Gardening Pap

Going To The Cornfield With Pap

Growing corn in western nc
Yesterday morning I went to the cornfield with Pap. Funny how you wait for that first fresh corn and then before you know it-it all comes in at once.

Cornfields

This time of the year-our cornfield is a jungle. You can barely get through the rows for the ragweeds and morning glory vines. Granny is scared to death of snakes. She warns us to look out for copperheads. But I like it. I like the feeling of being surrounded by all that green: by the towering stalks, by the hum of summer.

Magic in the cornfield
In between helping Pap pull corn I snapped some photos of the beauty. Isn’t the orange lovely? Especially considering it’s only a weed?

morning glory in the corn rows
In some spots morning glories have woven the rows of corn together almost like they want the corn all for themselves. When I see this flower I’m reminded of walking to catch the school bus, they grew near the side of the road. I would pick one; place it too my mouth; and breath in suctioning the flower to make it cover my mouth. I was a strange kid uh?

Wild apricots
In places you can see this little beauty growing. Pap calls them wild apricots. I think they’re passion flowers. Whatever the name, they are a true creation of beauty.

Working in the cornfield

Wild Bill never strays far when we’re in the corn patch. He’s always hoping someone will give him an ear and if they don’t he usually sneaks one out of a bucket.

Dry weather causes corn too
Then there’s Pap-ever teaching. He shows me how the hot dry weather we’ve had caused the ear not to develop on the end. Pap says “It just didn’t have enough of what it needed to make all the way.”

Runouts in corn
Paps says “When there are gaps left in the ear of corn the old timers called that a run-out.”

Silver Queen Corn in western nc
Our crop of corn is good this summer. Pap says “There ain’t a thing wrong with corn like this. That’s as fine a ear as you could get.”

Being in the middle of a cornfield is one of the most magical places I’ve ever been.

Tipper

 

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42 Comments

  • Reply
    Helen Gardner
    July 30, 2019 at 10:16 pm

    I love this post. I was and am a city girl but my aunt and uncle had a 10 or 12 acre place in Oklahoma City. They had chickens, pigs, a couple of cows and various cats and dogs around the place. My uncle taught me how to milk a cow and all us cousins pitched together when it was time to work in the garden and bring produce in for mom and my aunt to work on canning. I don’t remember the year but I was probably 7 or 8 when they were excited to try freezing some of the ears of the corn instead of cutting all of it off the cobs to can. I, too, didn’t know until I was way grown about the difference in sweet corn and field corn. This brought a lot of memories back and I thank you.

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Glenda Beall
    August 2, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Such a beautiful post on the cornfield and wildflowers. Sweet corn! It is soooo good.
    We had cornfields as far back as I can remember. Large ones for the animals when I was little, and later Daddy grew corn for our large family. Mother made the most wonderful meal of creamed corn, fresh tomatoes, fried okra, biscuits and cornbread. We had to have both because she liked biscuits and Daddy liked cornbread with his vegetables. We had corn every day when it was ready to eat, and I was not fond of going out to Daddy’s big garden to gather the roast’nears as my folks called them.
    Daddy kept his garden hoed out until the corn stalks were so tall it was impossible to work between them, so we didn’t have many of those delightful wild flowers and weeds there. But we had “maypops” and my sister and I enjoyed gathering them and playing with them. Morning glories grew along the fence rows in south Georgia and I never saw a prettier sight.
    I have a story about learning to drive the tractor in the corn field when I was six years old. I’ll post that on my blog soon. You inspire me with all your lovely posts, Tipper.

  • Reply
    swanson susie
    July 29, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    Tipper I enjoyed this post. My Dad used to tell me the same thing about corn. I was always afraid of pack-saddles. They would sting the fire out of me, but I still liked going into the corn patch. Susie

  • Reply
    Janet
    July 29, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    You have nice looking corn. I don’t like being in the middle of the cornfield, because it is so itchy!

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    July 28, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    I envy you the passion flowers — I’ve never seen one around here.

  • Reply
    RB
    July 28, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    No ma’am.
    I remember getting lost in one when I was little, and it scared the boogers out of me. I remember running in circles, and being hot, and screaming for our dad, but don’t remember if he found me or I found him.
    Down the road a piece, there’s a garden center that has a cornfield maze for Halloween. I think I might try that this year, a maze I can get out of…at least nowadays I can. Learned how a few years back.

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    July 28, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    Beautiful story, pictures, & comments! Isn’t it amazing that something as simple & basic as fresh corn strikes such a note in our souls?

