This year I am going to try and crossbreed two different varieties of corn and I know nothing about de-tasseling. One variety (Painted Mountain) has a shorter length of growing time (75-80 days), while the other, Seneca Round Nose has a full 100 days to maturity. Painted Mountain is much shorter than Seneca Roundnose also. I am planning on growing them every other row. I want to improve the Painted Mountain, taking qualities from the Seneca that I find desirable, (like strong stalk strength and good ear protection and larger ears). Both are flour corns. Which one do I de-tassel? The reason I ask is that I am afraid that the silks from the PM will be brown and done by the time the SN is in full tassel.
Crossing two varieties of corn with different maturity dates is often kind of tricky, although sometimes the two will pollinate at the same time. Go figure! But all is not lost, if that doesn’t happen. Instead of planting every other row, plant your Painted Mountain on the up-wind side of a patch a week and a half AFTER you plant your Seneca Roundnose. In that way they’ll both be ready for crossing at the same time; i.e. tasseled and silks produced on your Seneca Roundnose. To make sure you get a good pollination rate, instead of depending on just the wind, de-tassel the Seneca Roundnose as the immature tassels form without pollen. Then place a paper bag over the tassels of your Painted Mountain and bang on the bag to collect the pollen. Repeat with different bags (to avoid dumping out your collected pollen) until you have enough. When you have collected enough pollen, take a good pinch of pollen from one bag and sprinkle it liberally on the silk of a Seneca Roundnose plant. Repeat with as many ears as you wish. Be sure to spread the pollen well as each strand of silk needs to be pollinated to make one kernel of corn. It may take some years to achieve your goal but hang in there. Each year choose the ears that demonstrate the qualities you are looking for the best to use as seed the next year. Corn breeding is a lot of fun! — Jackie
Last year I went to the feed mill and bought alfalfa meal and blood meal to use in the garden. The blood meal stunk to high heaven. But I took and added both of these to nothing but pure gravel with egg shells ground up at each spot of squash and tomatoes and got a good crop off of everything I did this with. Is there anything I could put into these “growing holes” to make them even better? I just guessed at the amounts to put in the holes too, maybe I should have a better recipe.
As you know, our favorite soil amendment is “Mo’ poo poo” or rotted manure. Without a soil test, I can’t give specifics on how much alfalfa meal and blood meal you should add; if you add too much, you’ll have too much nitrogen and the tomatoes will have terrific vines and little fruit, although the squash would leap for joy. Rotted manure is less of a gamble. By the time it’s rotted, the nitrogen level is less apt to cause problems with such crops as potatoes, carrots, peppers, or tomatoes. And rotted manure is cheaper and a lot of commercial alfalfa meal is made from GMO alfalfa these days. — Jackie
I recently had a friend tell me about canning cake. I have another friend that does it also. How safe is that? Eggs, oil, flour, canned? Seems risky.
I used to can cakes and they were good and handy too. BUT now there’s a lot of warnings by experts that there is a possibility of botulism from canned breads and cakes so I stopped, figuring that I didn’t want to take a chance with our family’s health if there was truth to their cautions. There is so much more to can up I just didn’t want to take a chance. — Jackie
20 most important items for a homestead
What are the twenty most important things you have on hand that get the most use and you simply couldn’t live without for homesteading?
Oh boy, 20? Okay, I’ll try. First is Will, my husband, and my supportive family and friends. Definitely number one! Then there is my Troy-Bilt horse tiller; chainsaw to help build, fence and cut our winter’s wood; my pressure canners; hundreds (thousands?) of canning jars and lids; tomato cages and steel stakes; tools such as shovel, pitchfork, fence stretcher, rake, hoe, hammer, saws, square, level, tape measure, crowbar, etc. (are each one of the 20?); our ATV; fencing material … okay, that’s 10 … kind of!
Then there’s, our water pump and irrigation system that pumps water from our spring basin up to the gardens, orchard and berry patch; our hybrid electric system (solar, wind, and battery bank); also generator (okay, I could live without ’em, but life’s much nicer with them!), our Mehu Liisa steam juicer and Nutrimill grain grinder, the Mantis tiller, livestock panels (for fencing, trellising and much more), the wood-fired livestock water tank heaters, Old Yeller, our trusty bulldozer (could live without it but would hate to as we use it a whole lot); the new barn with hay storage; fence around the gardens, berry patch, orchard, new pumpkin patch and pastures; and our trusty pets Mittens, Hondo, and Spencer.
Well, that’s 20 … kind of. I’m sure I left out something and YES, we could “live” without a lot of it as I have for years in the past. But all are sure nice to have around. Especially Will. — Jackie
All questions in this post were submitted by Dara Finnegan