Knee High By The Fourth of July

I don't know where the saying "knee high by the fourth of July" came from in regards to corn, but I'd be worried if we arrived at this point of summer and my corn was still just knee high.

But no worries here! My new-to-me corn variety, 'Spring Treat' is way taller than "knee high" and is tasseling now.

I think the whole crop will net me about three ears of corn, based on seeing where there are silks now.

The big question, of course, is if there is enough corn here to ensure good pollination to get ears to form. I hope so! I planted the whole packet of seeds, which was enough for two four-foot long rows, and it has been windy this past week, so that should help, since corn is wind pollinated.

Some gardeners might do a quick ROI analysis on this crop and wonder if it is worth it for three ears of corn. Well, yes, it is worth it to me, to enjoy the sweetest sweet corn I can find. Plus these seeds were sent to me free from Botanical Interests, so my only investment is the space they are taking in the garden and a little bit of time to sow the seeds.

According to the information on the seed packet, this corn should be ready two weeks before most other sweet corn. Last summer, I picked sweet corn on August 9th, so based on that, I should hopefully be picking this corn in a few more weeks. I'll need to be watchful, though, because last summer the raccoons found my corn on August 11th, and that was the end of it for me.

Corn is a member of the Gramineae Poaceae plant family. (I can't believe they changed the name of this plant family since I first learned about it decades ago. Those botanists, it seems, like to change things up a bit.) Anyway, the Poaceae family includes not only corn (Zea mays), but also rice, oats, sorghum, sugarcane, wheat, and rye. What would our diets be like without this plant family?

Bamboo is also in this family. Please don't plant bamboo in your garden unless you get the clumping kind. Don't convince yourself you can control it. You can't! And if you don't heed my warning, don't whine about your bamboo troubles to me!

And of course, turf grasses are in the Poaceae family. I guess that means that the most prevalent plant family in my garden is Poaceae. That's probably always going to be the case, but I did give a big boost to the Liliaceae family today by buying some daylilies (Hemerocallis) at the local daylily farm. More on that in a later post...

In the meantime, have a safe, happy, fun-filled Fourth of July, and be careful with those fireworks, especially if you have a lot of Poa sp. (bluegrass) that is starting to get dry due to lack of rain.


  1. Its worth every little bit of it... I grew 6 sweetcorns recently, more than enough for the household, and the best part is, the first grandchild 3 year old girl loves every bite!.... Such a pleasure to see them grow and change every now and then.

    Good Luck,
    ~ bangchik

  2. I will be curious to see how it goes for you and your corn. I am tempted to try it next year. good luck and I hope it is delicious. Happy 4th of July!

  3. The silk is sure a pretty color! I hope you enjoy your corn and have a great 4th!

  4. I hope you get your corn before the racoons. They will remember where the sweetest corn is grown.

    Happy 4th to you too.

  5. Knee high by the 4th of July... I always loved that saying too. But I have also noticed how inappropriate it is anymore. Corn grows so fast now perhaps there will soon be time for 2 plantings per summer?

    Happy 4th Carol!!

  6. The corn always tastes sweeter when its free, Carol.

    Set up a trap with a piece of bacon in it for that bandit. That's what I did when he trashed my fish pond last year. Raccoons love bacon with their corn :-)

    Happy 4th.

  7. We always wonder about that expression too. Here in central Ohio, the corn is way past knee-high. It's more like five or six feet! But since are from Michigan originally, we wondered if perhaps it was a more true expression there. We didn't live in the midst of farm country there, so I just don't know. Here, we are surrounded by the stuff. But I'll let the farmers grow it, then stop by to buy some! You enjoy your three ears.

  8. I think the expression must come from Wisconsin, because here knee-high is a fine goal to aspire to for corn. I'll have to make note when I drive past one of the oodles of corn fields out here just where it's at this year, but many years it's not even close!

  9. My grandpa and Dad used to always have this saying, but about their field corn. But it's been a long time since "knee-high by the Fourth of July" meant you were having a good crop. I think modern hybrids have changed all that. Next to tomatoes, my favorite veggie from the garden is fresh sweet corn--yes, it's worth only three ears a plant!

    Hope you are getting some of this rain, too; happy Fourth of July to you, too, Carol!

  10. I grew sweetcorn once, but it was out at a rented farm plot, so I wasn't able to have the water already on the boil when I went to pick it. I hope you can thwart those tricksy raccoons.

  11. Sweet corn is definitely worth the effort! My mamma used to say that you don't go out and pick the corn before the water to cook it in is boiling, otherwise it isn't fresh enough. That might be a little excessive. . .

    When I had a tiny corn patch I read that you can pick the tassles into a paper bag, shake it really good and then go around and sprinkle the pollen right on the silk, thereby avoiding having to rely on the somewhat unreliable wind. That actually works pretty well, but I also found that it works to skip the bag part and pick the tassels and sort of tap them gently with your hand as you wave the around the silks.

    You have a happy Fourth too.

  12. Wait a minute. You have 2 4ft rows of corn, but only 3 ears total? That means some stalks didn't even make one ear? That doesn't seem right to me. Is it that way with all your varieties, ones from previous years? Our corn is generally only knee high at the fourth of July, but we have at least one ear on every stalk, and often two and sometimes three.


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