Tag Archives: corn

winter update 2015

it’s something of a wonder that anyone reads this blog or that i have had new subscribers in the last 6 months as i’ve been so neglectful in posting.  i’m not promising anything like i’ll post more often, but i did tell myself i’d get one more post in this year.

if you would like to stay up to date – you might want to follow on twitter or instagram – my handle on both of those services is @dirtysabot – and i post much more frequently.

thanks to those new readers, and now on to the post.

the main reason i’ve not been posting, is that i’m busy doing the stuff i could be posting about, instead of posting about it.  also my kid is really demanding of my attention these days, and i’ve been getting some freelance work.  all this is to say that i’ve not had a lot of free time.

so a few highlights of summer/fall.

out in the garden we install nine 4×8 raised beds.   while our soil is generally good quality and the lead levels not very high, because of the kid’s elevated blood lead levels we decided to take no chances and installed the raised beds. i didn’t take any shots that give a good perspective, but this gives you a little bit of an idea.  raisedbeds

we also installed rain water totes – which gets us off the grid for outdoor water use – at some point i’ll post about the pump we are using and irrigation systems.  raintotes

successes in the garden – strawberries planted last year (that was only last year?) gave us a great harvest – i ended up with 8 gallons of berries in the freezer plus lots of fresh eating.  the kid loves strawberries – so we only have one bag left.  i’m thinking we will need to put in more beds this coming year.  maybe next year, we have a lot going on. strawberriesour peach tree – which really shouldn’t be bearing yet, gave us a nice little crop of sweet fruit. peachesi successfully grew sweet corn for the first time in years – though by the last picking the squirrels had noticed – i’m not sure i will be as lucky next year.  still it was worth the effort and i enjoyed these ears of silver queen. cornwe had a huge harvest of cantaloupe, more than i could eat – so i ended up freezing it.  makes a pretty good base for smoothies, even the stuff that is not nearly so ripe.  melonsthe fig tree survived another  record breaking winter and even provide us with a bit of tasty fruit.  figsthis years break away winner for most exciting new variety to grow in the garden – pink princess – the most amazing cherry tomato i think i have had.  pinkprincesseven alice waters said it might be better than sun gold.  speaking of – alice waters and will allen came to visit – that’s pretty cool right?  willandaliceother big new variety highlight for me was stocky red roaster pepper- a frank morton selection – anytime i see his name associated with a variety i’m willing to give it go.  these are prolific, delicious peppers that kept going well into november in the hoop house.  i’d be ok with only growing this variety.

my folks came to visit and they were kind enough to help put in this flower bed. it’s right outside my dining room window – so i can stare at the flowers while i eat breakfast.  flowerson an east coast visit i collected paw paws from the banks of the tuckahoe river – i saved seeds from the best ones – and perhaps in another 15 years i can be saving seeds from michigan maryland paw paw crosses.  pawpawfinally the project that has been taking up most of my free time this fall has been enclosing my back porch and making it into a mudroom.  this has many major advantages  – storage for coats and muddy shoes – but also added security and warmth.  it also helps keep the house cleaner – and soil from being tracked in – we are still working to get the kids lead levels lower and soil from outside is a possible source for higher levels.

before porchbeforecurrent mudroominclosedi still need to finish the siding – but that may wait until spring – inside is insulated – but still need to be drywalled, and painted – but now that it is inclosed we can work on that even on cold days.  thanks to s for looking after the kid so much so we could work on this project and to my friend j for all the help framing and installing door and windows.

what have been yr big projects of the summer/fall?

massive smut

i’ve haven’t bothered to plant corn in years, it’s just too much of a pain, between corn ear worm and squirrels, it’s hard to get an ear for yourself.  but homegrown corn is in a category of its own, almost worth all the work for the chance that you just might get a bite of tasty corn.

while i don’t have the willingness to grow it, the youth in the neighborhood are not nearly so jaded as i, and decided to grow some in their garden.   kad – their guide in gardening wanted some advice in when to harvest the corn, and so we spent some time inspecting the corn.  what we found were some lovely ears of corn, a bit small, but extremely tasty, and some smut.

dirty smut!

i was much more excited than anyone else about the smut – they seemed a bit sceptical that it was even edible.  seeing as it was the first day of work for our new americorps volunteer rachel, i was sure she wouldn’t turn it down wanting to make a good impression, and sure enough she popped one in her mouth quite quickly.   kad on the other hand, having been a victim of my unusual taste in food was a bit more reserved, but he ended up eating some to.  the smut in the picture is too big, you really want the small stuff, before the center turns into nothing but black spores.

smut is a delicacy in some cultures, especially those of mexico, and it’s for that reason that i feel the need to eat the smut.   people whose entire life is centered around  corn, find a positive position for smut,  that which attacks the food that is their staff of life – instead of cursing it.  maybe the phase should be the when life gives you corn smut, make tamales, instead of when life gives you lemons make lemonade.  i think we could learn a lot from the mexican position on smut.

perhaps most surprising is just how good corn smut is for you.

i find corn smut to be much more mild tasting than it’s rather vulgar looks would imply.  it has a definite earthly mushroom taste, and a fresh corn flavor at the same time.  i don’t necessarily find it something to seek out, but i guess i can see why some would seek it out.  and the more i write about it the more i would like to taste it properly prepared.

any ideas of where to try it?