Covered in Cow Dung, She Shakily Wrote it All Down

May 15th, 2009

My garden is just about planted.  I have one corner left that still has room for something…  maybe a cantaloupe?..   A pumpkin?..  A tiny patch of corn?  

Probably not corn.  

My one experience with growing corn involved a horror movie scream coming from my own mouth each time I ripped open a tender ear only to find exploding black mold, exploding green worms, exploding maggots, exploding smut, exploding blobs, exploding slime, exploding green worms covered in slime, blobs, mold and maggots.  I have never been so traumatized by a vegetable and I refuse to EVER do it again.

Which brings to mind a penetrating question…  

Field Corn?  

Yes or No?  

Do you like the wooden tasting stuff?  

My mother, my husband, and a few other people in my life known for their immense capacity for long suffering like field corn.  Myself?  


I think field corn tastes like old glue and sawdust.

Except without the flavor of old glue or sawdust.

Why not just eat a shoebox instead?

Or a tire?

Or a shingle… freshly ripped from your roof?

It would taste just the same.

As to my garden, except for that one corner of NOT CORN and the center raised bed, I am finished!  I planned to put strawberries in the center patch, but I think it might be too late.  Instead I am going to plant some flowers in that area.  This allows me both the pleasure of looking at something pretty while I garden, AND the added benefit of tormenting the Country Doctor by putting flowers in a vegetable garden.  

So far, I have planted tomatoes, tomatoes, and more tomatoes.  I grew several varieties from seed and then at the last minute I decided to do a ‘test patch’ of some of the varieties we sell at the Garden Center.  It will be fun to compare how they grow and how they taste.  Also, next year when customers ask me which tomato is the best… I will have a real answer instead of a made-up answer.

Customer – Which tomato is the best?

Me – Uh… this one!

Customer – That is a cucumber.

Me – Oh!  I mean this one!

Customer – That is a cabbage.

Me – Oh!  Sorry!  The light is SO BAD IN HERE!  Let’s see… tomatoes… uh… Oh!  I like this one!

Customer – That is a light switch.

Me – Dammit!

In my test patch,  I planted a Jet Star, a German Johnson, a Burpee, a Better Boy, and a Big Boy… I think…  

Next year… I will be known as the TOMATO ANSWER GIRL!

I have also planted eggplant, peppers, onions, potatoes, lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, green beans, a single watermelon plant, and a small variety of herbs (green basil, purple basil, and oregano).  I grew most of these plants from seeds, except a few hot peppers, the herbs, the watermelon, and my tomato test patch.  

I have also mulched around most of the plants with layers of newspapers, placing a thin layer of cotton burr compost on top of the papers.  Has anyone ever tried this?  I hope the newspapers don’t break down too soon.  I would hate to have to re-mulch in the heat of July.



We planted a small orchard.  





Six small fruit trees grace the back forty in stately lines of three.  We are considering adding a row of three fruit trees each Spring.  We planted two apples (a Fuji and a Jonathan) two pears (a Summercrisp and a Bartlett) a Northstar Cherry and an Elberta Peach. The trees in the orchard bring the total amount of trees the Country Doctor has planted this Spring to one hundred and thirty one.  Last year he planted closer to one hundred and fifty trees.  He must be slowing down.  Most of the trees he planted are seedlings from The Kansas Forestry Department.  He buys them in bundles of twenty five.


Here is a Hackberry…


And a Burr Oak…


And a Lace Bark Elm…


And a Redbud…


Okay… actually they were all the same tree… but who can really tell at this point?

He has also planted twenty five Spruces in five different varieties from Carino Nurseries.

Planting the garden and the orchard has been a lot of work, but very enjoyable.  I am glad my vegetables are finally in the ground, because I am ready to plant some flowers!  Deep down, I am far more interested in the pretty plants than the practical ones.  I know we have to eat, but isn’t it all a little meaningless without a floral arrangement in the center of the table?

Happy Gardening,



  • We use newspapers and grass clippings (or old hay) for mulch and it works great. Unless the chickens get in there and scratch it out.

    You may need another cherry tree for pollination. Maybe there’s another cherry somewhere in the area?

    We’re still waiting for the flippin’ rain to stop!

  • jean:

    Where did you get the Purple Basil? I tried growing it from seeds and got NOTHING. So I’m back to the good old green basil. Boring.

  • Erin from Iowa:

    Do plant the flowers in the middle! They will attract zee pollinators of zee surrounding vegetables!

  • Plant edible flowers….they taste sooo good on your salads. make sure to grow Arugula also for your salads!! So yummy!

  • Wait. Your mom and husband eat field corn? You’re not talking about sweet corn grown in a large field, right? You mean the corn that is mass produced for livestock feed and tortilla chips? How the heck do they eat it or prepare it???

  • Corn smut is a delicacy in the Southern portion of our continent. Well, that’s what I learned from PW. Maybe you should cultivate it and sell it as a delicacy in your part of the world. And she-she restaurants will love you and you’ll become famous as the Smut Queen. Or something like that.

  • People eat corn smut?

    Jean – the purple basil is grown where I work.

  • M.R.:

    Smut as a food delicacy is called “huitlacoche”. I have had it in Mexico and at real-authentic Mexican restaurants. I like it. But when I have had it appear on corn that I grew myself, there was a horror movie scream coming from my mouth and I could not imagine eating it. Totally logical, yes?

    You and the CD are certainly industrious.

  • So I am one of those creepy new people posting on a random strangers blog.
    but I just had to throw in my two cents about corn.
    I grew up in Indiana, sweet corn capital of the world (ok maybe not-but pretty close). That is all I ever ate, I didn’t even know people ate field corn. We always used it to feed the squirrels. Until I went to Alabama with my husband’s family. They served up a giant pot of field corn. I unknowingly bit into it. My mouth was so appalled, it rejected the bite, forcing me to spit my food out on my plate, in front of all of my refined southern in-laws, before I even had a chance to stop. Then it was more than my mouth that was appalled. I was speechless, and confused. What was this assault on my taste buds? I had no idea anyone ate that stuff.
    Never again.

