Finally. I grew sweetcorn. My allotment life is complete.
Sweetcorn has always proven tricky for me, and all the other Burnham allotment holders. It’s not necessarily because we’re all useless growers (although the state of my cabbages would suggest there is certainly one…), it is more a problem with the good old Burnham badgers and their insatiable taste for the sweet yellow cobs.
The seasoned plotholders say you can always spot a beginner round here, as they’ll be growing sweetcorn. Most try sweetcorn in their first year. I did, and I also tried it in my second and third year, before tiring of feeding the badgers. Every year, just as my cobs were tantalisingly close to ripening, Bodger and his mates would strike.
In an attempt to beat the badgers, others built what can only be described as fortresses around their prized crops. A nearby plotholder used old radiators and pallets to construct defences that reached 5ft high. The sweetcorn grew wonderfully, and everything looked good for a bumper harvest until… yep, you guessed it. The badgers dug underneath the makeshift walls.
Trying Sweetcorn in My Garden
Sweetcorn takes up a lot of space for little return, in volume anyway. Each plant will only yield 2-3 cobs, so I’ve always chosen not to grow sweetcorn in my kitchen garden, where space is at a premium. This year, however, I thought I’d set half a raised bed aside for a few cobs, and how glad I am that I did.
Last weekend, I checked the ripeness of the cobs in my badger free back garden. You do this by peeling back the outer skin (husk) and scratching at the cob. If the juice is clear, the sweetcorn isn’t ready, but if it comes out milky, harvest time is here.
Harvesting and Eating
The sugar in sweetcorn starts to go starchy as soon as cobs are picked, so sweetcorn is definitely a crop to eat as soon as you can to ensure the best possible taste.
Another advantage of growing sweetcorn in my garden is that I can whisk the cobs away and get them cooking straight away, keeping in as much of that sugar as possible. This week we fired up the barbecue and our cobs went quite literally from plant to barbie to plate within minutes. And the result was genuinely amazing.
So Much Better than the Shops…
It is said that homegrown produce tastes much better than anything bought from the shop, and I’m a firm believer in that, but there are some veg on particular that blow the supermarket competition sky-high. Tomatoes and strawberries are examples of this, and now I can definitely add sweetcorn to the list.
The cobs were so incredibly sweet. We ate them with nothing else added and they could easily have been a dessert rather than an accompaniment to our burgers. In a tricky growing season, with plenty of problems and lows, sitting in the garden munching on freshly harvested sweetcorn was most certainly a high point of 2017.
Even Rory got stuck in.
Sweetcorn takes up a lot of space, the yields are low when compared to most other crops (and I’m a self-confessed space efficiency fretter) but boy are they worth that space.
Sometimes it’s nice to throw off the money-saving, crop maximising shackles and stick in a few luxuries. From now on, there will always be a place on my patch for sweetcorn.
Badgers permitting, of course.