Monday, July 29, 2013

Corn crop failed

A few months ago I started growing corn in my veranda. Today I pulled the plug on this underperforming plant. As always, it's time to take a look back and see what might have gone wrong.

The obvious problem is that corn is not a plant that is really recommended for veranda gardening. That's okay. That's what this experiment is all about. The soil is not deep enough, and the wind caused serious damage on a couple occasions due to the lack of windbreaks which more nearby stalks would have provided.

Another problem is watering. I didn't realize just how much water corn really needed. They need to be watered constantly every day. In a pot, water is a problem since it drains out so easily and evaporates pretty quickly due to the shallow depth of the soil. In the ground, roots would find water deeper and the water itself wouldn't evaporate as quickly. Still, if you see corn fields, you'll almost surely also see an irrigator of some kind. The days that I did not water may have been critical in the formation of the silks and tassels.

Corn loves heat, and this early summer was anything but hot. For a couple weeks in June, it looked like Tokyo was going to be a great place for humans. Unfortunately this meant that the corn grew in an initial environment that was too cool for it. As a result, the stalks only grew to about 1 meter.

Now it's excruciatingly hot and humid, with rain falling every day. Where was this weather a month ago?

In all, the corn stalks ended up too short, the tassels bloomed too early, and the silks bloomed too late. The end result is that the pollen never got to the silks and the corn cobs never took hold.

The final result is below. A small, inedible cob which showed no signs of growing any larger.

I still have a few seeds left over. I may try my hand at this again with the following changes:

  • A larger, deeper pot
  • The pot will be on the floor of the balcony rather than on a stand
  • More frequent waterings
  • More fertilizing
  • Waiting until the summer days warm up instead of by seasonal planting cycles

No comments:

Post a Comment