Thursday, 26 September 2013

How do you know when sweetcorn is ripe?

Someone asked me the other day ... what do you do to relax? My answer was that I go to my allotment and I dig. If you had told me 5 years ago that my idea of relaxation would be digging manure into soil or shoring up Brussels Sprouts I would have laughed at you!

I have fallen into my allotment.Well, when I say that I've fallen into it, I mean I started it accidentally. I still wonder now - what on earth am I doing planting potatoes and building fruit cages? Who knew that growing fruit and vegetables could be so enjoyable? And I have learnt so much.

I know how to dig. I know how to set leeks and I know when sweet corn is ripe enough to pick. I know that you don't plant 35 lettuce seedlings on the same day, unless you plan on eating a heck of a lot of salad a few weeks later as they will all be ready at the same time!

There is a sweet logic about growing vegetables. You plant, you weed. you harvest, you dig over and then you start again. There is something so satisfying about seeing a plant grow strong  and tall, then bare fruit. And I love making sure that the earth around them is clear and weed free - deep chocolate brown and rich in nutrients.

My latest discovery is sweetcorn. I grew them and they bore lots of cobs. But I wondered ... how do you know when they are ready to eat?? Do you peel back the leaves? What do you do?

Well ... each kernel has a little filament attached to it and when the cob is ripe and ready to eat they all turn brown like the photo above. Inside the leaves the kernels are sweet and yellow and the filaments creamy, but at the sharp end of the cob they are dark brown and shrivelled. Cue butter and melty sweet goodness!!

The season is coming to an end. Soon all of the green you see above will be in my compost bin. I will cover my raised beds with weed mesh and just keep a few things going over winter. In October I will plant garlic and onions which will be ready next summer.

We have had meals this year where all of our veg have been grown on the vegetable patch ... potatoes, lettuce, beetroot, French beans, broad beans, cabbage, cucumber, courgette, marrow ... although not usually on the same plate at the same time ...

Now Autumn is drawing in and when the frosts come I won't be doing any digging, but I still love to go up there, just to have a little look ...

And you never know ... before long the garden might look like this again ...


Suzanne Whitton said...

Ooh interesting. We also grew corn on the cob this year but didn't know when it was ready to pick. I consequently think we ate ours too early. It was yummy nonetheless! Thankfully I have a husband who loves to tend to his veg - I've not 'fallen' for it yet!

Inkling said...


Older Mum said...

What a harvest!

I grew veg for the first time this year and loved it. We have one sweetcorn plant and one sweetcorn - bless! And thank you for writing this post, until now, I had no idea when a sweetcorn is fully ripened.