  • Reply
    Mamabug
    July 28, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    I’ve always loved walking through the tall corn stalks to harvest corn. The beautiful little red morning glory is a favorite of mine; it’s called cypress vine here in Florida and it’s quite abundant in the wild. The photo of Paps hands holding the ear of corn is my favorite.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    July 28, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Tipper,
    Tell Bf that I have never found the seed here for sale in my area..where i buy my seed for al the red vines for the hummingbirds…but Park Seed Company (look on their website catalog) carries the red, pink and white mix…I just may order them next year…The red Cypress it the best seller around here so the clerk told me so they just don’t stock the pink and white…
    Thanks Tipper

  • Reply
    Charlotte
    July 28, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Oh that looks sooo good! I’m glad you’ve had enough rain to make a good crop; the foliage looks so pretty and green.
    Picking corn isn’t bad; it’s the long hours of putting it up that I don’t like. One forgets that however, in the winter, when I can go to the freezer and have summer on the table.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 28, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    Tipper the flower pictures are pretty but the best pictures are the hands.
    The beautiful hands that plant and tend the corn, they pick and shuck the corn.
    They reflect the soul of the wise man that talks and points and teaches, gently and softly.
    Pap’s hands speak volumes if he never uttered a word.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    July 28, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    I have collected the seeds from those saffron-colored morning glories and brought them back to Northern Indiana and planted them. It is a beautiful little flower but I won’t get to enjoy it here; it just won’t grow out here on this northern prairie.
    Hot sun, insects buzzing, the wonderful smells inside the cornfield, the hide-out and escape from woe, jarflies trying to out-do one another, a chicken hawk screaming overhead; God gave us so many good places.

  • Reply
    kat
    July 28, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Enjoyed reading about the corn and flowers. Like Granny, I was so busy looking for snakes that i never took time to notice much of anything. My theory was to pull a few ears fast and run!

  • Reply
    Rose C.
    July 28, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Being in a garden that you have worked with your own hands is magical! Have a blessed day!

  • Reply
    Dorothy
    July 28, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Beautiful ears of corn. In Kansas there is very little corn as it all burned up from the horrible heat we are having. I do not remember a summer like this but I know it has happened. 111 Degrees yesterday and climbing up today. We need rain. Wish I could eat some of that corn.

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    July 28, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    I’ll plant the corn and work in the corn til it gets to a certain stage, and then I won’t go in there anymore! Too scary for me. Come picking time it’s my husband’s chore!
    By the way Tipper … I planted by the signs this year and even with all the funky weather we’ve had so far, this is one of the best gardens I’ve ever had!

  • Reply
    B f
    July 28, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    well i dont know about the hummingbird vine being in any color except red , i have those and would sure love the others
    and i so enjoyed the picture of the hands of your grandfather , they were hard working hands and had provided for a lot of hungry people , i am impressed with hands like that as they remind me of the ones gone on and we cant forget

  • Reply
    EBet
    July 28, 2011 at 11:53 am

    You have beautiful weeds! We haven’t had over-head corn in a while, its barely knee high at the moment.

  • Reply
    NCMountainwoman
    July 28, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Once again you have filled my head with wonderful memories. We always called them Maypops, although my daddy called them Wild Apricots. We had tons of fun making ballerinas from the flowers and we found dozens of things to carve from the pops themselves. Maypops and toothpicks and a child’s imagination!
    I always had such fun picking corn. We would come to the house hot and sweaty and if we were lucky Mom would let us cool off in the creek.

  • Reply
    Ken
    July 28, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Tipper,
    Your cornfield looks beautiful.
    By the time the Silver Queen makes
    its supposed to be full of weeds
    and wildflowers.
    I love to take my smallest grand-
    daughter thru the corn and watch
    her looking up trying to see the
    sky. Its the real jungle to her.
    Thanks to you I’ve got the most
    squash and cucumbers I’ve ever
    had, let alone all the different
    types of tomatoes. Ain’t life
    good?…Ken

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    July 28, 2011 at 10:23 am

    Tipper–Joyous post. Larry Proffitt’s comment about Pap not being a pilgrim goes right to the heart of matters. Anyone who has had much business with a packsaddle knows that long sleeves are a blessing. For that matter, corn fodder will cut you as well, although it’s much worse after it dries.
    What Pap calls wild apricots we always called maypops. The fruits had lots of uses–as grenades in boyhood “wars,” as a handy and pretty much harmless missle to chunk at a buddy or some girl, and the pulp surrounding the seeds is edible when the fruits turn yellow in late summer and early fall.
    As for the small red flowers, have you considered planting scarlet runner beans amongst the corn? They have spectacular flowers AND produce fine beans. Then there’s the option of October beans (that’s what Grandpa always planted), crowder peas (they’ll climb right up a corn stalk), or pole beans.
    I’m curious as to when Pap stops hoeing his corn. Grandpa, and for that matter, Daddy as well, carried matters too far for my tastes. Both of them considered a weed in the corn, until after it had made, an abomination.
    As for the ears which don’t fill out in places, that’s almost always a result of imperfect or incomplete pollination.
    Great post and delightful photos.
    Jim Casada
    http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    July 28, 2011 at 10:02 am

    I’m of the “Maypop” generation, too. We stomped ’em and they do make a big pop! As an adult I realized that a beautiful flower we had destroyed (but it was fun!)

