Allotment, Crop - Seed to Table, Grow Your Own, Harvests, Storage

GYO – Sweetcorn – Seed to Table

The weather this spring was irregular, after a few early sowings had dampened off my children and I set off a final round of seeds in a hope to grow our own little corn field. I find that larger seeds are the best to share with them, they are large enough for them to grip and place irrelevant of their age and fine motor skill ability. For this reason, seeds such as; Broad Beans, peas, pumpkins, gourds, melons, squashes and Sunflowers to name but a few are our staple sowings completed by the children.

For my littlest I obviously maintain setting the position within the pot in which they are sowing, however for my older children they are brilliant at spacing out the seeds having plenty of practice over the years. I really enjoy sharing this process with them, engaging them into counting the seeds out for and back in to their new home. It is nice to be able to work outside on a warm spring day and see their progress.

Eventually we hopefully receive wonderful seedlings, Tomatoes we try to plant early to ensure a good variety and once sown they pot them on at the various stages until their final position in the greenhouse. Obviously this is guided as they have to be careful with their seedlings, but they do a fantastic job. It can be a messy play activity as soil often escapes in the process, however I believe it is wonderful to see their faces on seeing that their tiny seedling is now a strong plant.

After potting on their sweetcorn we delivered it to the greenhouse at the allotment placing it into a tray for water. After a week they were around a foot tall so I set them in lines of 6 seedlings between the pumpkins in the bed which was already mulched with straw. The seedlings set well and grew on fantastically even in the height of the drought they were holding their own.

After waiting for the cobs to mature this month we finally removed the cobs and plants from the ground, this bed now being already dug and clear for spring the strong roots were still evident in the ground as I turned over and weeded the soil. The harvest was around thirty cobs, varying in size which was a reasonable return for our invested time and energy.

To Store;

Once clearly ripe which you can check by making a slit in the outer leaves, when the cob tassels are browning off, if the cobs are still white, a good few weeks will be needed until they are ready to harvest. After around a month they were ready so we removed the cobs and brought them home.

After stripping the outer leaves, using boiling water I washed the cobs and placed them into freezer bags. Finally placing them in the freezer, to store until ready. in the final count their were around twenty reasonable sized cobs.

The learning curve;

So from seed to table, it takes a long time to produce the wonderful cobs, which are a family favourite. It may seem a poor return but when you have a process your children can focus on and complete a few stages at a time, counting, watering, potting on and seeing the fruit ripen I believe with the amount of crops we grow the experience is both valuable for seeing how their food is grown, as a practical learning process and for reinforcing basic mathematics.

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

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