Last year, I tried planting a coloured corn, but the rats ate it all. This year, with some protection for my seedlings, I managed a crop of Painted Mountain. Though it’s popular for autumn decoration in the US, I’d never grown it myself.
I wasn’t certain it would produce well. The plants are shorter and faster-maturing than sweet corn, and they looked stunted. They were beautiful in the garden, though–deep burgundy-coloured stems and light green leaves. Dark red silk peeking out of the husks.
The beauty didn’t stop in the garden. My daughter and I sat on the porch yesterday evening and husked the harvest, exclaiming as each new cob was revealed. It was like Christmas, never knowing what surprise would be in the next package. The variety of colours and arrangements of colours was amazing. I’d seen all this before, in the “Indian corn” my mother decorated with each fall, but there was something magical about seeing the diversity emerge from one small crop I’d grown myself.
I have no intention of using this corn for decoration. It is beautiful, and I will enjoy it as it dries, but it is destined for more interesting uses. Painted mountain is a starch corn. Once it’s dry, I’ll grind it into cornmeal.
I have visions of beautiful, coloured corn chips, red cornbread, rosy polenta…mmm…can’t wait until it’s dry.