Faming Help, Growing Vegetables, How To

How to Grow Corn

Corn plants will most certainly grow in most types of soils, but to nurture the plant till it produces cobs or ears is not a simple task. You need to be aware of what it takes from the time you plant seeds to the time the cobs are ripe for harvesting. The plant is a heavy feeder, and for the cobs to mature, the plant must accumulate enough heat or heat units for the time when it is growing. Its daily length or its size does not determine the quality of yield.

When the chilling spring frost is over, corn need temperatures that exceed 50 F. This amount of heat is suitable for the heat units to be created. And since corn grow taller than most garden plants; they shade other crops such as vegetables. There are many varieties of the crop that do well in different parts of the world. Before you sow the seeds, find out from your local agricultural officer which is the best type of corn for you particular area.

Land Preparation

Like most other crops, the first step to corn growing is land preparation. The crop requires a lot of space so ensure that you have enough space for the corn. Plough the land thoroughly to ensure that weeds are removed.  In some parts of the world, corn is grown all year round so long as there is enough precipitation, but in other regions, it is important to know the planting season. Late April to early June is the ideal time for planting the crop.

Planting Corn

Since corn is quite vulnerable to extremely cold conditions or frost, make sure there is no danger of frost when you plant the seeds. Plant the seeds after the soil has reasonably warmed up. The seeds need about 60 degrees to germinate. You must not attempt to transplant corn because they often die when they are transplanted. It takes seven to ten days for the seeds to germinate.

Your garden might be in an area of short seasons, and you could want to plant them indoors. In this case, you should use biodegradable containers so the plant’s roots will not be disturbed during the time of transplanting. To speed up the process of warming the soil when the cold weather persists, you can spread black plastic sheets to warm the soil in the planting area.

The patch for corn planting should be sited on a wind-protected and sunny area. To get the best yields, plant you seeds in a piece of land where you previously grew clover, hairy vetch or beans which enrich the soil. Corn is a heavy-feeding plant particularly on nitrogen.

Seeds should be sown just 1 inch deep during early planting, but when the hot midsummer weather has set in, you can plant them up to 2 inches deep. Seeds can be planted at intervals of seven to fifteen inches because the average rate of germination for corn is almost 75 percent. Depending on the variety of corn, plant one to three seeds in one hole. If they are more than that, thin them after they grow above the soil level. Take care not to disturb the remaining plants when you remove the unwanted seedlings.

Weed Removal

Apart from being a heavy-feeder, the crop is susceptible to the presence of weeds. Use the most efficient method of weed control to remove all weeds around the corn-stalk because the crop cannot compete well with weeds. You should do this when the corn is about 3 inches during the first month of their growth. When weeding, take enough care not to disturb the plant’s roots. When they are growing, the shallow roots can spread out almost a half a foot from the stalk. To protect the roots from damage, you can add mulch to stop the weeds from growing.

You should plant corn in circles or in blocks to encourage cross-pollination between the plants.  And when corn is growing add manure or compost beneath each seed farrow. In the row, they should be 8-10 inches apart, but the double eared or large varieties should be planted at least 24 inches apart. Ensure that the corn is weed-free until they are above knee height.

Top Dressing with Nutrients

Compost fertilizers, fish-based organic nutrients and blood meal are ideal for side dressing the corn crop when the stalks are about 6 inches. The process should be repeated when the crop is about knee-high. Cutting any side growths or suckers might damage the roots of corn, so do not attempt to pluck them off because they cause no harm to the corn.

When the stalks start tasseling, the corn will require about an inch of water weekly. To avoid getting corn ears with a lot of missing kennels, ensure that the crop gets sufficient water. You can apply the water to the soil using drip irrigation of a hose for soaking, but when the rains are enough, you shouldn’t worry.

