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Video: How To Grow Corn In A Risky Farming Zone. Part 1
Sweet gold of corncobs
Corn is one of the oldest grain crops on the planet. Her homeland is Central and South America, where even before the discovery of America by Europeans, corn was widely cultivated by the Indians. According to archaeological excavations, it was introduced into the culture of the ancient Maya and Aztecs over 5000 years BC. Corn entered Europe at the end of the 15th century, and in Russia it began to be cultivated around the 17th century.
Today, corn is grown in 60 countries around the world, and in terms of acreage it ranks second in the world after wheat, significantly exceeding it in yield. The United States can be considered a real "corn" kingdom, which accounts for about 40% of the world's corn production. It is widely grown in Central and South America, Southeast Asia, South and East Africa. In our country, grain corn is cultivated mainly in the North Caucasus, the Volga region, Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus. There are crops of corn, albeit focused on fodder for livestock, and in Siberia, central regions of Russia, the Urals, the Far East and Kazakhstan. Corn is irreplaceable as a forage crop, because it has a high yield and excellent fodder qualities.
Actually, the range of its application is unusually wide. Corn grain is used for the production of cereals, flour, corn flakes, starch, molasses, alcohol, etc. A high-grade edible oil is produced from the corn germ. The cores of the cobs are used for the production of pulp and paper, and the green mass is used for high-quality silage. Milk-ripened ears are good in a variety of salads and vegetable dishes.
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A plant from time immemorial
It is worth recognizing that corn, with all its extraordinary appearance, resembles a little plant from the ancient forests of the Mesozoic, where ferns coexisted with plaunas and reached unprecedented sizes. Corn, of course, does not reach a ten-meter height (although it can handle two meters), but it is also very impressive. In general, it is a herbaceous annual plant with a thick, dense stem and wide leaves. Belongs to monoecious, in other words, each plant has both male (panicle) and female (ear) flowers. When ripe, the ears tend to turn yellow (more common) or white (less common).
However, now in the world there are decorative varieties of corn with orange, red, pink, blue and even black cobs, which are quite edible, and at the same time are an exotic decoration for winter bouquets.
What kind of corn is there?
Most often, in the huge corn family, there are five of its varieties: flint, dentate, starchy, sugar and bursting. Of course, the last two may be of the greatest interest to amateur vegetable growers in our Ural region: sugar and burst. And the first three are grown only for grain or for silage: it is absolutely unrealistic to get a normal grain harvest, no matter how fabulously productive this crop is, in our summer conditions, and growing corn for silage is of interest only to livestock owners - therefore, on these types of corn we we will not stop.
The only chance in the Urals is to grow corn for the sake of tasty ears at the stage of milk ripeness. For this, as a rule, sweet corn is chosen. It is her cobs in milk maturity that are most tasty and are used in the preparation of all kinds of vegetable dishes, canned vegetables, and are perfectly frozen.
Bursting (or rice, or popcorn) corn is also a real delicacy, and until recently, its seeds in Russia could not be found in the afternoon with fire. Now they are on sale. Rice corn is distinguished by the fact that when roasted, its grains burst and turn into numerous snow-white loose flakes (the volume of flakes is 15-25 times greater than the volume of grain), which are used for food. But so that the grains burst, i.e. so-called "explosions" took place, the moisture content of the grains must be high enough (above 10%), so the cobs need to be dried a little, and then immediately used. The grains are fried in a well-oiled, preheated frying pan, which is closed with a lid.
And tasty and healthy, and a joy to your teeth
Corn is an extremely versatile plant. For what only it is not used, from cooking corn porridge and ending with the manufacture of linoleum and film. But its main application, of course, is food. Flour, cereals, cornflakes and sticks, corn oil (once an almost impossible dream of Russian housewives), molasses, sugar, beer, alcohol, vinegar, etc. This list can be continued for a very long time, but I think that's enough.
And if you remember that in terms of nutritional value, corn is not inferior to green peas and vegetable beans, is rich in sugars and starch, contains a wide range of vitamins (A, C, B1, B2, PP and E) and minerals (potassium, calcium, magnesium salts, iron, phosphorus), and also improves digestion, it turns out that there is probably no more blessed plant on Earth.
In medicine, stigmas of pistils are widely used, extracts from which stimulate the work of the liver and gallbladder, are recommended for cystitis and kidney stones and hepatitis.
Another very interesting phenomenon has been recorded in the world. Consuming corn has a positive effect on dental health. Most of all corn per capita is eaten by Moldovans (the most common dish on their table almost every day is hominy corn porridge), whose beautiful white teeth remain until old age.
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We start sowing
To be honest, growing corn is pretty easy. Only now she is too thermophilic. In the central zone, for example, in the Moscow and Yaroslavl regions, corn grows calmly and yields in the open field. In the Urals, of course, it can also grow in such conditions, however, in this case, the ears usually cannot be expected, and everything grown can be used only for livestock feed.
Therefore, corn has to be allocated space in the greenhouse. Perhaps many readers will perceive this fact with understandable indignation, but, unfortunately, we should not try in another way. Of course, if you have only one greenhouse, then there can be no question of any corn. And if there are 2-3 of them, and besides, they are large, then why not, especially since corn goes well with cucumbers, and it does not need separate areas.
