Posts tagged sweet corn

Sweet corn has arrived (sort of)

   It’s a mixed bag on Iowa’s sweet corn season. Some of the farmers I spoke to today have it ready, but the crop is delayed in other areas. If you’re early, you might find sweet corn at Saturday’s farmers market in Cedar Rapids. Expect to see more sweet corn at area farmers markets in the next week.

  You can find a list of many Eastern Iowa farmers markets on this blog by clicking on the farmers market category at the right.

   Bob Shepherd, market manager for the Washington Farmers Market, said vendor Tom Vittetoe sold out of a pickup of sweet corn in 20 minutes at Thursday night’s market.

    Bob sent the following report from the market in Washington:

    Ears of succulent fresh picked sweetcorn are one of the special events at the Farmers’ Market; along with strawberries, vine ripened tomatoes, and the first tree fruit  – nothing attracts attention like that first offering. Central Park will hum with the excitement generated by this Iowa treasure.

   The selection improves with each Thursday Evening Market. Expect to see beets, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, kohlrabi, green beans, onions, lettuce, peas, turnips, tomatoes, summer squash, cucumbers and chilies displayed by the local growers. Black raspberries and cherries have added their appeal as we anticipate the first apples shortly.    

   Farm fresh brown eggs have a definite ‘country’ appeal.

  An exceptional selection of fresh baked breads, pies, cookies, cupcakes, sweet rolls, bars, and short breads add their aromatic, mouth watering presence.

   The sound of a sharpening wheel means another fine tool has been keenly touched by John Moore, Bits ‘n’ Blades. Local artists display beautiful glazed ware, stitchery and jewelry.

  A couple of Markets ago samples of BB-Q’ed pork chops were tasted by Market goers. The rub used was a new technique and so successful the recipe is following for all to try on their home BB-Q.

                Cumin and Coriander spice-rubbed Pork Chops

Mix 1 Tbs. brown sugar, 2tsp. ground coriander, 2tsp. ground cumin, 1 1/2tsp. garlic powder, 1tsp sea salt, 3/4tsp. ground ginger, and 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric in a small bowl. Preheat grill to medium high. Lightly coat both sides of 6 3/4in. thick boneless pork loin chops with olive oil, and rub with the spice rub. Grill (uncovered for charcoal; covered for gas)until the pork forms impressive grill marks on one side, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and continue to grill until meat is just firm to touch and just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes, depending on thickness. Transfer to serving platter and let rest for 5 minutes.

   The thick style chops are a favorite to BB-Q and the rub makes them even more delectable.

   The Washington Farmers’ Market starts at 5pm but the downtown square is home to entertainment until 9pm. Thursday Night Live at 6:30 and the Washington Municipal Band at 8pm extend the evening enjoyment under the lofty trees of Central Park. Join us downtown………..see you there!

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A Midsummer’s Garden

Linn County Master Gardener Claire Smith shares the following:

 

Can you believe it’s already July?  The favorite daughter’s corn (all 24 stalks—remember it’s her first garden adventure) are way taller than knee high.  Her two tomato plants are huge; the pumpkin plants absolutely covered with blossoms.  The kids are so anxious to see the fruits of Mom’s labors. What fun this is!

                So how is your vegetable garden fairing?

§  You may be surprised to know that you will want to water soon, if you haven’t started already.  Gardens – vegetable and flower -need about one inch of water per week.  Remember it’s best to water thoroughly early in the day. 

§  Fertilize leafy vegetables and sweet corn when the plants are about half their mature size. Peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and beans should be fertilized when they have started producing fruit. Spread about two cups of a low-nitrogen fertilizer about six inches from the plant for every 100 feet of row.  Never put fertilizer directly on the fruit.

§  Continue to monitor for pests, add additional mulch if needed and remove weeds to prevent competition for water and fertilizer.

§  If you feel you must use a weed killer be careful to not get any on your ground cover.  Herbicides will kill any plant they touch.  A helpful hint is to cut the top and bottom from a milk jug, cover the weeds with the milk jug and spray the weeds inside the container.  Once the herbicide is dry, move the jug on to the next group of weeds.

§  Does your garden have a hot spot—lots of sun and dry?  There is still time to fill in. Plant some annuals.  Zinnias, Sunflowers, Dusty Miller and Cleome are both heat and drought resistant.  Deadheading (removing dead flower heads) will increase flower production.

Do enjoy your garden where the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor will be a tasty and safe special treat for the entire family. 

 

Another reminder – if you would like to become a Linn County Master Gardener  contact the Extension Office at (319) 377-9839 for information regarding the program.

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Not so sweet pest

Entomologist Donald Lewis, of Iowa State University Extension, offers the following information about the bane of sweet corn:

One of the pure pleasures of summertime in Iowa is eating sweet corn fresh from the garden or farmers market. To the dismay of gardeners, growers and sweet corn aficionados, however, there is the matter of an occasional pest to consider. The most important and best known insect pest of sweet corn in Iowa is the pudgy, hairless “worm” found at the tip of an infested ear, the corn earworm.

Corn earworms come in a variety of colors, ranging from light green, to tan, brown, pink or nearly black. The caterpillar’s body is marked with light and dark stripes running lengthwise and the skin texture is coarse due to microscopic spines that cover the surface.  Earworms are only in the ear for three to four weeks but during that short time they grow to nearly 1 .5 inches in length.  Infestations may be present throughout the summer but are generally worse in late summer.

Unlike hardy residents of the state the corn earworm does not survive Iowa winters.  Instead moths that lived and grew in southern states on either corn or cotton last year are blown here during May and June each year to reinfest the state.

These recent-arrival-moths fly after sunset and reproduce by depositing their eggs on the fresh, green silks of the sweet corn ear. These eggs hatch in two to six days and within an hour the tiny, young larvae crawl into the silk channel and move to the tip of the developing ear. The larvae feed on the silk and developing kernels and foul the ear with excrement.  About three weeks after silking the sweet corn is ready to harvest and eat, and there, waiting for you at the end of the ear is the much-grown earworm caterpillar.

The amount of corn earworms in the sweet corn crop varies from place to place, from year to year and with the time of the year.  Mostly the damage is determined by the number of moths in the vicinity which depends on the weather and other factors. Some varieties of sweet corn are more or less susceptible to earworm attack, and genetically modified varieties are available that produce their own defense against caterpillar attack.

Growers and gardeners who want “clean” sweet corn must work to prevent the earworms from getting into the silks. If the caterpillars are already crawling toward the ear tip it is too late to stop them. A typical preventive management strategy is to spray insecticide on the corn ears throughout the entire period when green silks are present. 

Insecticides for the home gardener include azadirachtin (Neem), Bacillus thuringiensis, carbaryl (Sevin), or permethrin. Spray at the first sign of silk emergence (one or two days after tassels appear) and again two days later after silks have elongated. For complete protection, especially in later plantings, spray a third time three days after the second spray.  After the silks turn brown there is no benefit to spraying.  

Admittedly, this is an extensive amount of insecticide but it is currently the most practical method for assuring worm-free sweet corn.  The alternative is to not treat at all.  Instead, cut off the damaged tip of infested ears and enjoy the remainder of the ear.

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