Maturity and Harvesting

Different types of corn crops mature at different time intervals, however, majority take 2-3 months to ripen. The days to maturity are often listed for each variety on the seed packet. The best way to know whether the corn is ripe is to check for the silks at the top of the ear. When they turn brown and dry as the corn begins to droop then the ears are ready. When cut, the kernels also produce a milky fluid or juice. Harvesting should commence once the husks of the plants have turned dry and yellow brown in late summer or early fall.

Faming Help, Growing Vegetables, How To

How to Grow Potatoes

Potatoes can come in a variety of different sizes, shapes, and colors. However, when you grow your own, you can be satisfied knowing you’re paying virtually nothing for a large crop of tasteful, nutritional spuds. Below, is a guide to growing your own potatoes without needing to shop for the usual five-pound sack each week at your local grocers.

1. Purchase the Seeds

Potatoes are created from seed potatoes, which are potatoes that have buds sprouting on them. However, make sure that you only use certified seed potatoes from your grocer’s, since others can contain bacteria and diseases that can raise a bad crop. You can also order seed potatoes from your local garden center as well. The variety of potatoes you can grow includes the Irish Cobbler, French Fingerling, All Blue, and Kennebec and Katahdin.

2. Prepare for Planting

One week prior to planting, put your seed potatoes in a hot spot that averages between 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the sprouts start growing growing on the potatoes, you’re ready to start planting. At least three days prior to planting, cut up your seed potatoes into two-inch pieces, with each slice containing at least two buds. Once you cut them up, you let them sit in an area at room temperature for up to three days.

3. Prepare Your Garden

To grow a good crop, your potatoes need to be planted in loose, healthy soil with plenty of sunlight. Using a gardening rake, you should regularly keep the soil loose, while adding in fertilizer.

4. Plant Your Potatoes

When choosing a place to plant your potatoes, make sure that the area can be easily drained and has enough rooms for the roots to grow.

Trench Method

The trench method is the most traditional method and involves creating a small trench, at least six inches deep, to plant your seed potatoes in. Then, simply cover your potatoes in a few inches of soil, and continuously add in the soil as your crop grows.

Scatter Method

This method just requires you to put your seed potatoes on the soil and cover them up with a couple inches of fresh mulch. Then, you only need to add in a few more inches of mulch as your crop grows. However, if you have a constant rodent problem, you should avoid this method.

Container Method

The container method is among the easiest and takes up much less space than the other methods. All you have to do is plant your seed potatoes at the bottom of a tall container, such as a trash barrel. First, place 6 inches of soil at the bottom, then insert your seed potatoes. However, you should make sure to continuously add in soil as your potatoes grow taller.

5. Maintain Your Potatoes

Since potatoes don’t thrive well in rich soil, you should have plenty of organic material in your soil. As long as the pH is neutral, your potatoes should grow healthy. However, your crop does depend on a consistent water supply, make sure you water them up to an inch per week.

6. Hill Your Potatoes

Five weeks post planting your potatoes, they should be hilled or have soil piles around their stems. This way, your new potatoes can grow above your planted seed potatoes. When you hill your potatoes, it’s okay to cover your entire crop or even leave a couple leaves exposed from the soil. However, you should hill frequently to avoid new tubers being directly exposed to the sun.

7. Harvest Your Potatoes

Potatoes are ready for harvest in roughly 70 to 100 days after planting your seed potatoes. A large hint that your potatoes are ready for harvest is their yellow leaves and reduced foliage. However, you should leave them in their soil for up to an additional three weeks to harden their skin. While harvesting, you should use a garden rake and hands to dig them up from the ground.

8. Eat/Store Your Potatoes

Once your potatoes are harvested, they should be immediately washed off prior to eating. However, if you plan to store them, you should find a dry spot to cure them for two weeks. Once cured, sort through which potatoes are healthy and which ones are too shriveled or soft. The healthy potatoes should be placed in a secure, cool spot where they can sit for a few months.

Pest and Disease Warning

When planting your potatoes, watch out for these pests and diseases.

