Dream a Little Dream

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Corn Skewers, Duh!
"Dream on Bill Bird, Dream on!" Those would be the somewhat facetious words of the wife that is Venus as I pondered a recent purchase in our nearby Safeway Supermarket. As you can tell from the photo to your right? I did make that purchase.

"Are you thinking about using those corn cob holders on our corn crop this year darling," she questioned in a teasing sort of way. After all -- last year's complete and total corn crop failure was still in her mind (and mine as well I must say). There would be no fresh corn from the backyard last year -- just the nearby Farmer's Market.

It's a complete and utter failure that I blamed on 49ers Quarterback Alex Smith -- and no -- I still haven't changed my opinion on this. Sure the weather was crappy. But Alex was even crappier.

Enough said on the subject. I could fill blog volumes on this particular item. We won't go there. We will instead focus on happier things.

Like, corn for example.

2011 Fresh Corn Crop!
The so-called "test bed" is once again in use this year in the Bird Back 40 -- although it is a tad smaller. This is what happens when you start claiming corners and sides of said bed for additional fruit and citrus tree plantings. Still -- the remaining plot was amended dutifully earlier this spring with compost and fertilizers -- worked deep into that hard clay bedrock that is the Bird Back 40.

The Mantis Rototiller is indeed an amazing tool to have when tackling jobs (did someone say tackle?) such as this. This is our third year for using the test bed. And with each year -- I'm able to churn up and reclaim another inch or two of soil that had been hard pan.

As you can tell from the photo above -- this year's corn crop is indeed off to a rousing start. Despite the less-than-perfect spring weather, the first two rows are well on their way. Venus and farmer-in-training Marquitos Stromberg added a third row two weeks ago, and that has already popped out of the ground. I added the final three rows this past weekend.

That's six delicious rows of Golden Bantam Corn if you're counting -- ten to eleven plants per row. Do you think that's enough for your average backyard plot? Venus has also planted three to four rows of a baby corn variety in another bed on the other side of the Back 40. If you place these varieties too close to one another -- they will cross pollinate -- leading to a mutant and non-edible mess.

2009 Corn Crop
This is a lesson we learned during our first year in the test bed. This is why we call it the "test bed." It also has other names that I shall not share at this time because this is a family blog.

And yes -- if you're wondering -- Golden Bantam would be considered an "heirloom" variety. The original strain of Golden Bantam was introduced by W. Atlee Burpee in 1902. These stalks will grow to a height of five to six feet -- and produce golden yellow ears that are five-to-seven inches long.

The taste you ask? Well -- there's a reason why heirloom varieties like Cherokee Purple tomatoes and Golden Bantam corn stick around for this long. Sure -- larger and more productive strains of yellow corn have been hybridized since Burpee first offered the Golden Bantam.

But nothing beats that old world taste -- and that's what you get with each lip-smacking and crunchy ear of Golden Bantam corn. It's also a good canning variety plus the ears freeze well -- which is another reason for its usage.

Golden Bantam Corn at Three Weeks
Once again -- our test bed has been reserved for "a little bit of everything." There are some tomato plants that I've stuck in there -- but not nearly as many as in past years. The bed is also home to watermelon, cantaloupe and pumpkin crops. It's a large side yard of the Bird Back 40 -- so the vines have "room to run."

As for the corn cob holders -- it was about time that we invested in something new. Most of our original corn cob skewers were of the heirloom variety themselves. In other words, they came from mom's house. They were -- how do you say -- a tad worn.

My hope and dream is that the Birds bounce back with the kind of corn-y year that we experienced in 2009 -- our first year for the test bed. Corn crops grew large and lush and delivered some tasty offerings before the mutants moved in and took over.

I'd like to say that last year was just an aberration -- but then again -- Alex Smith is still the starting quarterback for your San Francisco 49ers.

That's enough to scare any backyard farmer.