Monday, April 3, 2017

Problem corn pollination, and dahlias

I have been so busy lately that I haven't had time to scratch my bum, lol. The weeds are coming up abundantly and I am having to spend every day on my knees weeding.
I think I may have mentioned it on another post but I am planning on putting some sort of weedmat on most of the beds to cut down on the weed problem. I am having trouble finding the type of weedmat that I want. The ones I want are VERY expensive and most don't last many years. I am slowly building up a range of test beds with different type just to see which I like best and last the longest in the sun.

I am definitely not going back to the plastic types as they fly away too easily in the wind and fray badly. I am looking at a few types of geo fabric.

 This year I am growing a new variety of sweetcorn (for me) called 'Early Gem'.
I am not happy with it for a few reasons.
1, the flavour is ok and sweet but nothing to rite home about. Not nearly as good as Anasazi, or even young Painted Mountain.

2, Even though the weather at the time of flowering was perfect, I got very poor pollination. I did notice that the plants didn't produce much pollen so I guess that is the problem.

3, I was trying to mostly dry the corn on the plants this year after having mouse and possum problems in the shed (Hopefully I will have my drying shed built by harvest time next year) but I am finding that all the corn plants are rotting off about 10-30cm from the base as soon as the plants start to die off. This means the plants are falling over and leaving the cobs lying on the ground and in reach of mice. none of my other corn varieties rot off and I have to eventually cut them down after harvest.

I am bringing the cobs in to dry in my hothouse but even with baits scattered around the mice are still getting in and feeding well on the corn.

All in all, I don't like this variety and won't grow it again unless asked. The harvest will be very low and not worth the effort and water I put on it.

I planted some bedding dahlia seed last spring and so far I am very happy with the plants. Every plant has a different colour flower and they look really pretty. I have two small beds of them.

I think I will save the seeds and grow more next year in larger beds. I will also save the tubers from this year to get them growing earlier next spring. I notice the bees are loving the flowers so I should get a fair bit of seed.

Talking of bees, I wasn't expecting any seed berries on my diploid potatoes this year as I didn't hand pollinate them and the honey bees aren't interested, but I notice today that I had a couple of native Blue Banded Bees working them and one plant has berries so maybe I will be able to harvest some seed off them after all.
I dug a few different tubers from those potatoes a week or so ago to taste but most of the plants aren't tuberising yet. They should start soon as they days are getting shorter.


  1. Hi Ro, it may be worth trying the method of corn growing as described by Peter Bennett (Adelaide, deceased) in his book Organic Gardening. I have followed his advice on growing corn every year and have had wonderful success. Cheers.

    1. Thanks I might look that book up, I always like new recomendations. Anyway, I have never had these problems before with any other of my corn varieties so I think it is just this one.

  2. I don't know how large an area you are trying to cover but I use cardboard to discourage weeds. I just lay it down, wet it, cover with straw and/or compost then good soil and plant. You can lay it right over grass/weeds and within the season weeds/grass are dead and the earthworms love to lay under the cardboard because it is cool and wet. Next season you can turn everything over and the cardboard is gone and the soil is nice and loose.