  • Reply
    Wayne Newton
    July 28, 2011 at 9:57 am

    I was in high school before I ever heard of “Sweet Corn” or “Field Corn”.As a boy, all our corn was the same, just corn.
    Primary use was for the hogs, cows, mules, and chickens.
    Mama watched the corn field out behind one of the tobacco barns, as it matured enough for “Roasting Ears” at the same time we were “Put’n in Tobacco”.
    She first looked for the ears to show silk out of the top of the shuck. Just as the silk began to show a tinge of color, she started to beg Papa to not let it get too mature
    My three brothers and I learned early on how to punch a thumbnail into a kernel of the corn; once at the base, and once at the top end where all the silk was.
    When she could finally get Papa to let us boys gather the corn for our table, it was almost too mature for humans, but since it was that way most years, we all ate it with gusto!
    This was before home freezers, so most of our corn was “Creamed” and of that she put-up many, many cans, though Papa did try some frozen at the Moultrie Freezer Locker.
    When I left the farm for college at 17- 1/2 years, Field Corn was still the only one eaten at the Newton table; and Mama was still begging him not to let it get too hard.
    Thanks for the memories.

  • Reply
    Becky
    July 28, 2011 at 9:32 am

    He taught me a thing or two, too. Thanks, Pap!
    I don’t have a corn “field” but I do have a corn “patch” and I love looking and walking through the rows. And sometimes I find surprises like your flowers. My surprise is rabbits. I’ll be posting about it soon.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    July 28, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Tipper,
    The word should be “hummingbirds”..
    I didn’t correct the hyphen after I added a few more words, old age and typos…..I know you don’t have a giant hummingbird in your garden..ha
    Thanks…Or do you?

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    July 28, 2011 at 8:49 am

    Tipper,
    Wow….I love the pictures of Paps hands and the corn…You can just see the expressive knowledge in his hands as he holds the corn..no comment would have been necessary..
    Now then, about those flowers…I love, love. love morning glories…and they don’t hurt the corn..they actually help hold the shallow rooted stalks together in a storm..especially after they get the heavy ears on them. I think that is their job in the cornfield..My opinion only!
    I can’t believe I buy Cardinal Climber Vine seeds (the red impodea picture) and you have them growing native in your garden..I am surprised you were not bombarded by the humming- bird. They love them..I also grow Cypress vine on trellises for hummers too. There is a white and pink one, but have never found the seed for them..they are native of Mexico..
    We use to have Passion Vine pod wars when we were kids…We would load up on the green fruit and hide in the high brush and bombard each team..Usually this took place in late August when the pods were big and some were beginning to ripen to a yellowish orange, with a fragrance that was heavenly..We would break open the
    ripe ones and eat the fleshy sweet smelling seed…(sort of like a “pithy” pomegranate)..I have a few growing in my little pond area and the blooms have outdone themselves this year..but they will get very invasive…
    I love a corn field and I can’t comment on the beautiful corn you have grown, ’cause every time I look at the picture I “drool” on my keyboard….Ha
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Larry Proffitt
    July 28, 2011 at 8:24 am

    I notice Pap’s no pilgrim in a corn patch, he has on long sleeves. Larry Proffitt

  • Reply
    Clint
    July 28, 2011 at 8:17 am

    very well done…the corn and the story.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    July 28, 2011 at 8:04 am

    A little later in the summer, my cousin and I used to go out in what was then a pasture (now an apartment complex ;-( ) beside the house where a passel of those passion flowers had produced what our folks also called apricots.
    But we called ’em hand grenades. We’d carry a poke out there, load them up, and then throw them off the high bank down to see them splatter when they landed on the “New Road” – which was, I’d guess, about 70 or 80 feet down below us. So when they hit, they would – as Canned Quilter’s folks’ name implies – pop.
    By the way, that road is now called Fontana Road on maps and the Road to Nowhere by a lot of local (and nonlocal) folks. But to me, it’s still – almost 50 years later – the New Road.
    Of course, boys being boys, the temptation to see if we couldn’t blow up a truck or car with our arsenal of grenades became too great. When we managed to hit one, they’d usually just slow down for a few seconds and go on. We’d just hunker down in the high weeds or get behind an old honey locust tree and giggle.
    But I remember one time when we both launched at the same time – and both hit – a pickup truck belonging to the highway department. The brakes slammed on, and out popped a feller that was about eight feet tall and weighed around four hundred pounds. He couldn’t see us, but he sure commenced to bellering with a set of lungs that were even bigger than he was.
    Well, we didn’t get caught, but Jimbo and I added a whole new string of adjectives and nouns to our vocabulary that dog day afternoon.

