Don’t laugh. Below is a very bad photo of the best of our sweetcorn harvest this year. After all the effort in the garden it is very frustrating. I blame the weather.
“The UK mean temperature for summer was 13.6 °C, which is 0.4 °C below average. The mean temperature was average during June, 0.7 °C below average during July and 0.6 °C below in August. It was the coolest June across the UK since 2001, the coolest July since 2000 and the coolest August since 1993. The season was the coolest since summer 1993. There were only around ten days when the temperature exceeded 25 °C widely.”
There, I did say it was a bad photo, but I can’t go back and take another since it has been eaten. It was a perfectly formed miniature cob – less than a 10cm length of kernels, although they were ripe and sweet. And this was the best one.
I remember an uncle and aunt growing corn in a greenhouse back in the 1970s. It was considered a very exotic crop to us then. It is now routinely grown around here for fodder (“forage maize”) although it is often sown under plastic. Anecdotally there is typically a good harvest in five years out of seven.
I don’t sow in situ as we’re in a frost hollow and I usually plant out at the end of May. Despite using the most sunny sheltered part of the garden beside a south-facing wall I think this gets relegated to greenhouse use again.
The tomatoes have been terrible too, but there I think the problem was mostly the compost. The tomatoes, in the conservatory this year after the outdoor disasters of the last few years, produced a lot of leaf and only a handful of fruit. I ended up buying commercial growbags as a time-saving measure and I suspect they were too high in nitrogen. My father had the same problem from the same product (and no the leafiness came first – no supplementary fertilisation until fruitset). Temperature and lack of sun may have been a factor as Ailsa Craig and Sungold (indoor/outdoor) performed the best, but San Marzano (indoor here) gave all of three fruit from two plants!
On the other hand we have a super-abundance of peas, and once it got warm enough for the runner beans to do more than flower we’ve had plenty of those too.
Global warming has seen farmers experimenting with olives and apricots. Having visited The Lost Gardens of Heligan earlier this summer we were reminded of the care needed to grow non-native species in past times. I’ve been reading my grandfather’s old gardening book (published in the 1960s) and I think somehow I’ll be paying more attention to its seasonal advice.