Preparing a bed for corn

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by pippimac, Aug 24, 2011.

  1. pippimac

    pippimac Junior Member

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    I'm planting a block of corn this summer.
    I've only grown it once before, with less than stellar results. I came across 'Navajo Black' seeds and couldn't resist...
    I want to start preparing the bed now so I have a ready-to-go, nitrogen-rich corn banquet rather than trying to keep up with feeding it during the growing season.
    I've had wheat (carbon crop) in part of the bed, which I've just cut down and I assume will need some serious smothering.
    The soil's a bit tired and dries out very fast.
    I'm thinking plant a load of broad beans and lupins.
    Maybe add half-finished compost and seaweed, then plant legumes into that?
    Then I can cut the legumes a couple of weeks before planting the corn and mulch heavily.
    Sound sensible? I'd love to read any handy corn hints.
     
  2. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    My corn hint comes from reading what the masters did - the American natives planted their corn above a fish head or such and fish seems to be beneficial to the crop. We use fish emulsion which we make up in advance with BD preps and aeration prior to application. Fish heads may invite animals to dig up the head and the young corn plant.

    If you do plant the broadbeans as a green manure, think about adding a silica plant such as oats and a brassica such as mustard for nematode bio fumigation.
     
  3. Curramore1

    Curramore1 Junior Member

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    Corn needs a fine soil tilth and has a relatively high soil temperature 16 degrees C plus for germination to be successful. Plant and row spacing have to be wide as corn is a gross soil nutrient feeder, particularly of nitrogen. At least 60 cm between rows and at least 100mm between seeds. Corn needs a heap of water and must be planted into moist soil. I place a slow releasing fertiliser ( chook manure pellets ) and nitrophoska special under the furrow and hoe in before planting, place the seeds, then cover with soil by french hoe 25-35mm. After corn germination I plant apple cucumber or butternut pumpkin seeds in the gaps where the corn didn't germinate. When the corn is 30 cm or so high I side dress with a higher N fertiliser or composted sheep manure tea depending on how green the corn leaves are ( some measure of N being used) and chip out any weeds and hill up again with the french hoe. When 30% of the silks are out I dust them with derris dust and repeat on new cobs each week to slow down corn earworms. It rains here all through November to March, so, If I plant after the late September lightning storms, I will have mature cobs to eat in about the third week in January, and the standover cobs will hang down and dry for seed to be shucked in late March or April. My fav fresh corn cooking is to dry oven roast in the husk grubs and all. ( you don't have to eat themas well.)
    Plant the corn in squarish blocks to maximize pollination. Much of the pollen from the male tassle falls after midday to be collected by the strands of silk of the cob. Each silk is connected to a future corn grain, so if a grub eats the silk before the pollen grain has reached it and grown a tube down the silk to the embryo, which becomes the kernel, then no kernel. You can increase pollination by cutting a mature tassle after midday and spreading pollen onto the silk. The cucumbers/pumpkins grow in the filtered light of the corn through the hotter months without sunburn and are ready at the same time. Keep all other plants from growing under the corn by hand weeding every couple of weeks. If it hasn't rained here for a week they will need a deep watering during peak growth from week 4 to week 14.
    The minimum daily soil temperature here at 100mm deep is now 11.5 degrees C and daily max 13.5 degrees C and it is raining steadily. I have placed black plastic on the area I will plant corn next which has been grassed for the past 5 years, then manured with 150mm composted sheep manure since June and that covered with assorted mulch, mainly cut blady grass to a depth of 150mm. It's was a mass of weeds such as spear thistle, cobblers peg, clovers and milk thistles which I chipped and generally bashed around and then put the plastic over. When the temperature increases in about a month I'll spade it all to the depth of the spade and then with the french hoe reduce to clods and then with a rake reduce further, dig the furrows and plant. Just another note, it is wise to plant just one type of corn if you want to use the seed each year as they will cross and give you heinz variety corn with all sorts of weird combinations, especially in the second year. I had this once after planting Indian corn and popping corn at the same time close together.
    Next season I will plant french beans in this block, then mulch and rest through the following winter or plant an onion crop such as leeks or spring onions, then zucchini or potatoes in the following summer. My Dad used to put a layer hardwood sawdust on the soil after planting the seed assumedly to keep nematodes at bay? I never got to ask him.
    Corn really rips it out of the soil so shouldn't be planted too repeatedly on the same ground. I also rip out the old plants after harvest and roughly place or sort of weave them between star pickets to make a bio-degradable wall for my garden compost as they break down quite slowly and the besides the old trash gets in the way of the following crop. Corn is one of my favourite summer foods.
    I have a picture of my paternal Grandad on this exact piece of ground standing atop a corn silage stack some 15 metres high taken around 1905, so it may just run in the blood?
    Happy corn culture!
     
  4. pippimac

    pippimac Junior Member

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    Thanks people, I'm going to chat to my local fish shop. I don't drive, so getting fish-bits home presents a bit of a challenge!
    Curramore1, is Derris still on the organic register in Qnld?
    It's considered pretty bad news over here. If I had ear-worm issues I 'd try the oil thing, then resort to bt.
     
  5. Tulipwood

    Tulipwood Junior Member

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    Thanks for asking the question pippimac - I have my seeds ready to go and now have some excellent advice from PP and currimore1 that I didn't know I needed until I read it.
     
