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.

Eggplant Parmigiana

It is quite a challenge for me to eat and enjoy bitter melons and eggplants. I guess it does take time for some to appreciate these vegetables. Maybe in a few months (or years), I might start to like them. :P

Interestingly, a couple close to our family (Thank you, tito Albert and tita Rosiel Noel) recently gave us a huge plastic filled with asian eggplants and okras from Palawan. As soon as I saw the bag, I immediately felt the urge to cook the eggplants first. I didn’t know why. Hahaha.

And so, I gathered some of my favorite ingredients and prepared this dish: Eggplant Parmigiana.

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Because I wanted to know more about the main ingredient before cooking the dish, I did a little research on the internet. After a few minutes, I learned from Alton Brown (Host of the show: “Good Eats”. Episode: Berry From Another Planet) that purging the eggplants help remove the bitterness and moisture from the eggplant, which allows them to absorb the liquid in the dish more.

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I purged the sliced eggplants by salting them and letting them rest for a few minutes. When the eggplants started to ‘sweat’, I used a tissue to remove the moisture from them.

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After that, I prepared the tomato sauce and fried the breaded eggplants with a tablespoon of oil.

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Layering the eggplant parmigiana was fun and easy! I added the ff. ingredients to the bowl and repeated the process twice. :)

Tomato sauce > a few shrimps > Sliced Mozzarella cheese > Cooked eggplants

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Finally, it was time for us to taste the eggplant dish. I remember slightly cringing while I was getting my share because I didn’t really like eating eggplants. Haha. But, by God’s grace, He continues to change me for the better and help my taste buds cooperate and appreciate more food. Woohoo!

Also, by His grace, my family and officemates got to taste the dish and enjoyed it too! My dad even sent me a text message the next day: “Your eggplant dish is soooo good, anak! I just had a wonderful breakfast… Thanks!!!” Hahaha. Thanks for the encouragement, dad!

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It was a helpful experience for me because God encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and try new things with Him. Even though the eggplant wasn’t (and still isn’t… haha!) my favorite vegetable, He still used it to speak to me and remind me of important principles in life.

Purging the eggplants reminded me of how God’s Word works in our hearts. The salt helped remove the bitterness (found in the moisture) in the eggplants which made them absorb the flavor of the oil and the tomato sauce more. In the same way, God uses the Bible to help us see and remove the unnecessary and unpleasant things that we keep in our hearts, so that we can absorb who He is and the promises and truth that He has for us, and grow into the person that He desires us to be.

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It says in Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

Looking forward to learning more about God through His word this week! Hope this encourages you to do so too. :)

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time.

 

RECIPE for Eggplant Parmigiana

Estimated ingredients:

8 Asian eggplants

4 cloves of garlic (crushed or diced)

Half an onion (white, chopped)

2 tbsp. oil (1 tbsp. for sauteing sautéing the shrimp; the other for the breaded eggplants)

1 cup of Japanese bread crumbs. (Feel free to use other kinds of breading. We only had the Japanese crumbs at that time.)

4-5 cups (1000g) of crushed tomatoes (in a can). I used the brand: Doña Elena.

McCormick’s Italian seasoning and/or fresh herbs (basil, rosemary, and oregano)

Salt and pepper (to taste)

Mozzarella and Parmesean cheese

Optional: 1/3 kilo of your choice of meat (I used some of the shrimps that we had in the freezer).

 

Notes:

1. After cooking the tomato sauce and layering the ingredients, you may heat the dish in the oven or in the microwave. The melted mozzarella cheese is perfect for this dish. :)

2. You may also enjoy this dish with sliced plain baguettes.