today we know just how smart this was. Decaying fish parts are high in nitrogen, just what the corn needs. And they provide necessary minerals and, as they decompose, encourage beneficial micro-organisms. Those worms you dug from your garden didn’t result in a mess of fish to clean? How about this?

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