Every year I grow Indian corn, also called decorative or flint corn. A starchy variety, Indian corn is not for eating fresh. It can be dried and used to decorate, or can be ground into corn meal or popped. The colorful kernels make very interesting popcorn. Sometimes I will place an ear of corn in the microwave and the kernels will pop right on the ear. Popped corn on the cob!
The corn harvest is nearly over, only a few late ears still ripening. The ears are ready to cut from the stalks when the husks turn dry and papery. Decorative corn comes in many colors. The basic shades are white, blue, red and yellow. Many color combinations form as the plants cross-pollinate. Amazing mixes of colors and the beautiful effects of sunbursts on a cob make opening each ear like a treasure hunt.
This corn takes at least 100 days to mature and must be planted by late May. The stalks are either green or red. Deep burgundy red corn ripens first, blue corn is last to be ready. Corn should be planted in blocks of rows for adequate pollination. The stalks grow to 8 or 9 feet tall and are susceptible to heavy winds. To encourage root formation and help stabilize the plants, during the early summer when the corn is about 3 feet tall, I hoe along each row to form a mound around the base of the plants. The corn will grow a second series of roots in this mound and will be able to withstand near hurricane force gales.
At harvest time, I remove the ears, open them and allow them to air dry for several days. The stalks I gather into bunches with baling twine and use to decorate around my house. I leave some of the smaller ears of corn on the plants for the chipmunks and squirrels to enjoy.