Gardentalk – Ripe corn and woolly bear caterpillars

Woolly bear caterpillar tries to escape its glass prison located in a North Douglas kitchen in August 2019. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)
Woolly bear caterpillar tries to escape its glass habitat located in a North Douglas kitchen in August 2019. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Master Gardener Ed Buyarski said he’s almost ready to pick his sweet corn that he’s growing this season in his garden.

“The ears are filling out when I feel them,” Buyarski said. Each of the 2-inch-diameter ears feel solid, and their silk is turning brown.

Buyarski recalled that this is probably the first time he’s tried growing corn in Juneau in over 20 years.

In this week’s edition of “Gardentalk,” he said the final test will come in about a week or so when he carefully peels back part of the husk and silk from an ear. The kernels of the bicolor corn should be yellow and white, and their juice should spurt out when the kernel’s skin is punctured.

As for winter squash, Buyarski said they’ll be ripe when you’re able to scratch a thumbnail through the outer skin, but you’re unable to scratch through into the hard inner shell.

And don’t forget to check on your potatoes. Steal a few early spuds for dinner and contemplate digging them all up soon.

Listen to the Aug. 22 edition about corn, squash, caterpillars, and the Harvest Fair:


Buyarski also answered a question about the woolly bear caterpillar, the larval form of the spotted tussock moth, that is seen around Juneau. Before they weave a cocoon, he said the non-native, orange-and-black caterpillars like to feed on raspberry plants, alder trees and apple trees. He said that’s why he tries to get rid of them when they enter his yard and garden.

He also has a caution for children and those with sensitive skin who would be affected by handling the fuzzy caterpillar and touching their white, spiky hairs.

“People might have a skin irritation or allergic-type reactions to them,” Buyarski said.

The Juneau Community Garden on Montana Creek Road is holding its annual Harvest Fair and Farmers Market on Saturday, Aug. 24. Juneau gardeners are invited to bring in their fruits, vegetables, flowers and preserves for judging before 11 a.m. Entries will be open for public display at noon.

An award winning basket from the 2015 Harvest Fair.
An award-winning basket from the 2015 Harvest Fair. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Do you have a garden question for Ed? Fill out the form below, and he’ll answer your question in an upcoming segment.

Listen to past episodes and subscribe to the podcast on the “Gardentalk” page, so you’ll never have to worry about missing Thursday’s live radio broadcasts.

Site notifications
Update notification options
Subscribe to notifications