Growing Sweet Corn at Home

The first thought that entered my mind when I had the idea of growing corn at home was: “Nicole, you have got to be crazy.” Hahaha. Even some of my friends told me that it was a funny and crazy thing to do. Maybe I WAS crazy because sweet corn is usually grown in fields, not in verandas at home. But, by faith, I still planted seeds of corn and attempted to grow them in the city.

sweet corn
sweet corn

For the first month and a half, everything was going “according to plan”. The seedlings were growing beautifully, the corn plants grew taller each week, and there were no bugs or pests around them. It was also during this time that my first two corn plants produced ears of corn. Compared to my other fruit-bearing plants, this type of plant grew really fast. In fact, after I got back home from an out-of-town, weekend trip, my family told me that the ears of corn grew strands of silk hair. I didn’t expect the plants to grow fast, but they did!

sweet corn silk hair
sweet corn silk hair
pollen from tassels
pollen from tassels

After reading numerous websites on growing corn, I found out that, ideally, corn stalks should be grown in a relatively large area since the more corn stalks there are in an area, the better the cross-pollination will be (which would result to producing kernels in the corn). I also learned that each silk hair is connected to a potential kernel and it must be properly pollinated in order for the kernel to grow. Since I live in the city and we only have a limited space to grow plants, my plants couldn’t cross-pollinate, so I needed to pollinate them by hand. I had faith that God can make them grow in our veranda, but honestly, there were times when I would worry about it. Nonetheless, I continued to water and pollinate them everyday.

hand-pollination on sweet corn plants
hand-pollination on sweet corn plants

Unfortunately, while I was pollinating the corn plants one day, I made a mistake by covering the tassels too long which resulted to the tassels being wet and useless. I wanted to cover the tassels with a plastic bag so that I could collect more pollen overnight instead of manually shaking them off. However, as a result of my carelessness, the bag got moist and the tassels were drenched. They couldn’t produce pollen anymore which meant that my ears of corn would most probably grow without kernels.

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You could just imagine how devastated I was. I spent the past two months watering the plants twice a day and I did my best to take care of them. But, I couldn’t undo my carelessness, I couldn’t force my plants to produce pollen again. I felt so discouraged and annoyed at myself. But, by God’s grace, I still had a third corn plant growing beside the other two corn plants. Thankfully, this third plant was a late bloomer. It only developed its tassels and ear when the other two corn plants’ ears were already big. As I looked at the third plant, I noticed that its tassels were generously producing pollen. I then thought of transferring the pollen from that plant to the other two plants. However, I also knew that if I use up the limited pollens of the third plant, there won’t be pollens left for that plant’s ears.

sweet corn
sweet corn

I had to make a decision fast because I only had a number of days because the ears of corn reach their full growth. After praying and thinking about it, I decided to sacrifice the life of the ear of corn in the third plant and I used its pollens to help grow kernels in the first two plants. After five days, the third plant’s tassels stopped producing pollen and the tedious hand-pollination process was finally over. All I had to do was to continue watering the plant and hope that the pollens in them would help grow kernels.

sweet corn
sweet corn

About a week later, I checked the plants to see if they were ready for harvest. To know if the corn is ready for harvest, you have to check these three things: 1.) The silk hair must be dry and brown. 2.) The ear must be plump. 3.) When you poke a kernel found at the top of the ear, it must squirt out a milky liquid, not a clear one. By God’s grace, both ears of corn passed the test! After two and a half months, they were ready for harvest!

sweet corn
sweet corn
sweet corn
sweet corn

I couldn’t believe it was finally happening. I felt hopeful and nervous at the same time because it was my first time to grow corn. With a grateful heart, I harvested two ears of corn last May 22 and thanked God for the awesome privilege of growing corn at home. I slowly peeled the layers of leaves and strands of silk hair away from the cobs of corn and I saw beautiful, yellow kernels. Man, that moment was priceless. Although one of the ears of corn had only 85% of its kernels and the other ear only had 95%, it was still such a delight to see them grow. Suddenly, impossible things didn’t seem so impossible after all.

