Sunday, September 22, 2013

Our "Sweet" Corn

Up until last year (2012), it had been many years since I'd tried to grow sweet corn in our garden.  I tend to stay away from the hybridized varieties (ones developed for short growing seasons such as we have) because I want to be able to save seed for future plantings.  I need an heirloom variety for that.  The downside of this is that I have trouble getting sweet corn to mature sufficiently before Jack Frost comes along and knocks it deader than a doornail.

Then Papa Pea read somewhere about an heirloom corn from the mountains of Montana which was hailed for hardiness and . . . earliness.  Aha!  Just what we needed.  It was called Painted Mountain corn and I found it last year in Johnny's Selected Seeds catalog.   In their pages it was advertised as ornamental and dry field corn.  However, the article my hubby had come across said it could be eaten as "sweet" corn if picked at the right stage.


As I said, I planted it last year and had a wonderful crop from my sample test plot.  Although the average ears were said to grow to only 6-7" long, many of ours last year (pictured above) were bigger.  Unfortunately, we waited way too long to harvest any of it to try as eating ears.  This year, I was determined to not let that happen.  And, wahoo, I succeeded!


We've had corn to eat for about two weeks now.  The above ears were just recently harvested.  As you can see, the coloration isn't fully developed yet.  I think that will take another few weeks.  


Here's a shot of the corn right after cooking for dinner tonight.  I've got to say, it does seem strange to be eating "colored" sweet corn.  How's the flavor of it?  Although different, definitely not as sweet as the sweet corn we are all used to, we find it very tasty.  It has very much of a "corn" flavor, it's tender and we like it.  I'm guessing that before corn was hybridized to taste sweeter and sweeter, our ancestors' sweet corn probably tasted much like the Painted Mountain corn does.

We're feeling very fortunate to have gotten what we have so far from the corn this year.  It got a very slow start after being planted in our cold, cold spring and trying to grow in our cold, cold early summer.  Then we had that bad wind storm that flattened much of it.  It recovered from that (I was amazed) only to be hit by an early "rust" which has made the stalks and leaves look terrible, but according to the research I've done won't harm the harvest.  However, in searching for good sized ears to eat as sweet corn, I'm noticing that there are many (many!) stalks without a single ear on them.  Another result of our crazy weather this growing season?  And whether the corn that is out there will mature properly depends a lot on our weather in the next few weeks.

Time will tell, but overall I'm pleased as punch knowing I can grow corn for us to eat as sweet corn and, in a decent growing season, get dried corn to feed to our poultry.

22 comments:

Sunnybrook Farm said...

I am wondering if that is similar to what I have been growing as I had a lot of trouble with coons eating it when it was in that immature state, probably was sweet. Corn and everything else has become really sweet over the last 40 years, the old corn had more of a corn taste and less like corn syrup.

Katidids said...

Now I'd like to try that! We have a friend that grows corn and purchase from him every year. When we've tried it in the past it always fell over from the winds. I think I'm tempted to try it again now! Thanks for the info.

Endah Murniyati said...

So colorful corns... Wow great and wonderful! I have never seen that before. Thanks for sharing.

Tombstone Livestock said...

Next year try planting a row of yellow or white corn and pick it as baby corn. Great in stir fry or salads. Painted corn is very interesting, do you make corn meal with it too?

Stephanie said...

I wonder if I planted that instead of my normal sweet corn, it would keep the mockingbirds away. That is my problem. It looks wonderful!

Sue said...

Heck, I'd try that corn just to decorate with--it's beautiful.
I admit-I'm "spoiled" on the SWEET taste of modern hybrids. The "Bodacious" corn I grew this year was fantastic and I'll be repeating it next year. But it can't match the "pretty" of yours!!

You Can Call Me Jane said...

It's gorgeous! I can just picture an upside-down bouquet of the mature corn hanging on an outside door- beautiful! Thanks for sharing:-).

odiie said...

I love Painted Mountain corn. I put in a planting towards the end of June just to see if it would get done, and it did! So we had two crops this year. I'm letting what's left dry on the stalks for corn meal. Do you use it for corn meal? Decorating?
Your corn is gorgeous. Mine didn't get as big this year.

Susan said...

I never knew you could eat the colorful corn - it looks delicious! I do like the idea that you can multi-purpose that corn. I don't have the garden room for corn - otherwise I'd plant it in a heartbeat.

Judy T said...

I tried planting some colored corn this year. My grand scheme to do three sisters planting. Sadly, it was foiled by the $%@# chipmunks eating all but one of my kernels of corn that I had planted. I ended up having to get bamboo poles for my runner beans. But at least we were able to get corn from the farmer's market and the beans and squash did quite well.

Lisa said...

Our corn patch was an almost complete bust (again) this year, but think we're finally on a better plan for a larger corn area for better pollination. Silver Queen is THE corn to grow here and we harvested maybe 10 small ears @2" long - but they were the best of the best corn-on-the-cob we'd EVER eaten!! :) Glad you're finding a producer for your area that is also delicious. I have to say, that would be strange to be eating purple sweet corn.... but in the end it's all about the flavor, nutrition.... and the fact you grew it yourself.
PS I like the fact you never give up Mama Pea.

Mama Pea said...

Sunnybrook Farm - Yep, sorta like everything has to be bigger to be better. Corn has to be sweeter to be the most popular.

Mama Pea said...

Katidids - I'm having trouble with mine falling down now. We've had a lot of heavy rain so the ground is soft. Bring on the winds and the stalks are taking a beating.

Mama Pea said...

Endah - You're welcome!

Mama Pea said...

Tombstone Livestock - Yes, I have ground it for corn meal. The one drawback is that it comes out kinda gray looking rather than yellow because of the different colors of the kernels. It's touted as being very nutritious though!

Mama Pea said...

Stephanie - Nasty mockingbirds! I haven't had any trouble with birds going after it. But we don't have mockingbirds around here either.

Mama Pea said...

Sue - Yes, it does look just like the "Indian corn" we buy for decorating. Could hardly be more colorful. In a good year, that is. :o(

Mama Pea said...

I'll Call You Jane - You're very welcome!

Mama Pea said...

Odiie - You're far ahead of us in the maturing department. Yes and yes. We do use it for corn meal and decorating. And livestock feed. And people feed. Talk about an all-round good variety!

Mama Pea said...

Susan - No room for corn? You need more acreage. And a larger garden. And about 12 more hours in each day!

I don't think you can eat ALL varieties of colorful corn. But this one you can!

Mama Pea said...

Judy T - I think I would have had some dead chipmunks in short order!

I planted pumpkins in with one patch of my corn and I don't think I'll do it again. Too much of a jumbled mess. I can't imagine the three sisters method with adding beans in there, too.
How would you get in to pick the beans?

Mama Pea said...

Lisa - My stick-to-it-tiveness has been called by other names by some. Stubborn? Bull-headed? Inflexible? Rigidity? But I know you meant it as a complement and I thank you for it! ;o)