Sunday, August 2, 2020

Corn and Cukes in Small Space Gardens

Corn and Cukes in Small Space Garden

Driving throughout Wisconsin in July/August, you may observe huge cornfields sprawling over hillsides and flatlands in our State.  But actually CORN can be grown in small spaces as well; our backyard corn patch is 5’ x 5’ and will provide a few dozen ears of delicious bicolor organic sweet corn (genus: Zea)   I will enjoy the added benefit (a second harvest) of dried corn stalks for creating autumn displays. 

If you wish to try growing sweet corn in your small space next season, I suggest you purchase just a single packet of corn seeds (kernels).  Plant the seeds in mid to late MAY if possible, depending on your area.  Never plant just one row; corn requires multiple rows in order to be properly pollinated. We also learned that the Japanese beetles (arriving in early July) cause less damage to the corn foliage if the leaves are thicker and more mature at that time.  Mealtime Tip:  when serving corn with your meals, remember corn is a GRAIN—not a vegetable.  

Cukes/cucumbers can also grow well in a small space.  This season I planted just (16) seeds, four at each corner of our square-base wooden trellis.  They are in a raised bed so the entire patch is just 3’ x 3’.  As of late July, I have harvested just a few burpless cucumbers, but bumblebees visit every day and are busy pollinating; we should develop many more cukes in coming weeks.  SUGGESTED SUPPORT FOR CUCUMBER VINES: I often use black electrical tie wraps; encourage each vine to crawl up legs of trellis and use tie wrap to loosely fasten to trellis.

Cucumber beetles will likely arrive soon… those cursed little yellow polka dot or striped beetles! Since I utilize organic gardening practices only, these beetles pose a problem for my plants.  Someone suggested placing sticky paper cards tucked into the cucumber vines; this sounds like a bit of extra work but may be successful—worth a try!

This summer Southeastern Wisconsin has experienced lots of warmth to help veggies grow and thrive.  Many veggies love warm days, but warm nights as well… we have been fortunate to have warmth and rain in June and July—veggies are growing strong!

M. Lynn Schmid,   Certified Master Gardener
A.A.S. Landscape/Horticulture/Arboriculture