sweet corn
sweet corn
sweet corn
sweet corn

While I was enjoying the moment, I saw the third corn plant in the veranda. I then remembered that because of my mistake, the third plant needed to give up the life of its ear in order for the ears of the first two plants to grow. I shared this to my mom that morning and she told me that it reminded her of Jesus’ sacrifice. It all made sense. When I made a mistake a few weeks ago by leaving the plastic bags on the tassels too long, I couldn’t understand why God allowed it to happen. It was so discouraging to make a costly mistake during the most crucial period of the corn plants’ growth. But, now I know that He had a purpose for it. He wanted me to remember the sacrifice that He did thousands of years ago when He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross and to rise again just so we could have eternal life with Him in Heaven.

sweet corn
sweet corn
sweet corn
sweet corn

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” –John 3:16

I made a mistake while I was gardening and I definitely couldn’t reverse what I’ve done or save the plants on my own strength. But, God, in His perfect timing, provided a way for me to still pollinate the plants and enjoy its fruit. In the same way, God constantly reminds me that He already made a way for us through Jesus. Because of Him, I know that I have been redeemed from my past wrongdoings; I have been set free from the slavery of sin, and I have been given the privilege of drawing closer to God each day — until eternity.

sweet corn
sweet corn
sweet corn
sweet corn
sweet corn
sweet corn

Some say that it is crazy and impossible to grow corn in the city. Some say that it is hopeless and impossible for messed up lives and broken hearts to be restored and renewed. But, I am reminded that we can put our hope and trust in Jesus and what He says in His word: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

Are there seemingly impossible situations in your life right now? I encourage you to lift them up to God, to do your part, and to relax as you witness Him work in ways that we can never imagine.

sweet corn
sweet corn
sweet corn
sweet corn

 “There is strength knowing I belong to the One who’s making all things possible. My God is strong and mighty. My God is faithful. My hope is in the Lord for He is able.” –Mark Schultz

sweet corn
sweet corn
sweet corn
sweet corn
sweet corn
sweet corn

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time.

Your Mistakes Do Not Define You

“Aaagghh! No, no, no, no, no, no, nooooooooo! Man!”

I shouted and panicked as I stared at the melted piece of fabric on the hot iron while I was ironing my top this morning. After five years of using and taking good care of my favorite pink top, I accidentally burnt a part of its delicate fabric which created a hole in front of it. I couldn’t believe it! Suddenly, I had flashbacks of the times when I used it and I remembered how much I loved its femininity and beauty.

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In the recent years, by God’s grace, I challenged myself to shop less and less. Because of this, I rarely buy clothes and shoes so I could save a bit more. So, I really, really do my best to maintain what I have in the closet. However, what happened this morning gave me a mini heartbreak. I felt so annoyed with myself for being so careless. I looked at the hole in my top and thought to myself “I can’t take back time. I can’t undo what I’ve done. And I don’t even know if it’s still possible to repair my top. Ughh!! This is so, so sad.”

After taking a bath, I sat in front of the fan and I silently poured my dampened heart out to God. I felt that the pretty top with a hole in front of it wasn’t usable anymore. I couldn’t even imagine stitching a patch with a similar fabric on it because it would look weird. I just felt like I ruined its beauty and I could never bring it back to its original, lovely state.

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But, as I was trying to cool myself down in front of the fan, my mom (who was near our room), noticed and mentioned that the hole wasn’t exactly in the middle of the top. By God’s grace, it was located at the side part, which wasn’t too obvious. True enough, when I tried to wear it again, it didn’t look that bad – unless, of course, I raise my arms to the side. Haha. Somehow, in spite of my carelessness, God still showed His grace to me by allowing me to burn a hole only at the side part of my favorite pink top. I wish that it didn’t have to happen, but it did and I know that God used it to get my attention and teach me something important.