  • Reply
    Debby Brown
    July 28, 2011 at 8:00 am

    oh goodness yes! one of the best spots in the world.. to be down amid the cornstalks. I always felt so small down in there, the dirt on my feet, and no one knew where I was. The cornfield had completely engulfed me, I was just a little bug hiding and running around in there. So much fun as a child! sometimes, I wish I had a cornfield now.. not only for the corn, but for my hiding away place. For those times when you wish no one could find you or yell your name. Just silence other than the July flies and the birds. mmm heaven! 🙂

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    July 28, 2011 at 7:56 am

    An ear of corn fresh and raw off the stalk, yumm. Yep passionflowers and maypops are the name of the pretty flower. They also make a fruit you can use in salads. At least the ones that grow wild around here. (Don’t want to poison anyone)

  • Reply
    Carol Isler
    July 28, 2011 at 7:53 am

    The summer of ’81 my mother and my two uncles, Marion and Johnny, got real ambitious and set off six acres of sweet corn down at the dairy as our puttin-up patch. I stayed in the corn field all summer with morning sickness on top of that. I’d hoe and puke and hoe and puke. This post took me back there, sans the nausea, of course. Thanks.
    BTW, we never planted that much corn for people again.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    July 28, 2011 at 7:49 am

    What I remember as a kid was going into a corn field to chop for silage. Run a big silage chopper behind the tractor with a truck to catch the chopped corn (stalks and all) for the trip to the silo. You could smell it fermenting by the time you unloaded it. The cows were contented (and probably drunk!) in the winter. These were Black Angus beef cattle on my uncle’s farm.

  • Reply
    lynn legge
    July 28, 2011 at 7:40 am

    ahh tipper those pictures are beautiful.. i love how all the flowers and corn are alltogether.. as you said.. a magical place to be.. and our Good Lord blessed us with it all 🙂
    Wish i could give you and pap a hug… been very melancholy here.. have an ear of corn and think of me.. it looks yummy..
    big ladybug hugs
    lynn

  • Reply
    Sheila Bergeron
    July 28, 2011 at 7:35 am

    ummm, wouldn’t some corn be good now? I can almost taste it and it looked so good. God Bless you and enjoy.

  • Reply
    Brother James
    July 28, 2011 at 7:33 am

    On the “passion flowers”: I grews up on a farm and we also called them “maypops”. The fruit looks like a miniature watermelon, and when ripe, they turn a golden color and the seeds inside are inside a golden pulp-sack much like pomegranite seeds. Kids back then used to eat those seeds.I don’t know about the rest of them, but somehow I survived. I could be wrong, but I don’t think they were harmful.

  • Reply
    Bradley
    July 28, 2011 at 7:28 am

    Tipper- Question….Was it the cornfield or was it what was IN the cornfield that pleased and comforted you so! Pap, those wildflowers, and Wild Bill and you being with them could be it.
    Wildflowers always excite and comfort me much more than those fancy hybrid flowers at the florist. They seem to have a secret mission.
    Don’t let Wild Bill get bit by a Copperhead.
    Bradley

  • Reply
    Tipper
    July 28, 2011 at 7:16 am

    Pam-they’re common in our cornfield : ) The bloom on the red/orange ones is much smaller than the other morning glories-maybe they’re a different variety or even a totally different species-but they look like morning glories.
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia
    http://www.blindpigandtheacorn.com

  • Reply
    GrannyPam
    July 28, 2011 at 7:06 am

    My Morning Glories are all blue, purple or white with blue and purple. Never saw a red one, are they common there?

  • Reply
    Canned Quilter
    July 28, 2011 at 5:10 am

    The Passion Flower or wild Apricot you refer to my parents called a MayPop : )

  • Reply
    Jo
    July 28, 2011 at 5:10 am

    This may be my favorite of your conversations. I just closed my eyes and could see and smell and feel the memories. I want to experience your day just one more time. Thank you, I’ll go see my parents today.

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