Pests

Aphids and beetles can easily defoliate your crop. You should be regularly monitoring your potatoes early on in the season to make sure this doesn’t become a problem. To do this, check the sides of your potatoes for any eggs or larvae of pests that can ultimately ruin your crop. Make sure you remove these pests by hand and attach red wire worms around your potato crop to avoid wire worms.

Diseases

If you notice corky areas or sunken holes on the skin of your potatoes, they may be suffering from scab, which is caused by low pH in the soil. However, you can avoid this by adding peat moss to your garden or raising the pH of the soil.

Faming Help, Raising Animals

How to Milk a Cow By Hand (It can be fun!)

To get the most from a dairy cow, you have to milk the cow every day, or she may stop producing milk and develop problems with her teats. However, unless you own more than 15 dairy cows, the cost of an expensive milking machine outweighs the benefits of using it.

You can save more money when you do it by hand, and while milking by hand has its difficulties in the beginning, it only takes time before you master the technique. After you know how to milk a dairy cow, you could probably do it blindfolded. Until you reach that stage, however, here are some things you will need.

Disciplined Schedule for Milking

You should milk cows twice daily, and you have to milk your cows correctly so that they feel happy and generous with their milk. As long as you handle your cow with care, she will produce milk from her udders when calving. Because her teats get stimulated from calving, she naturally produces the milk.

Clean and Sanitize Everything

Hands down one of the most important rules of milking a cow by hand relates to sanitizing everything. The main areas to sanitize before you start milking include:

  • Your hands
  • The teat you will be pulling on
  • The bucket to collect the milk
  • The receptacle to store the milk with

Without proper care of hygiene in the workstation, it affects the quality in the final product. Even worse, a failure to keep your workstation clean can lead to a buildup of harmful bacteria like mastitis, which is a disease of the udder that can spread from cow to cow and hurt your milk production. Clean the buckets out after each use and rinse it well with hot water. When cleaning the cow, you don’t necessarily have to wash her fully, but you should wash and brush the side of your cow to prevent debris from dropping into the buckets. Finally, you should wash your hands and the udder before you start to hand milk your cows.

Beware of Kicks

It doesn’t matter how docile your dairy cow acts out in the field, she can kick like a mule if she feels threatened. For that reason, you have to treat your cows with respect and tie their legs together with a strip of leather or cloth before you start milking. In addition to a cow kicking you, she may kick over your bucket full of milk just as you were about to finish. Some dairy farmers don’t restrain their cows, but it’s more trouble than it’s worth in the end if she kicks you and the milk bucket.

Milking the Cow

To begin, you will set the milking stool on the right side of your cow, and you will place the bucket between your knees so that the bucket doesn’t accidentally tip over. You should also try to get under the cow so that you shorten the distance between the teat and the bucket.

Milking by Hand: All in the Technique

When it comes to milking cows by hand, it all boils down to how you hold the teat of the cow. For example, you should always grasp the teat with your whole hand and thumb, and your forefinger should be close to the top of the teat. With the proper grasping of the teat, you stop the milk from flowing back up into the udder. After you have done this, you enclose the rest of the teat using your fingers. This will press the milk out of the cow. To effectively pull milk from the teats, you will release the grip from your forefinger and thumb on the teat, which lets the milk flow down from the udder. You repeat this process of enclosing the udder and squeezing the teat.

The Process of Milking

The actual process of how to milk a cow is not overly difficult, but it does take some time to master the technique. When you first milk cows, you should begin the process with the front teats and move to the back two teats after you have emptied them. Afterwards, you can return to the front teats and finish with whatever remains. Milking cows sets you in a rhythm, and after a while, you will learn how to pull with both hands.

A milker must exercise caution to keep small dust particles, hairs and other debris out of the milk. The most common way to do this is to set a cheese cloth over the milk bucket. While milk does get strained after, much of the dirt dissolves and passes through the strainer and into the milk. You prevent this problem with the use of a cheesecloth. After you have finished with milking, here’s some recipes on cheese making.