Taber, you’ve been corned

Regional commentary by Jeff Burgar

I just learned I have not paid near enough attention to a simple little bit of northern Alberta gardening knowledge. According to gardening experts around me, this is a biggie.

Now, I have planted my fair share of veggies. I have sat on a stool in my garden, feasting on my pea crop.

I have shown my doggies how to dig into peas after I cracked them open, so they wouldn’t have to eat shells.

My Australian shepherd, long since gone but not forgotten, learned not to wait for me. He discovered he could crack them open himself.

I’ve enjoyed my friends’ crops. My zucchini buddy says, “I had no idea how they would do. Now I’ve got so many I have give them away. Want 30 pounds or so?”

I love saskatoon berries. But I still haven’t figured out why some years they do great, and other years not so much.

Some past years, I didn’t bother with a garden. Wife didn’t either.

So the raspberries took over! Wow!

Some years I’ve tried tricks with the slugs. Other years I just ignore them. Some years I water too much. Other years, I let Mother Nature do her thing.

I’ve been into raised garden beds for a few years now. Actually, they are pretty handy for my old bones. And even young bones I have seen.

But never, in all my years, have I ever given much thought to corn.

Well, I asked Lyndon Drefs at the EC Bar Ranch if he uses any kind of special corn when growing his popular corn maze. I can’t remember what he told me. The late Dennis Barton once told me it was hard to grow corn around his town of Slave Lake. “Too short a growing season,” he said.

In those years, I never for a moment thought there were more than four kinds of corn. The first kind was the stuff I grew in my backyard garden. Second kind was corn I bought at the grocery. Third came from the Farmers’ Market. Fourth was the El Supremo of Corn. The King or Queen of the Cob so to speak.

If you know a bit about corn, (and apparently, know as little as I knew until a few weeks ago) then you know I am talking about, drum roll please, Taber Corn!

Well, Taber Corn apparently was untasseled and dehusked long ago by a better kid on the block. I’m talking, of course, about Watino-Culp Peaches and Cream Corn.

Aficionados (that’s a big word for people who know their stuff) swear Watino corn is the best there is. Forget that Taber junk, they tell me.

Unfortunately, for we minions such as I who have never had the pleasure of Watino Corn, the ‘best before’ date is around the last week of August. So better luck next year.

Which brings up an interesting tidbit. The Taber police chief happened to put his local Taber corn in a blind taste test against, not Watino corn, but Cornwall, Ontario corn. Which also claims great corn.

Perhaps, it can be said, there are now five kinds of corn. My backyard stuff, which will never win a prize. Grocery store, the same. Farmers’s market. Cornwall. Watino. Because in the blind test, Cornwall corn kicked Taber’s butt.

Locally, it’s still Watino all the way.

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