Several people have asked me why I haven't made a post about my garden yet this year. I've already written about growing tomatoes, experimenting with pumpkins, canning beans, pickling cucumbers, and making salsa. What's left? Well, corn, but I have never had much luck with corn. Still, I wrote a post about the many products we get from corn, but my personal patch failed spectacularly this year, even more than other years. However, many long-time readers know how I love to use things that are already laying around, so this year I decided to make that miserable corn patch good for something.
As October drew near, I got the urge to put up fall decorations. That patch of corn might not have given us more than one meal this year, but the stalks might make a good corn shock display! So, armed with a pair of clippers and a camera, my youngest daughter and I went out to do the deed. We'd never done this before, but there's a first time for everything.
The best corn shocks, or fodder shocks, if you are using them for animal feed, consist of healthy corn stalks harvested right after the last ears are picked. We did not do that, and now that it's October, neither you nor I have a choice in harvesting earlier. We used what we had. I considered the idea of pulling the stalks up by the roots and then chopping the roots off (in order to make tilling easier), but the stalks were so dry and weak that any kind of pulling would tear them up. Instead, we settled on cutting them near the ground.
We separated the stalks in piles according to height. There was just enough for a tall shock and a medium shock. The short stalks looked good only for the compost pile.
The next step is to line up the cut ends so that they are fairly even with each other. Otherwise, you'll have trouble keeping them upright.
The best twine to tie the shocks with would be baling twine, as it is coarse enough not to slip. Getting some meant driving across town, so I instead used some neutral rope we had lying around. You must tie the stalks tight enough to keep them from slipping out, but if the rope is too tight, dry stalks will fall apart. I was expecting either or both to happen.
Well, they stood up okay. We carefully moved both the tall and the medium shocks to the front of the house.
There are several ways to display a corn shock. You can run a pole into the ground to support it. With dry ground, it's a bit easier to stick a tomato cage in the ground and arrange the shock over it. My husband wanted to tie the shocks to the porch columns. I resisted the idea, since they were very different sizes. You see who won that decision. The bottom of the shock should still reach the ground, unless you are going to arrange more decorations around the bottom, which we did.
Last year, we had four straw bales to display our pumpkins on. Only two remain this year; I don't know why. They provide a foundation for the pumpkins and corn shocks in front of the porch steps. This year's pumpkins are store-bought, as my pumpkin patch failed even more miserably than the corn. A few potted flowers found a new home in the fall display.
The cats liked it, too. Within the next week, I'll put up the town's largest Halloween light display, possibly visible from the ISS. But those only look good at night. The corn shocks and uncut pumpkins can stay up until the Christmas lights go up (around Thanksgiving) or when they fall apart, whichever comes first.