Of Corn, Potatoes and Sunflowers

The corn crop we harvested is now turning into dried corn. It just didn’t work out with Frank’s recovery to process it for human consumption, so we are drying it on the cob for the animals. Interesting how some events in life teach you something new. This

is yet another thing we haven’t tried yet, drying corn. A few of them had started to sprout before we got the shucks turned back, and even though it should have been done earlier, I thought these sprouts were very interesting.

The last of the potatoes have been dug and we estimate, we haven’t weighed them, that all together, we have harvested about 100 pounds of potatoes this year. That’s amazing for us, and by far the best crop we have ever had. We plan to try growing a few more this fall, if for nothing else, for seed potatoes for the spring.

The sunflowers had started to droop quite a bit and some of the bigger flowers had a good supply of seeds. 

A strong storm that blew through last week, bent some of the plants over to the point that they could not recuperate. So I decided it was time for harvest.

 

I wanted to use these thick stalks as a heavy mulch in front of the house where we want to make another herb bed. This is the same place where I put all of the corn stalks. 

The sunflowers were too hard to pull up, so I got out my loppers and started cutting them down. Pruning shears also worked great to cut the flower heads off of the stalks. 

After I started cutting them down, I realized that some of them were kind of brown and gooey in the middle. I figured that had to be some kind of pest damage, but I didn’t see anything. Several of the flower heads were smaller, but looked dead and kind of folded up. 

So, I broke one of them open and found this little guy. He’s hard to see. It’s a small brown worm on the fleshy part inside the flower. He’s actually sitting on some of the light brown goo stuff. This same plant had the brown goo in the stem, so I figured they were related. There are several kinds of worms that affect sunflowers. I found this out after I found the worm. Since this is our first real (although small) crop of sunflowers, it has given us yet another chance to learn more things about growing crops for animals. These seeds are destined to become feed for the goats and chickens. We will also save some of these to grow next year’s crop. This year’s sunflower crop has been grown entirely from last year’s harvest. We think that is really neat.

I think it is really fascinating that each sunflower is made up of a gazillion tiny flowers and that each flower makes a seed. A sunflower seed. Just amazing.

 The potatoes are bagged up and stored in the house, the corn is drying on the back porch, and the sunflowers are drying on the front porch next to the squash we picked for seeds and the tubs of seedlings for our fall crops. 


And, guess what? Today we picked our first red tomatoes. Even though it is pretty late for the first red tomatoes, I think it was all by design. God knew we would be busy with Frank’s healing for a bit, so we haven’t had and green beans or tomatoes to pick. But now that Frank is doing better, there will be many things to put by for winter. Life is good.

Until next time – Fern

6 thoughts on “Of Corn, Potatoes and Sunflowers

  1. A few years ago, we grew some corn that we dried. We peeled off the shucks and let them dry on a cookie sheet in a sunny window. We only had a few ears we experimented with, but it was fun.I am not the best person to ask when to pick corn. I usually end up waiting too long and it gets tough. I have been told, and actually did this a couple of times this summer, to wait until the silks are brown then peel down the top of the shuck just a little. If the silks are mostly brown, but still a little green right next to the cob, they are ready. Frank does the finger nail test. He pulls back the shuck then pokes a kernel with his fingernail. If it kind of busts and is juicy, it's ready to eat. Maybe someone else will share their technique.I hope that helps a little. Thank you for the questions.Fern

  2. I don't know if it would work for this corn. I do know that is not it's intended purpose according to the package. We have grown an open pollinated Indian type corn before that we dried and ground up. It did not make corn meal but corn flour. We used it to make cornbread, but it wasn't as good as regular cornmeal. Field corn is what you make cornmeal out of, but we haven't grown any….yet. Thank you for asking.Fern

  3. Last summer I grew about 6 sunflowers, which was my first try at growing them. I waited to pick one of them until it was pretty dried out, but the others I cut when I could roll the top little flower heads off and see the seeds (like on the header picture). They dried up and we were able to harvest the seeds. I am wondering about the ones I harvested this year, though, because of the worms I found. I hope they dry out okay and the worms die from lack of food, but we'll have to wait and see. Thank you for sharing.Fern

  4. I picked one of my volunteer sunflowers (it came up from bird seed) when the head started to droop and the seeds looked mature. I feared the birds would eat all the seeds if I left it in the garden I brought the head in the house to dry but it wasn't mature enough and the middle rotted. I guess I'll leave the rest in the garden until they are dry and loosing seeds to be sure they are mature enough. Pat B.

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