Growing grain is a great way to begin a field on virgin land. The term is “taking it out of sod”. Often, a field will be sprayed with an herbicide that will kill everything. The grain will be planted without plowing.
The pioneers didn’t have herbicides but would still take pasture or undeveloped land and take it out of sod with grain. I’d love to learn more about the methods they used.
My purpose isn’t to grow a monoculture (one plant) type of field or plot, but I am interested in crowding out noxious weeds. I also want to make the soil better than it was the season before.
I’ve decided to see if corn (yes, it’s a grain) will crowd out other monocots (grasses).
I planted late this year. Basically, I took a pick and dragged it through the soil, making small furrows. There’s about 6″ between rows. I planted the corn seed about 5″ apart. I also spaced time between sowing the furrows. I waited until I saw corn sprouts in the first 6 rows before I sowed 6 more.
I know it doesn’t look like much. The furrows were about 2″ deep. I dropped the corn in and scuffed the soil over it.
Here’s a pic of some of the corn sprouts…
As I said, I planted late. The corn should be at least a foot high by now. As it is, I’m looking at an October harvest. It’s a numbers game at this point. I’m hoping the corn will be done by October 20th. I’m gambling that the weather won’t get too bad by then.
A little rabbit trail of thinking: Imagine the pioneers on the Oregon Trail. They couldn’t leave Missouri too early in the spring. The rivers would be too swollen to ford. Many would take off in May. They’d seldom make 12 miles a day. It would have been late summer by the time they found their land. Little prospect of a fall harvest and they’d have a long winter ahead of them. *shrug* I’m happy I can still try for corn at the end of June.
I’d like to point out two things:
1. You don’t need to roto-till or plow up your property to grow food. Work with plants that fit the requirements your land imposes. Feel free to experiment too.
2. Everything has its season. I’m planting late and I may pay for it.
Counting my corn before its grown
I have 12 rows of corn planted. It’s heirloom sweet corn. I’m not sure about this variety, but sweet corn can have 2 or 3 ears of corn per stalk (plant). I planted an average number of 25 kernels of corn per row. Let’s say some don’t sprout and maybe the deer get some. Let’s call it 17 stalks per row. That’s 204 stalks that make it to harvest. Let’s make it 200 for easy math. 200 stalks x 2 ears of corn. That’s 400 ears of corn. I want to save some for seed, so let’s say I save 25% for seed. That’s 300 ears of corn. Wow!
Why do I do the math? Because I’m going to have to store it. Most people don’t preserve corn by canning. Corn is usually frozen or, less often, dried. Drying is easy.
Freezing is a process.
To freeze the corn, you shuck the ears, pulling off the “silk” (strings at the top of the ear) and the leaves around the ear. Then, drop the ears into boiling water. You’ll know they are “done” when the kernels on the corn turn from a light color to a bright yellow. Let the corn cool and then shave the kernels off the cob. There are special tools for this. Drop the corn into freezer bags and then freeze.
More math. Let’s say one ear of corn gives you 1/2 a cup of kernels. You put 2 cups of corn in a freezer bag. 300 ears means 75 freezer bags. Of course, you’re going to eat some before you freeze, but the math is important. Do you have room for 75 bags of corn in your freezer? Most people have room for 5 or 6 bags. Are you willing to pay the power bill for a freezer that will let you store vast quantities of frozen stuff? Something to think about.