7/18/07 Vol. 4 #18

An extremely pleasant meal last evening at Panzanella.  What a huge turn out, I don’t think I have ever seen the place so full.  The dishes Chris made from our produce were simple yet full of great flavors, the risotto with the sweet corn was my favorite but the pasta was also outstanding with just the right amount of Italian parsley coming through the tomato sauce.  It was good to see all of you who came out.  We drove home through a good rain so I won’t have to irrigate this morning either, what a bonus!

I was thinking about the sweet corn experiment and continue to be amazed at those farmers who consistently grow sweet corn.  We have not grown it in the past for several reasons.  First corn takes a lot of room and we just didn’t have any spare ground to put it in.  The second major reason is that you just don’t make the money per foot of row that we feel you need to make on a farm as intensive as ours, even at 50 cents an ear much less the old days when it was two dollars a dozen.  We use a rough rule of thumb that we need to gross $200 a bed (that is a planting strip 4′ X 100′) or the crop probably isn’t carrying it’s weight here on the farm.  In theory you have a corn plant every eight inches in the row, with two rows per bed, that is 300 plants per bed and, usually, you get one ear per plant so at 50 cents an ear that is $150 a bed.  That is in theory though, before the ones that don’t pollinate well, the corn ear worms, the Japanese beetles, and finally the raccoons that seem to be able to levitate over the electric fence and help themselves to all of the perfect ears that are just now full and ripe.  With this last planting we pulled about 80 ears a bed, $40 hmmm…  But corn at least is fairly easy to grow in some aspects as it is a large vigorous plant once you get it germinated and past the crows who love to pull up the tiny seedlings.  One good cultivation and as long it rains, it takes care of itself until picking time, no transplanting, no pruning, or trellising.  The good corn growers of course do it on a large scale, with tractors, so their labor is minimal until picking time.  Then to have a consistent supply requires planting every ten days or so.  So my hat’s off to those corn growers at market who have corn for weeks at a time.  We will continue to mess around with the corn experiment, for a while anyway, it is so good when it does behave, and it gives me something else to tinker with.

Picture of the Week
Brilliant Zinnias in front of the Big Tops