In most areas it’s too late to plant Indian corn but you may want to add this crop to your garden areas next year. Indian corn has been a favorite crop of mine to plant because of its used and its beauty.
Indian corn, also called “Flint” corn, comes in many different colors. It is used primarily for ornamental purposes. But a few varieties are edible and some people buy Indian corn to grind up as flour. Popcorn is also another popular Indian corn variety that is both edible and decorative.
There are many different varieties to choose from. Garden catalogs or the Internet will help you in choosing a variety and colors available.
How to grow Indian corn
It’s best to start growing Indian corn by choosing one variety. Later you may want to grow several varieties.
Buy blue Indian corn if you want to grind up the corn to make blue flour tortillas. Strawberry Indian corn for popcorn is perfect for ornamental uses and grows to two to three inches. Miniature Indian corn is also great for drafting with and will grow to about six inches.
You will need to start Indian corn as early as possible. Indian corn requires a long growing season of at least three months. The corn needs to mature before the first autumn frosts hit your growing zone.
Plant Indian corn at least 100 feet from other types of corn. If you plant several different varieties of corn in the same area, cross-pollination may occur and you might not get the type of corn you planted. I grow several kinds of Indian corn and place them by the barn, garage or row of tress to make sure cross-pollination does not occur.
Grow at least 5 rows of corn. The more rows of Indian corn you grow, the more likely they will pollinate. The rows can even be short, but you need a block of corn to get a better pollination. Corn is wind pollinated, but the closer and you plant corn the better the pollination. And better pollination means a full ear of corn.
Keep the Indian corn well watered during hot summer months. Corn uses a high amount of water for ear production. You may find that using mulch will help retain water in the soil and lead to less watering.
It’s time to harvest the crop after the hair on the corn turns brown. Pull back the husk of the ear of corn slightly and check to see if the corn kernels are formed and full.
Indian corn kernels will likely be all different colors (unless you get a specialty color like blue or red). The kernels should also be firm to the touch and dry. Gently pull down on the “ripe” ear and pop it off the stalk. Hang up the corn for a few days in a warm place to dry. Then it’s ready to use.
When you dry the corn make sure to hang it high so that raccoons or other animals will not be able to reach it.
What I like about Indian corn is you never know what the crop will look like until you peel back the husks. Each ear is like an art piece, colorful and unique.
In a few days there will be an article on making a cornhusk wreath. These wreaths will last for years and add color to your backyard, garden areas and even indoor holiday flair.