Growing Glass Gem Corn & Its Uses

Featured image with title and cob of glass gem corn.

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.

Bowl full of a variety of glass gem corn fully grown and harvested.
Glass gem corn was made years ago by breeding heirloom native American seeds.

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

Large green glass gem corn stalks.
Growing glass gem corn is fairly simple and fun.

New to gardening? Learning about different gardening methods is an important first step in your self reliance journey. Also check out the basics to composting to help your garden thrive.

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!

Five different glass gem corn cobs laying in a row.
All of these different cobs came from one season of growth, same seed bunch.

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.

Two corn cobs next to a pile of removed kernels.
Once dried, the kernels are fairly easy to remove 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

One vibrantly colored glass gem corn cob with blues, greens and pinks.
Glass gem corn is edible, but not in the way you might think.

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 and glass gem corn growing in the garden together.
Enjoy a thriving garden with the addition of glass gem corn this year.

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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Herbs, Birds & the Bees

Garden, Chickens, Bees & Homestead