Good News/Bad News on Growing Corn

Operation Growing Corn 2015 is kind of a mixed bag at the moment.  On the one hand, the corn is starting to tassel at the top and drop its pollen.

growing corn

growing corn

I even have one stalk that has a little ear and corn silks forming.

growing corn

But, a raccoon or something else sinister seems to be systematically annihilating a single stalk of corn each day. It’s happening around the perimeter of the area where I’m growing corn, so while I do think the Three Sisters planting is helping deter the nasty creature/s, it’s certainly not been 100% effective. Bummer, I know, Hilda.

And other, far tinier tormentors, are harshing on my  mellow. Hundreds of greenish/blueish/icky-ish corn aphids have descended. Of course, I used my trusty aphid soap solution found here (it’s good for blight, aphids, rickets, scurvy, dandruff or just about anything else that ails ya).

Aphids may be disgusting and make me feel itchy when I see them, but most sources said that corn aphids in particular don’t usually pose any real threat to growing corn. Still, it felt good to put a dent in the dastardly population with my spray.

growing corn

See the big ant on the left? Just when you thought the whole thing couldn’t get any grosser, ants actually “milk” sticky sap from aphids, similar to the way humans milk cows. So, if you suddenly see a bunch of beefy ants hanging around your plants, there’s a good chance aphids are nearby.

growing corn

While I admit the picture above is super yuck, thanks to the the trail of crispy, black aphid bodies letting me know the soap spray is working, it’s not quite as grody as you might think. The white stuff is just flakes of dried soap, and the things on the leaves that look like grains of rice are just from the corn tassle.

So, anyway, that’s what’s happening here: growing corn, cursing the racoons, and killing aphids. How about you?

 

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Aphid Away

Summer was due to make an appearance, and she sure did. We had about a two-week stretch of hot temperatures and no rain. I know to you poor folks out west, two weeks is, like, nothing. But to us in northeast Ohio, that’s a long time, and it meant I had long bled the rain barrels dry and had to drag out the hose. I can’t prove this for sure, but a few articles by reputable sources seem to suggest that the unfriendly aphid often makes his first appearance in hot, dry conditions. Scientifically proven or not, that was definitely the case here.

I saw the first aphid on my bolting lettuce plants. It’s not uncommon for an aphid clan to attack an out-of-season plant because, by nature, plants that are past their prime are … past their prime and not as strong or robust. Since I’m really just waiting for the lettuce to go to seed, not eating the leaves, I wasn’t too worried.  It was a group of dark-colored aphids, so they were easy enough to see, and I just kept a close eye on the neighboring plants to make sure there wasn’t an aphid exodus to neighboring veggies.

But I started to get a little itchy when I came back from being away and saw a new kind of aphid on my Brussels sprouts with white, almost translucent, bodies. Be forewarned, the pictures might make you feel all kinds of oogie:

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Sister Status: Growing the Family

Got my second round of corn seedlings planted in my Three Sisters plot last week. It’s still not all that exciting but I think you can see some progress:

three sisters planting

Whatever day it was I started this experiment.

three sisters planting

A few days ago.

And the aerial view:

three sisters planting

Whatever day it was I started this experiment.

three sisters planting

A few days ago.

All told, about 30 ears of corn in a, more or less, circle formation, with beans and zucchini planted within. Of the 12 or so pole beans I planted, two have sprouted. It was windy, so I couldn’t get a non-fuzzy picture of them but they look a lot like the bush beans at this point.

I also had to do a second round of zucchini seedlings, which I started inside under the grow lights.

three sisters planting

Zuccis (and most squash and melons) don’t like to be transplanted, so I want to put them out in the yarden v. soon when they are still v. small. But I’ll choose the one or two strongest ones to go in the Three Sisters plot, and the other two … well, hard to say where they’ll end up. But they all will get planted later this week when a bunch more rain is in the forecast. I try – and have had REALLY good luck this year – to plant right before, or even during, a rainstorm so that the plants get really well watered in from the get go. The more you know [shooting star].

So, so far so good. I’m a little behind, but when I was leaving my sister’s house in the sorta/kinda country, I stopped by a few Ohio corn fields and, honestly, mine didn’t look all that far behind. I trust the farmers know more than I do.

But, curiously, I’m seeing a lot of these bugs in the garden:

three sisters plantingOh, sorry – that’s not very helpful, is it? They’re bright yellow and look almost like a yellow translucent ant with wings (sadly, Google did not have any help for my “yellow translucent ant with wings” search).

Any idears?