Our Flint corn!August 12th, 2012
Be sure to check out our video on Harvesting Flint Indian Corn.
According to Suzanne Ashworth*, in her excellent book "Seed to Seed" Flint corn seed keeps "for 5-10 years [and sometimes much longer]". I continue to highly recommend her detailed seed saving book. This figure is for seed storage in a cool dry room, not sealed in aluminized poly bags with a desiccant, which is the way we pack our collections. Flint corn seeds not only keep better than Sweet corn, once fully mature it also is a good source of protein. Sweet corn is a tasty Summer vegetable, but it does not qualify as a grain. When fully mature and dry, sweet corn kernels shrivel and the skin wrinkles. It does not make usable corn meal. Our Flint Corn kernels dry to be very hard yet remain plump and full, brimming with a nutty corn flavor.
If you want to grow protein foods in your garden, there is no better combination than mature, dry beans and corn. For complete nutrition, they should be eaten in a ratio of 4-5 times as much grain corn as dry beans. This should provide all the amino acid building blocks your body needs. Yields are roughly similar, so for every row of dry beans you plant, you would plant 4 or 5 rows of grain corn. For excellent corn pollination this crop should be planted 4 or more rows wide. For example, you can plant as little as a block of four rows each ten feet long next to each other and have perfect pollination. Here in the Americas this combination with winter squash and pumpkins has been the mainstay of Native peoples' gardens for centuries. They sometimes called it the Three Sisters. Corn, Beans, and Squash or Pumpkin.
In our modern American diet, wheat is the common grain. Grown and harvested commercially by huge equipment it is relatively inexpensive. It thrives in areas too dry for corn to grow. However, wherever corn can be grown, farmers can and do enjoy its much larger harvests and greater versatility. On a homestead garden scale, corn is much easier to grow and harvest than wheat. Flint corn also yields far more than wheat and almost every other small grain. Yes, I have grown most small grains here and I still grow some. If food was scarce, the only grain I would plant would be Flint Corn.
Once corn is established and tall enough it will shade out most weeds. It needs little care from then until it's dry and mature a couple of months later. This is perfect timing for all the other mid and late Summer garden harvests.
* Suzanne Ashworth, author of "Seed to Seed" Chelsea Green Publishing
ISBN 978-1-882424-58-1 Library of Congress Number 2002100948