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.