What is corn really?

Summer is synonymous with fresh corn. There are literally hundreds of different corn varieties out there, but most green grocers only stock one variety. Nothing new there.

We have been experimenting with a huge variety of different corns over the last few years and have discovered some amazing facts that we would like to share with you. Our favourite corn so far is the Sweet Anasazi Corn. It is beautiful to look at and very tasty too. Here is a pic of some our our last harvest.

Here are some corn facts for you…

Corn is a grass!?!?

Yep, corn is a grass, much like Sugar Cane. It only germinates when the soil is warm enough but does not need a lot of water to grow like most veggies. It does best when there is sufficient moisture to keep the soil friable (easily broken up).

Growing Corn

Corn seeds germinate very quickly under the right conditions. Usually within 7 days there are two little leaves emerging from the soil.

When you plant corn into the garden, don’t plant it in rows but rather as a close set group. This is because corn is wind pollinated and the closer together the plants are, the better the pollination is.

When the tassels first emerge from the top of the corn stalks, this is the time to ensure that the corn plants get extra water, right up to harvest time. The tassels at the top of the plant are the pollen … essentially the male reproductive part of the corn. Along the stem of the corn plant is where the silk will emerge, these are the female parts of the corn. The pollen needs to reach each of the silk strands. Each strand is essentially connected to a single corn kernel.

Different types of corn

Most people only know of sweet corn and popcorn, but there are many other different kinds of corn; Maize, Super Sweet Corn, Sweet Corn, Popcorn, Dent and Flint Corn.

Maize is the parent name of all edible corn types. It’s like saying “Citrus” if we were talking about lemons and oranges.

Super sweet corn is a hybrid corn produced specifically for the fresh food market. This is the corn you find in stores today. They are an F1 hybrid, meaning that the seeds produced from these varieties will not grow to be like the parent. Large seeds corporations do this on purpose so that farmers cannot save seed from their crop each year and are forced to buy seed every year to regrown their crops.

Sweet corn is not as sweet as super sweet corn but has much more flavour and is more filling to boot. These are the corns that your grandparents would have been used to and there are hundreds of types. Our favourites are the Sweet Anasazi Corn (multicoloured) and the Balinese Bantam (yellow)

Popcorn is exactly what it sounds like … popcorn grows on a cob like normal corn but it can come in blue, black, pink red, yellow and white kernels. When popped though, it still results in a white fluffy cloud of goodness though.

Dent and Flint corn are types of corn used to make flour. Dent corn has a hard outer coating where as Dent has an indentation at the top of the kernel.

Pests and Diseases

Like most grasses, they thrive in warm and humid environments and luckily don’t have too many pests and diseases. A few caterpillars here and there are the most annoying. So a regular sprinkling of Derris Dust or similar is necessary to ensure you get plenty of corn to eat at harvest … I personally don’t like sharing much of my hard work with insects.

🙂

 

If you want to try to grow some Sweet Anasazi corn, we have plenty of seeds left over from last season. Here is a link to them… https://littlefieldmice.com.au/products/sweet-anasazi-corn-seeds

 

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