I confess, I’m a little sad to see how underdeveloped my corn is within its husks. The cobs are slightly flaccid; the kernels are tiny and pale.
Corn is a notoriously hungry crop that sucks an abundance of nitrogen and minerals from the soil. I think the previously neglected dirt out back didn’t have enough organic matter to support a full, healthy corn harvest this year. Now that the ground is tilled, a year’s worth of plants have put down roots, the surface is mulched over with vines and stems and leaves—now that I’ve got a compost pile and worm bin breaking down the yard’s fallen leaves and kitchen scraps into rich humus to spread in the garden come spring—we’re well on our way to amending that dirt into a richer, healthier soil for next season.
Still, just look at that shiny silk. The corn plants grew beautifully with what they had and followed their natural pattern to produce seeds. Each tiny kernel put out a soft, slender fiber; together, those fibers slid up and out into the world as the ear’s tassel, dangling and reaching over the weeks for whatever pollen its neighbors released. Well done, little corn.