What is Glass Gem Corn?
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Glass gem corn is a multi-colored variety of corn that catches a lot of attention, and for good reason! It’s rainbow look is stunning to the eyes and what’s fun is that each cob of corn is different from the last. It is like Christmas when you get to finally see what’s inside after a long season watching them grow. Unlike sweet corn, this is what’s called a flint variety. That means it is not as soft as many yellow, sweet ones. It’s much harder and tough, therefore not best for eating off the cob.
This heirloom has its own story of how it came to be. An Oklahoma farmer named Carl Barnes had a special talent for corn breeding and was able to come up with these beauties through his efforts. He used heirloom native American seeds to create these vibrant colors. Glass gem corn is truly one of a kind.
Where Can I Buy or Get Glass Gem Corn Seeds?
It used to be harder to get your hands on the seeds for this corn. More recently they’ve gained in popularity and you can look online to purchase them. Look on local yard sale pages, marketplaces or ask around to see if anyone you know has some to sell or give to you. Of course you can also purchase from a verified seed company.
Growing Glass Gem Corn
Glass gem corn can be directly sowed once temperatures have reached 60 degrees Fahrenheit. It is recommended to plant rows 30″ apart while leaving 6-12″ gaps in each row. Plant 3-4 seeds together, about 1″ into the ground or bed. Plant in an area that gets full sun, but always be wary of areas that get strong gusts of wind when it comes to planting corn. Once your plants get tall and heavy they will be prone to blowing over in the wind. Water well- about 1″ of water each week.
Raised garden beds are a great choice for growing corn. Growing glass gem corn is really quite easy. Once you’ve done it successfully it will likely become a regular for your garden each year.
Harvesting Glass Gem Corn
How will you know when your corn is ready to harvest? It is typically 110-120 days until you can harvest. Because this is a flint variety of corn, it will mostly dry out on the stalks before it’s ready. Growing the stalks and then watching them brown will be a lesson in patience! Once you have waited the 115 days or so, and if you push on the kernels and they feel nice and hard (without and dimples from your fingernails), then they are ready!
Simply pull down the cob and twist in order to remove them from the stalks. Then it’s the fun reveal. Peel the husks off the cobs and see what colors you get to enjoy. You can also leave some of the husks on if you’d like to leave them out for decoration.
Drying & Shelling (Removing From The Cob)
You’ve removed all the husks and have enjoyed seeing what your hard work and patience has accomplished! Now it’s time for drying. Simply leave them in a cool, dry place, on a rack or table while rotating them every few days. After 4-6 weeks they should be as hard as “flint” and will store for years.
When ready to remove the kernels, you can use your fingers to gently remove them. They will come off fairly easily, and this is a favorite activity for our kids. Be warned that over time your fingers can get very sore. If you have more than a few cobs to remove the kernels from, there are corn shellers you can purchase, hand held or electric, that will become your best friend quickly. Or there is this cast iron, manual corn shelling machine.
Can You Eat Glass Gem Corn? And Other Uses
What does glass gem corn taste like? If you eat it off a cob that’s been cooked, some say it is still somewhat tasty, earthy taste but not sweet and harder to chew. Most people will not like it cooked and eaten off the cob.
This flint variety is really best for a few uses:
- Preserving seeds for next year
- To be ground up for cornmeal
- Cooked for hominy
- Popped for popcorn
- Used ornamentally
- To sell your own seeds
A Beautiful, Edible Addition to Your Garden
Sunflowers are a great companion to corn in the garden. Learn more about mammoth sunflowers in the garden. Glass gem corn is a joy to grow, fun for the kids to help with and is very easy to harvest. Hope you enjoy the beauty and surprise of what each cob will look like. Grow it year after year and enjoy!
Wishing you and your family all the best on your self reliance journey!
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