From the Desk of Ed Hume: Beans and Corn

May 5, 2010 at 1:59 AM Leave a comment

When May and June rolls around, it’s veggie time.  Yes, in most areas even the warm weather vegetables can be planted now, including two of the home gardener’s favorites, beans and corn.  The simple rule is to wait until all danger of frost has passed.

Every year, we grow at least half-a-dozen different varieties of corn.  We try to determine which ones have the best flavor, which are quickest to mature, and which maintain their freshness the longest.  It’s a tough test, because everyone has different criteria in determining their favorites.  For example, Myrna and I really like Kandy Korn.  It’s a wonderful variety that is super high in natural sugar content.  Yet, “Honey Select,” another variety we feature, was one of the yellow varieties rated as outstanding in the 2003 Skagit Veg Trials.  Continuing, our friends like “Peaches and Cream,” a great bi-color corn we feature, and in fact it’s our second favorite variety at the Hume household.

We have a friend that grew corn commercially and he always planted most of his acreage in “Early Sunglow,” because it ripens 3 to 4 weeks before most other varieties.  He would harvest and sell his crop before most growers even started their sales season.  His second crop was a secret variety, but one that matured later.  The point in mentioning this is that home gardeners can do the same thing.  Plant a few of an early yielding variety like “Early Sunglow,” then sow some seeds of one of the later maturing varieties so you have a longer harvest season.

You can plant beans a bit differently.  Most varieties mature in about 2 months (or about a month quicker than most corn varieties).  Simply stagger the bean plantings about two weeks apart and they will reach maturity at two intervals.  Myrna and I really like “Roma II” (Romano type) beans, which is a flat-pod, bush bean.

Blue Lake pole beans have been extremely popular with home gardener’s, but they have not been true to variety the last couple of years, so I would recommend the “Kentucky Blue” pole bean instead.  Incidentally, the “Blue Lake” bush variety is just fine.  “Kentucky Blue” pole bean won an All-American award a few years ago as being one of the best home garden bean varieties.

When you plant corn and the pole varieties of beans, I always suggest that you plant them up at the Northern-most part of the garden so the tall plants do not shade the other plants.  In addition, I always recommend planting the rows in the garden in a North–South direction for best sun exposure and good air circulation.

Here are a couple of hints: Corn likes to be fed with nitrogen on the 4th of July.   Beans do not like to be cultivated once the flower buds begin to develop.  Last but not least, follow the planting directions on the back-side of the seed packet.



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