  • Megan – That is hilarious. I wish I could have seen that happen.

  • jamoody:

    What kind of tomatoes did you grow from seed?

  • We often went for Sunday drives as a family when I was a child, and often we would meander the hour towards my great grandparents house and stop for a visit. Once, while visiting with them, they served field corn as part of our lunch. My mom had tried to use her secret mom powers and tell us NOT to eat the corn because she knew what would happen when we bit into it. She kept saying, “Girls, you have to eat ALL of your lunch before you can have corn” and other motherly warnings. Well my littlest sister pitched such a fit about eating corn, my mom couldn’t do anything else but let her eat it. She took one bite, made a horrible face and stopped eating it. When we left, my sister said to my Dad, “Daddy, we better start calling Gramma to tell her we are coming for a visit.” My dad, told her that we just happened to be out that way, but next time we would call. My sister’s reply? “Well, that’s good. I think Gramma didn’t have enough food so she ran to the barn for some cow corn so she could feed us.” Needless to say, we never stopped for a visit close to meal time again.

  • Sue:

    Oh My Gosh!! Carino Nurseries is only about 5 miles from my country home in PA!!! In fact, my friend Shirley is a supervisor there. How cool! I’ve been reading your blog for a couple months now (got here from Pioneer Woman) and love your sense of humor!

  • Roseanne:

    You’re being smart to plant a few flowers around your veggies, they will attract bees and you’ll need bees to get your veggies to produce.

    Have fun, your garden looks beautiful.

  • Kait:

    OH I envy you your garden. What a lovely thing to have. But I live the a big city, in an apartment, with a balcony that gets full on morning sun. Then we have the squirrel and raccoon problem and growing veg in a box on my balcony is NOT a good idea.
    By the way, corn is a grain not a vegetable, which could be the whole problem. :)

  • Martha in Kansas:

    I wonder if you could plant some strawberries in your center flower garden along with the flowers. I don’t know if they’re compatible, but it would give them a head start on next year and you might actually get some berries next year. A friend has a small plot of strawberries and the wildflowers his ex planted years ago come up in the middle of them. The wildflowers are kind of spindly but they have filled in the blank spots. The strawberries are gradually smothering them out.

  • More tomatoes, one can never have enough home grown tomatoes!! At least not as far as I’m concerned!!

  • safetydog:

    My DH’s family used to camp quite a lot. One time, the campground was right next to a field of beautiful, ripe corn. My in-laws helped themselves to enough fresh corn for dinner. Much to their suprise, it was field, or feed corn. That sure taught them not to steal some farmer’s crop!

  • Catherine A.:

    Congratulations on the garden. I’m a week away from water getting to my garden beds so I’ve got nothing planted. Oh, but I’m plotting. I’m all for corn in the garden, but you could throw in some flowers, nothing wrong with the pretty stuff in with the practical.

    Question: how many acres do you live on?

  • Catherine A.:

    Acres question seems weird, I just mean, where do you put all those trees?!!

  • We have eight acres. He has planted close to thirty trees per acre. However, we imagine that most of those tiny trees will not live. We can’t really keep them all watered.

  • It is ALL meaningless without flowers in the middle. I love planting all sorts of plants in the spring.

    My tomato plants are a hodge podge of different varieties too. I’ve done it several years and still can’t decide which ones I like best.


  • Nancy:

    If you plant marigolds, they help keep bugs out of your garden. There are other ones as well, but I don’t remember them.
    I like Big boy and Better Boy tomatoes. I don’t have a garden where I live now, but did before. I love to watch it all grow and then getting to eat it is the best. Enjoy all of it.

  • Sheila:


  • martina:

    Sunflowers! Or maybe brussel sprouts or some taller growing veggie. I planted Cosmos near the vegetables here. Sweet Million, a roma type and two Early Girl tomato plants here. No patience to start them from seed.

  • Can’t wait to see your crop! Your corn story cracked me up.

    At the end of the season, will you write a review and give us your recommendations for next year’s planting season?


  • I need to hear more about the corn experience.

  • I vote for pumpkin. But I like the sunflower idea as well. : )
    I have quit even attempting corn here in western South Dakota. Knee-high-by-the-4th-of-July? I’m lucky if it’s at my ankles. All you get are those little baby corn they serve on salads. I like those and all, but I want REAL corn.

    I know a few people who eat field corn. Yick. Not me. Like chewing cardboard. Give me a big fat ear of sweet corn. My hubby hates eating corn on the cobb (too messy), but that’s how I grew up with it. I am bringing the boy into the folds of my obsession early so we can gang up on the hubby later. He’ll polish off 2 ears in one sitting easily (did I mention he’s 2 and a half?).

    I’m shocked you’ve (CD) planted 300 trees! We planted a dozen like that last year. I’m hoping at least 1 survives…I’m not holding my breath.

    • Rechelle:

      Sunflowers! I love that idea.

  • This is the last thing I needed to read! I’ve been a Master Gardener for the last 15 years, and I’ve been afraid to plant corn. Afraid of those very things you mentioned! Ack! I planted sweet corn and popcorn! Ack! Maybe I should go till it out! Ack! Now I’m really scared!!!!!

    When my aunt was visiting from MO, she had me go out and ‘borrow’ some field corn from the neighbor. She toasted it in a pan and ate it all hard. I have no idea why someone would do that. No idea.

    Love your blog!

  • ps…you will love the German Johnson! They’ve been one of my favorites for years!