Queen Corn

Essex Farm Note

Week 41, 2013

Every few days for the last month I’ve visited the corn field and gone deep inside it, shouldering aside the stalks like a crowd of skinny giants. I would twist off an ear, pull back the husk, brush aside the silks, and sigh. The kernels were rounded, small and milky, and frost could come any day. But frost held off and in the last two weeks the kernels have grown increasingly heavy and full, and they now have a deep dent in the center. That is the look of mature dent corn, and that is a very good thing. If frost had halted its growth, the immature kernels would have molded instead of drying down. The ear I picked yesterday was healthy, mature, and larger than any we’ve ever grown. Corn yield is limited by genetics but also conditions; the plant regulates its offspring like a ruthless mother. In good times, with lots of nitrogen, it produces heavily. In times of scarcity it invests all it can into fewer seeds. One counts the number of kernels around the cob to see what kind of year it has been. On poor ground, we’ve had as few as ten or twelve. This year, we got sixteen. On the ear I picked, each row numbered 50 kernels. That’s 800 kernels per ear, a yield of 800:1. No wonder corn is such a hungry queen. Thanks, drainage, thanks, compost, thanks soil, and thank you good horses and farmers for getting us to this point. Of course, we still have to contend with deer, raccoons, crows, and the possibility of an early snow or freak storm before harvest. Nothing is truly sure until it is sold – or eaten!

The forecast called for scattered frost on Tuesday night, which set off a scurry to harvest the tender plants. The frost just barely nipped us, but now we’re rich in gorgeous eggplant and peppers. Sweet peppers and jalapenos can be frozen, the fiery little matchboxes can be hung up and dried. Eggplant can be frozen too, preferably already dressed in its going-out clothes: moussaka, baba ganoush, caponata, anyone? We have pretty little pie pumpkins in the share today, plus butternut and acorn squash. Share your favorite pumpkin or squash pie recipe with fellow members on our facebook page. And brace for cabbages, which are coming in full force next week. They are plentiful and bigger than Mark’s head (!). We are hoping to harvest potatoes this coming week, and could use ten or twelve volunteers. This is a kid-friendly harvest, and one of my favorite, especially when we have a bunch of friends in the field. It will probably happen mid-week, and if you would like to help, leave a message at the office (518-963-four 613) and we’ll call you when we know which day and time.

Farm tour takes place tomorrow. Sounds like we have visitors coming from far and wide. It’s going to be so much fun. See all the details over on the events page. And thanks to everyone who visited our farm stand this week. It’s located at the end of the pavilion, restocked daily, and open 8am to 6pm. This week, we’ll be featuring pie pumpkins, squash, carrots, eggplants, onions, greens, and decorative corn stalks.

And that is the news from Essex Farm for this royal 41st day of 2013. -Kristin & Mark Kimball

Comments are closed.