My Corn Fails Like Alex Smith

Monday, September 13, 2010

Boy -- that sure was fast. I never expected the end of the 2010-2011 football season to come in early September -- but when the 49ers and Raiders turn in the kind of "El Stinko" type of performances that both squads turned in yesterday -- well -- it begs the following question:

When does basketball/baseball/hockey/tiddlywinks season start again?

Whatever the answer is -- it can't be soon enough. There's nothing like putting off an entire's day worth of work in the garden to watch something so horrible that will make you regret putting off an entire day's worth of work in the garden.

Jeez! I could have planted my lawn by now!

Total Crop Failure!
As I was staring at the complete crop failure that is my corn this Monday morning -- it reminded me that I hadn't seen anything quite this bad or demoralizing since -- well -- yesterday's Seahawks-49ers opener. And then -- it hit me: my corn failed as badly on me this season as Alex Smith failed the San Francisco 49ers.

There's no way around it. There's no hiding the disaster. It's right in front for everyone to see: a complete and utter failure. My 2010 summer corn crop and the latest reincarnation of Alex Smith.

I will say this much however: last year -- I had a great crop of corn -- a wonderful harvest that I blogged about here. So -- at least I can say that I had ONE good year under my belt.

As for Alex Smith -- well -- no....

Sickly Corn
To be brutally honest though -- I'm not sure what exactly what went wrong with the Bird corn crop this year. However -- I can tell you that we're not alone. A lot of other gardeners reported the same garden lament to me this season: total and complete corn crop failure.

The seeds for this year's crop of Golden Cross Bantam came from Lockhart Seed in Stockton. I knew -- from last year's experience -- that seeds from different varieties should not be planted close together (they will cross-pollinate and you'll get all sorts of weird and wacky combinations). We used a bed located close to a bed that was used for last year's successful corn plantings -- after amending it -- of course.

Venus and I planted seed for the first two rows in Mid-April. We planted a third and fourth row some three weeks later in early May. The fifth and sixth rows were planted two weeks later -- after other seeds had germinated and jumped out of the ground.

Everything looked A-OK at first. Sure -- the weather wasn't cooperating all that much. Sure -- it was cold. And yes -- that cold weather would have an effect on the other crops like tomatoes -- melons and squash.

But it didn't result in outright failures either.

Purple-Colored Corn Stalks
Nope -- the first sign that something wasn't quite right in Dodge was when I noticed this purple coloring showing up in some of the first rows that we had planted. It seemed a little strange -- yes -- but then again -- we were also experimenting with a new variety. Perhaps this is the way it should look?

But -- as the growing season moved forward -- I began to notice signs that something just wasn't right. Normally strong corn stalks were rather thin and wispy. Developing tassels weren't growing far beyond the weakened stalks. Worse yet -- the purple color I had noticed near the bottom of the stalks was slowly moving up the plant.

Soon -- it would overtake the entire row.

The end result? Venus and I managed to grow a lot of corn cobbettes rather than actual cobs. They didn't taste very good either -- and the harvest just wasnt worth our time. Additionally -- the later rows that we had planted were not doing as well as we had expected. They were stunted in growth. They seemed to be lacking in something.

Now -- to be fair and honest -- I'm not the only Natomas gardener to suffer a complete corn crop failure this season. Others had the same type of problem. They didn't plant as much as Venus and I had -- but they all had similar problems: purplish coloring on the stalks -- weakened stalks -- and little to no corn production.

In other words -- we weren't alone. Misery loves company.

So -- what went wrong? I'm not sure. I know it wasn't a lack of fertilizer or water. Our crops received regular fertilization and were on the same drip system that our successful corn crop utilized last season. Other crops planted nearby -- such as squash and tomatoes -- exhibited much better production.

Could it have been the unseasonable cool weather? That is a possibility. Corn -- like a lot of other summer crops -- needs sustained summer heat to do well. We didn't get a whole lot of that this season.

So -- in retrospect -- it could have been a lot of things. It could have been a combination of different factors.

As for me? I'm blaming my crop failure on Alex Smith.


Fred Hoffman said...

Buy the Lamotte Soil Test Kit that tests for pH, N, P, and K. Test the soil where the corn is. What was planted in that area last year?


Geez you love punishment. Pick another team and test your soil like Fred suggests. I'm working on getting my fall seeds planted now. Go Cardinals!

Anonymous said...

Your corn is Fine!!! It is Alex Smith, that is the one that stinks!!!lol

Greg Damitz said...

My corn turned out great for some reason. The only problem was I couldn't get it all eaten in it's prime. I stayed with the tried and true Silver Queen. I've had enough other summer vegetable problems though. I didn't get even one watermelon, the tomatoes were super late, and I only have one measly Giant Pumpkin and there is nothing "giant" about it.

Bill Bird said...

I'm still blaming it on Alex Smith! Let's see. The test bed is divided into four different squares. The square that held this year's corn was used last year by squash and pumpkin crops. These squares are right next to one another Fred -- the corn should have done better. And Maybelline? There's only one thing worse than being a fan of the Cardinals -- and that's getting stuck in Bakersfield. Oh, sorry...

LauraBee said...

Ummm ... don't know about the purple stuff, though it happened often to my parents' corn end-of-season & since they never had issues in following years, I assumed it was just the way corn died. And they planted acres of the stuff to feed our huge family. But that was Alabama soil, not California.

More importantly however - corn is wind-pollinated. A single row of corn isn't going to produce much unless you have magical winds ( or planting skills) that blow straight down the row in each direction to carry pollen. To get a good crop of corn you need multiple rows or block plantings. And wind. Think Iowa or Kansas conditions.

Indoor Fountains said...

Keep the faith!! Alex and the 49ers will give the Saints all they can handle on Monday night. The Seatyle game is more of an anomoly than anything- they still win that division

Anonymous said...

alex smith stinks and he cant even make a simple ten yard pass without either throwing the ball to hard or over someones head!!!

Anonymous said...

Bill Bird your an idiot
Alex Smith 255 yards 3 TDs against the Seahawks, 3 of his losses are against great teams by only 3 points or less, Saints,Eagles,Falcons.

Your crop is bad because your attitude is bad, any QB would have failed in the 49ers horrible offense the last few years with the exception of Martz they all suck the O line sucked for years Favre or Rodgers couldnt have succeeded in this and your blaming Alex, you my friend are an idiot

Bill Bird said...


How do you feel now Mr. Anonymous? I believe last night's loss was a tad more than three points. And Alex Smith once again reverted to his old Alex "Meltdown" Smith ways. Face the music Alexcusionists -- his time as a 49er is over. And if you think he's going to succeed somewhere else -- you're part of the Alexillusionist Team.