At first, out of habit (the many years of experience in growing corn near Yaroslavl, where I lived earlier) tried to sow it in the beds, but the results were so insignificant that this option had to be abandoned.
But it's not just the greenhouse. I think the readers have already guessed that in a climate like ours, it is better to grow corn seedlings (this is how our cross can be seen). You can, of course, plant and immediately in the greenhouse soil, but the yield will be very small.
True, when growing seedlings, you can go according to a lightweight option, given the limited space in an apartment - sow seeds not in separate containers, but in one large bowl. Only, in this case, it is necessary to sow not in ordinary soil, but in stale sawdust. If sown in the ground, then when planting seedlings in a greenhouse, the roots of plants can be severely damaged, therefore the soil option is compatible only with separate cups for each plant. If the container is filled with sawdust, then the plants (with sufficient sawdust moisture) can be separated from each other without the slightest harm, and they practically will not notice the transplant.
It is advisable to soak corn grains a day before sowing so that they swell. Moreover, there is one interesting observation: when soaking seeds in a solution of wood ash, the cobs of sweet corn are sweeter. To prepare a solution of ash, you need to soak two tablespoons of ash in one liter of water and stand for two days. Then carefully drain the top of the solution and use to soak the seeds.
Sowing should be started in early April. To do this, you need to take suitable bowls and sow the seeds to a depth of 4-6 cm, having previously filled them with wet sawdust. With the emergence of seedlings, sawdust will need to be sprinkled on top with a thin layer of very fertile soil - this is done in order to ensure that the plants have nutrition before they are planted in the greenhouse.
Care during the cultivation of seedlings in the apartment is usual: maximum light, timely watering, and from the moment of intensive growth, weekly fertilizing with Kemira fertilizer and regular spraying with Epin growth stimulator. You should know that in the initial growing season, corn grows extremely slowly, and only when 4-6 leaves are formed, the intensity of plant growth increases significantly.
I would like to draw your attention to the fact that corn is considered a short-day plant, the optimal duration of which for it is 12-14 hours. Considering the fact that in the initial period of development of seedlings the daylight hours are shorter in our country, supplementary illumination of plants with fluorescent lamps is absolutely necessary.
In mid to late May, seedlings should be planted along the outer wall of the cucumber greenhouse. Plants are planted in one row at a distance of about 80-100 cm from each other.
Actually, you need to keep in mind that it is very unwise to plant corn in one row. With such a planting, pollination deteriorates sharply, and the cobs may be half-empty. Usually it is recommended to place it in 5-6 rows. However, in our conditions, when plants have to be planted in a greenhouse, there is probably no other way of placement. Therefore, you will need to be very careful about the pollination process, but we will talk about this later.
Love does not love, …
For all its unpretentiousness and fabulous yield in the southern regions, in the northern regions, corn will not give you full-weight cobs just like that. We'll have to take care of carrying out a number of agrotechnical techniques and create conditions suitable for it. Let's dwell on the main passions of this American guest.
1. Corn is a very thermophilic plant. In principle, its seeds germinate at a temperature of 10-12 ° C, but the optimum temperature for its growth is 20-24 ° C. When the temperature drops below 4 ° C, the plants seem to freeze in place, and at 2-3 ° C they simply die. The most heat-demanding corn is during the ear formation period. In insufficiently heated soil, seeds germinate very slowly, they can become moldy and rot. However, it is impossible to be late with sowing: the cobs will not have time to grow.
2. Corn makes very high demands on the soil. It gives a good harvest only on warm, loose, highly fertile (preferably black earth) soils, with a neutral reaction. The introduction of organic and mineral fertilizers under corn significantly increases its yield. The main fertilizer for corn is semi-rotten manure or peat-manure compost. Corn also responds well to the introduction of complete mineral fertilization into the soil before sowing. This characteristic corresponds to our soils in greenhouses, where the amount of introduced organic matter is maximum, and the soil, due to a large number of various organic residues, has a loose structure. On acidic, waterlogged and highly compacted soils, corn will refuse to grow - it's better not to try.
3. As for additional dressings, if the plants do not develop quickly enough in the first half of the growing season, it is good to feed them with urea (2 tablespoons of urea per bucket of water) or slurry. In the second half of summer, plants in our conditions usually have a shortage of potassium fertilizers, and appropriate feeding is required (2-3 tablespoons of potassium sulfate per bucket of water).
4. Corn is extremely light-demanding and cannot stand shading at all, especially in the first half of the growing season (within about 30-40 days from germination). Given the increased demand of corn for light and the complete inadmissibility of thickened crops, I have been planting, as mentioned above, corn plants along the outer side of the greenhouse at a distance of 80-100 cm from each other for a long time. In this case, they do not interfere either with each other or with the cucumbers growing nearby. In thickened crops, the plants stretch out, become weak and give almost no harvest.
5. In terms of moisture, corn is generally relatively drought tolerant. But not during the periods of germination, the beginning of flowering and the formation of the initial harvest - at these moments the plant turns from drought-resistant to moisture-loving, and consumes much more water than other crops, since it sharply surpasses them in dry matter yield per unit area. But corn also does not tolerate excess moisture - on waterlogged soils, it grows and develops extremely slowly and is strongly affected by fungal diseases.