Corn Cob to start seedlings?

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by Pony, Nov 17, 2004.

  1. Pony

    Pony Well-Known Member Supporter

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    DH found an OLD book under a cabinet in the garage: Popular Mechanics What to Make and How to Make It, volume 10, 1949. The lower 5th or so of the book has soaked up oil (the oil DH was cleaning up from ... never mind ;) ).

    ANYway, the books is still readable. One of its many VERY cool suggestions is to cut up corn cobs into little blocks, and use them for starting seedlings, and when the seedlings are ready for transplant, just stick 'em right in the garden, cob and all. (Sort of a rustic Jiffy pot...)

    We have a more than ample supply of corn cobs at this point, and I think I want to give it a try. I was just wondering if anyone else has heard of or done this.

    Thanks! :)
     
  2. jkillen

    jkillen Well-Known Member

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    When I throw cobs in the compost pile they shoot up like crazy.
    I've always thought about putting one in the ground. If you try it let me
    know how it goes.
     

  3. stormwalker

    stormwalker Well-Known Member

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    That's very interesting! It would never have occurred to me to use them because corn gluten meal is used as a germination suppressor.
     
  4. Pony

    Pony Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Well, the book did say to use dry corn cobs -- maybe the gluten breaks down?

    I'll let you know if/when I try it come January/February when I start my seeds.

    That's one of the cool things about gardening: experiments!
     
  5. Pony

    Pony Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Oh! And it's just the cob, not the kernal, which holds the meal?
     
  6. Jan in CO

    Jan in CO Well-Known Member Supporter

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    More info, please Pony? Do you drill holes in the center for the seeds, or what? I have about a dozen boxes of dry cobs from the fair, where they were having a demo on how to shell corn the old fashioned way. Did the article suggest how big to make the blocks of cob? Thanks, Jan in Co
     
  7. stormwalker

    stormwalker Well-Known Member

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    Pony,
    I'm going to try growing something right now. It's too good an idea. Google wouldn't give me anything, so I'll experiment, like you said.
    If it works, it going to cut my costs significantly.
    I'll let you know what happens.
    Thanks for telling us.
     
  8. Pony

    Pony Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Here ya go! Just shook out all the baking soda we'd put in the book to soak up the mold and oil -- messy! But following is all that it says in the book:

    Corncob "Pots" Start Plants
    Small "pots" for starting plants without soil may be made form sections of dried corncobs. The seed is embedded in the center of the cob and moisture is supplied by setting the cob in a shallow bowl or dish of water. If desired, suitable chemicals can be added to the water to stimulate growth. The improvised pots are transplanted in the garden, just as they are.



    What to Make and How to Make It, volume 10; Popular Mechanics Press, 1949


    The picture shows a cob on a plate, sliced into a cylinder, probably about 2 or 3 inches high.

    I'm thinking I'm going to give it a try with some herb seeds. Or maybe I should start with a bean -- they'll grow anywhere!
     
  9. Paquebot2

    Paquebot2 Guest

    I've got more books on gardening than I can possibly read and never heard of using corncobs as seed starting pots. I too went deep into Google with no mention of that idea. A flaw in the idea is that cobs take a very long time to break down, even in a hot compost pile. After a year, if I want to screen compost for planting soil mix, only wood and cobs are left. When ground cobs are used as a temporary soil amendment, they are great since they last nearly the entire season. The idea might be good for something with a thin stem. If it were a plant like a large tomato variety, it would prevent growth of the stem at that point and restrict water flow from the roots to the foliage. It sounds like it was only an idea but not a practical one.

    Martin
     
  10. stormwalker

    stormwalker Well-Known Member

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    Well, I guess I'll try a tomato seed, along with lettuce and radish. I've got my cobs soaking. So- We shall see!
     
  11. Pony

    Pony Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Yeah, I'm gonna give 'er a shot, too. I've been noodling around the light shelves (DH built me a sweet little mini-greenhouse set up for my birthday last year), and I'll start with rosemary and lavender (they take forever to germinate anyway), a tomato, and lettuce. I wonder about that radish, Stormwalker -- it may turn out to be the skinniest radish in history! You could wind up in Believe it or Not! <G>

    I was just thinking that sometimes the Jiffy pots don't always break down, either. What I do when I transplant those is make sure the pot is good and soaked, then kind of rip a couple of the sides of the pot downward. That way, the roots have room to grow.

    I am so glad I'm able to play in the dirt almost all year now. With those grow lights, maybe the winter won't seem so darned crummy. I HATE being cold!!!
     
  12. stormwalker

    stormwalker Well-Known Member

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    I'm just using the radish because I've never had one fail to germinate! I scraped holes in some which I'll fill with starting mix. I believe Paquebot2 about the durabilty. That inner ring is tough!
    I think you're right, Pony- These experiments will help us get through the winter!
     
  13. DayBird

    DayBird Big Bird

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    I have more ideas than I have time to test them. Allow me to pass this one on to someone with a greenhouse and a few less animals, please.

    Do a controlled experiment. Use bean seeds with the old standby Jiffy Pot as the control group. Then plant the bean seeds in the corncobs and continue with empty eggshells and scooped out lemon peels. When the seedlings are all two weeks old, transplant them into growing trays. Everyone on the same lighting schedule and water and fertilizer. Test to see if the been seeds can grow out of the corncob, eggshell and lemon peel. Measure the plants weekly and record the heights for each. Don't forget the control group in the Jiffy Pots. Use beans or maybe lettuce. Radish seeds would be ready to harvest much too soon for the corncob to break down.

    We can hypothesis that the Jiffy Pots and lemon peels would provide the quickest results with the eggshells next. The corncob would probably come in last. Let us know if you give it a try...
     
  14. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Here is an interesting idea....what if the seed were put on the rough outer area of the cob? The cob would be less tough, the roots might grow more on the outside. When planted, the roots might have an easier time spreading out, because they don't have the entire cob to grow through.

    Perhaps I can score some cobs.......
     
  15. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    I broka a corncob into 4 pieces and there are now flower seeds pressed into it.

    I was surprised to see that the interior of the cob was soft and pithy. Perhaps that is how the roots grow through it? I guess I never looked that closely at the inside of a corn cob before.

    I will let you know next weekhow it is doing.
     
  16. Pony

    Pony Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I completely forgot to ask DH to bring a bunch of corn cobs back when he returned from hunting! Argh!

    Oh, well, I will phone FIL (he's still up there) and ask him to bring a sack of them home so I can also start experimenting.

    What a long, strange week it has been... :rolleyes:
     
  17. stormwalker

    stormwalker Well-Known Member

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    Not one sign of life. Not even a radish.