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While I was on my way to work, I still thought about my burnt top and I asked God why He allowed it to happen. He then reminded me of one of City Harbor’s songs where it says: “I am not my failure. I am not my flaws. I am not defined by my mistakes, only by Your love. It’s a constant battle to believe what’s true, that Your love is unconditional no matter what I do.” As I started to sing the lyrics of the song in my head, my heart began to melt because I knew that He was encouraging me to focus on His goodness, love, and grace in spite of my carelessness and regrets this morning.

“I constantly trust in the LORD; because he is at my right hand, I will not be moved.” -Psalm 16:8

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Yes, my favorite pink top will never be as good as its original state, but I can still thank God because at least, the iron didn’t burn the whole garment… nor my hands/our place.

Yes, I loved the pretty, flawless piece of clothing because I felt good, girly, breezy, and comfortable whenever I wore it. But, I am also reminded that it is still just a piece of clothing and it will not define my beauty or value.

And yes, I made a mistake today and I will obviously make more in the future. But, I am encouraged to constantly put my trust and security in the One who never will. :)

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time.

Making Fresh Pasta at Home

“This is so cool!” I remember saying this to my eldest sister while I was rolling the pasta dough through the machine. Making pasta from scratch has always been a fun and interesting experience for me even though it requires more effort compared to boiling raw, store-bought noodles. So, when I recently craved for pasta, I decided to hang out with my pasta machine again.

homemade fresh pasta
homemade fresh pasta
fresh pasta
fresh pasta
fresh pasta
fresh pasta

While I was combining the flour and eggs, I already imagined the long streaks of pasta dough smoothly making their way out of the machine. However, after cutting the first two pieces of dough, my sister and I noticed that parts of the dough got stuck in the machine. It created a mess because they were stuck in between the rollers and we had to poke and push them out using a pointed knife/chopstick. Also, it was very crucial for us to thoroughly clean the pasta machine because if we left parts of the pasta dough on it and they dried up overnight, the hardened dough may eventually cause damage to the machine when we try to use it again.

fresh pasta dough
fresh pasta
fresh pasta
fresh pasta

 

During that time, I was already starting to change my mind about cooking homemade pasta because I was afraid that I would end up wasting ingredients, my time, and effort. But somehow, with the help of my sister, we continued to remove the bits that got stuck, sprinkled more flour on the rollers and dough, and proceeded with the next pieces of pasta dough. After rolling each piece of dough, I made sure to sprinkle enough flour on the machine to help roll the dough more smoothly and it worked! By God’s grace, I was able to finish rolling and cutting the pasta dough and I boiled the noodles in time for dinner.

fresh pasta dough
fresh pasta dough
fresh pasta dough
fresh pasta dough

Making pasta from scratch reminded me of a struggle that I face every now and then. I noticed how I was easily discouraged when things didn’t go the way I expected them to. When I made a mistake of not putting enough flour on the roller, it became such a hassle for me to clean up my mess and to start over again. In the same way, I realized that whenever I focus on my weaknesses, my past failures, and the things that I’ve done wrong, I allow these things to rob me of the joy and hope that I have in God.

fresh pasta dough
fresh pasta dough

Lamentations 3:21-23 says “I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.”

As mentioned in the verse above, we have hope in God knowing that his mercies are new every morning. Even if we fall or lose sight of Him every now and then, He is able to strengthen us and help us get back up again.

“We lose our way, we get back up again. It’s never too late to get back up again.
You may be knocked down but not out forever.”

-TobyMac

fresh pasta dough
fresh pasta dough
fresh pasta dough
fresh pasta dough
fresh pasta with cherry tomatoes and basil
fresh pasta with cherry tomatoes and basil
fresh pasta with cherry tomatoes and basil
fresh pasta with cherry tomatoes and basil

 

Pasta Dough = 2 cups of flour and 3 eggs.

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)