  6. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

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    What's Nitrophoska special?
     
  7. toolworx

    toolworx Junior Member

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    Could you plant some Pea crop when the corn is 30 to 60 cm High? the pea would draw up some nitrogen from deeper down wouldn't it?
    Well that is what I am planning on doing. I like the sounds of the butter nuts in the rows. Also heaping up with some partly composted Lucerne hay would give it a later boost??
    Foliar spraying with Lucerne tea will also be a good idea.
     
  8. pippimac

    pippimac Junior Member

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    I'm giving 'the three sisters' garden a go: corn, drying beans and 'winter squash'. Actually, it'll be more like five sisters, since there'll be cleome and giant sunflowers in there too.
    Hopefully my current high-legume cover crop will fix enough nitrogen to start the corn off, and maybe the beans will help keep it up. I get confused about N fixation and release timeframes. Anyone got a good link?
    I can get aged sheep shit, so I think I'll be chucking a bit of that around too!
     
  9. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    Complex Granular NPK Fertilizer for Soil Application in Agricultural and Horticultural Crops...


    ...or...

    ...a complex non-organic fertilizer I can do without.
     
  10. Curramore1

    Curramore1 Junior Member

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    An inorganic fertiliser that used to be labelled Nitrophoska blue, mainly N in a quick and a slower release compound and P, again as a couple of combos plus K and micros and trace elements widely used for macadamia, banana, corn, citrus and other gross feeder type trees. A 40 kg bag at $65.00 does my 100 odd orchard trees and 200 odd ornamentals for a year, mainly applied now after spring rain and through summer over three or four applications. A mature orange tree would get about 150 g and then an organic mulch of dried sheep manure and urine and cut blady grass put thickly over it just prior to flowering as they are now here, and then just before Xmas and then when the fruit is colouring up at Easter. It really speeds up the breakdown of the organic mulch.
     
  11. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    Sorry Curra, you lost me at the word, "inorganic". That goes against everything my property is about. I am in the Fukuoka / E. Hazlip camp with regards to my property, No inorganic chemical has been placed on this property since I became its Warden, nor will any.

     
  12. toolworx

    toolworx Junior Member

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    How do you know it needs N,P,K? maybe one may be to low but maybe one may be to high? What about C or or Mg for example? Have you done a soil analysis?
    Just asking.... :)
     
  13. Raymondo

    Raymondo Junior Member

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    N fixing plants, legumes and the others, use pretty much all the excess N that their little microbe friends fix. The N is only released into the soil/atmosphere when the plant dies. Beans planted with corn won't compete too much with the corn for N because they can get their own from the rhizobia but they will not add N to the surrounding soil while they're alive.
     
  14. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    That's not quite true Raymondo. As the roots of a legume die they release the N. Roots die and are replaced over and over during the life of a plant. You can encourage roots to die back by pruning a plant - hence pruning a leguminous tree releases N into the surrounding soil as the roots "self prune".
     
  15. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    I am not too sure of the relevance to this but the beans in the three sisters has the added role of lacing the corn stalks together for better wind protection and the nitrogen fixing runs in conjunction with this function. Nitrogen sources need to be outside the beans as these corn plants are gross feeders and though the legume will give some nitrogen the beans will use most of it.
     
  16. pippimac

    pippimac Junior Member

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    I often come across eco and Raymondo's opposing info and despite my half-arsed efforts online, I haven't found anything definitive. Any links guys?
    I'm kind of covered either way as I have a mixed cover-crop growing consisting of a few different legumes, mustard and rye which I'll chop down and mulch over before the corn goes in.
    I'm under no illusions that a few beans will give corn the nitrogen it wants; I'm growing loads of drying beans this season and corn stalks provide another bean climbing-frame!
    toolworx, are you talking to me? I'm losing track a bit.
    I've had tests and I don't need p or k, but I'm pretty damn confident corn will gobble as much n as I give it.
     
  17. Raymondo

    Raymondo Junior Member

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    I see eco's comments as an expanded rather than opposing view.

    As for references, I'll see what I can track down.
     
  18. pippimac

    pippimac Junior Member

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    Expanded sounds much friendlier, thanks!
     
  19. Raymondo

    Raymondo Junior Member

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    Having let myself get sidetracked, I should post what I intend doing for my corn bed in future, too late for this season.
    Come late summer, I want to sow a combined crop of legumes and grass (or other bulk) which will die down when the frosts begin in mid-autumn. I will try cowpeas and sorghum first up as both are reasonably cheap and both are frost tender. I'm planning on mixing them in equal proportions to see how they go. I have plenty of room so I can rotate the corn bed and leave it quiescent over winter with its frost-killed mulch cover.
    Actually, I'm not sure whether I'll sow them mixed, sow one first then the other, or sow in strips. I'm tempted to sow the cowpeas first and as soon as they've germinated sow the sorghum. I sow small amounts of sorghum at work for students to use and it always germinates and grows quite rapidly so I'm concerned that it would overwhelm the cowpeas if planted at the same time. Other possible legumes are common beans, soybeans, mung beans, adzuki beans etc. and for bulk buckwheat or millet.
     
  20. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    Raymondo - consider including a brassica too - mustard works well. This will give you a biofumagant against nematode as well. I would also consider chopping the crop when in it;s prime and laying it as mulch as letting it die from frost will not see it in it;s prime and it;s value as a soil builder will be diminished imo
     

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