This week in the garden: The corn is wearing socks

07/04/2014 2:17 PM

07/05/2014 7:22 AM

More rain fell in the garden this week, followed by a couple of days of cool weather. Master gardener Everett Price of Haysville picked his first tomato of the season – a Jetstar – along with the first cucumbers, jalapenos and even a blackberry.

Paul Barker, another Haysville resident, has been gardening in the same spot for 56 years. His daughter Paula wrote about quite a sight in his garden this time of year: ears of corn wearing socks.

Turns out this is the way Paul Barker finally found a few years ago to keep critters such as kernel-munching raccoons, possums and squirrels off his corn.

Barker slips the socks on the ears when the silk starts to change color toward brown. And once he puts the socks on, he can expect to harvest the ears in 12 to 17 days.

And then it will be time for the annual corn feed. Barker likes to have 100 to 125 ears to serve to around 20 to 25 guests, mainly family, when he picks the corn. A simple meal is planned around the starring food: Fried chicken, just-picked tomatoes and maybe some cucumbers, if they’re ready on the vine, are served alongside the corn.

Barker has a “secret” way of cooking the ears of corn on the stove, “cheating a little” by adding some sugar to the boiling water.

“And I don’t tell people how much butter they can put on them,” Barker teases.

People argue as to how many ears they can eat. The record seems to be 11.

While K-State this week had advice about how to prevent or reduce earworm in corn, Barker has a different way of looking at the pest: “If the worms don’t eat it, it isn’t good.” In truth, he says he hasn’t had too many problems with earworm.

Treatment should be done the first two weeks of silking and every two or three days during that period, Ward Upham of K-State says. Products to use are cyfluthrin (Baythroid; Bayer Powerforce Multi-Insect Killer) or organic spinosad (SpinTor; Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew; Conserve; Borer, Bagworm, Tent Caterpillar & Leafminer Spray).

It’s more work, but you can also treat each year with mineral oil or another light horticultural oil in a medicine dropper when the silks brown, placing half to three-fourths’ worth of a dropper into the silk end of each ear, Upham says. Barker’s version of this: a little olive oil on the silk, though that doesn’t get rid of all the earworm.

If there’s any corn left over after the Barker corn feed, the family cuts the kernels off and freezes them for a garden-fresh meal in the winter. Barker always hopes there’s enough.

Entertainment Videos

Join the Discussion

The Wichita Eagle is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service