Last year on the Veg Course we grew a fantastic crop of sweetcorn only to watch the rats climb up the stalks and eat it all. We didn't get any and we did have a lot of rats at that point so this year we have taken evasive action. Sweetcorn is the type of crop that must be picked and cooked as soon as possible to get the best flavour. As soon as the corn is picked the sugars start to turn to starch and the taste changes, becoming less sweet and more like the ones you get in Tescos. Read on to see what we are trying out.

There are two critters that will take the corn if they can: badgers and rats. You can tell which has had a go because badgers knock the stalks over, take the cobs off the plant, chew them and then chuck them away. Once they have finished, it looks like humans have rolled in your corn and thrown it all over the place - just like vandals really.  Rats will climb up the stalks and then chomp on the cobs so the stems stay upright but the cobs are eaten. Both are really irritating.

To prevent badgers, a physical barrier around the corn often helps. On the plots you will see sheets of plastic, netting and wire cages built around the crop and these will go someway to preventing badgers.

Dawn Witkiss found something online that suggested milk bottles or socks put over the cobs will protect them so we are trying both. For the millk bottles you will need the larger bottles  and you need to make a slit from the opening half way down the bottle to slip it over the cob.

We decided to wait until the tassels just start to turn brown but before the rats have begun to nibble. We are hoping that the cobs can still ripen even though they are under plastic.

Socks can just be slipped over the cob without any preparation - yes we did have the conversation about washed or unwashed! I am a bit worried with this method that the rats will just nibble their way through the socks to get to the corn.

We'll keep you posted about whether we get any corn or not this year.