Farmgirl School

"It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life." -Tolkien



I have alternated playing American Indian and pioneer since I was a child.  I suppose I am still playing.  I have rows of the best corn I have ever grown.  Anyway, they look pretty.  We have had some issues with knowing what to do now.  Doug pulled a nice big ear off one of the stalks.  Now, mind you, you only get two ears on each stalk, so this stuff is precious commodity.

“Yuck, it’s not done.”

He went to throw it to the chickens.  I was horrified.

“Oh no, mister, you eat it.  You picked it, you eat it!”

He threw it to the chickens.

So, I asked my friend who has a very large farm how to know when the corn is ready for picking.  When the corn is full and the silks turn brown.

“Can I open it to peek?”


A few days ago, my friend, Rich, pulled up to visit while I was watering outside.  He said that he had grown up on a farm and left when he was fourteen.  He hadn’t been in a corn field for many, many years.  My cute little corn field of three long rows suited him just fine though, standing there like a mesmerized eight year old.  I went to peek at an ear of corn.

“You never open the corn!”  He boomed.  “You’ll ruin it!  See,” he says, “It will start to bend off of the plant.  Then it is ready to pick.”

I merrily skipped through my corn field yesterday picking all the leaning ears.  Half were done.

smoke signals (This picture is from the seed catalogue.  They apparently know when to harvest.)

I planted three different varieties of heirloom corn.  Two of which are Indian corn.  Smoke signals is a lovely multi-colored stalk of rainbow colors.  I plan to see if I can dry it and make popcorn.  The other is called Black Aztec and is an exciting smoky color.  I plan to dry it and use as corn meal.  The third is an old variety of sweet corn.  Not as sweet as Peaches and Cream, that’s for darn sure, but tasty in its own way.  I have some ears that I am ready to dry.  I am going to place them in a wire basket in the basement “root cellar” and see if they will dry and not mold.  Am I doing this right?


Doug and I visit old pioneer houses that have been made into museums everywhere we travel (we think of decorating ideas and what we need on our homestead while there!) and one of these places held corn on a rake-like contraption hung from the ceiling.  I suppose I could hang a regular rake from the ceiling, but I am rather tall, and likely will hit my head.  Down in the dungeon it goes in hopes of drying properly.  Then off the cobb, through my handy dandy grain grinder and into cornmeal.  Or into the pan for some sweet, old time popcorn!


This is our practice farm, remember, so we are experimenting with different types of corn and how to be more self sufficient.  We both love corn, and corn meal, and popcorn, so we best know how to grow it (and when to harvest it!) and preserve it so that on our next homestead we will be sitting pretty with our bowls of popcorn, “real” corn field, and dried corn….maybe hanging from the ceiling.

10 thoughts on “The Great Corn Experiment

  1. Bob Braxton says:

    when the racoons just ate your corn it is ready

    1. Farmgirl says:

      Too funny! (unless it really happens!)

  2. Bill says:

    I’m sure you’ve probably heard the old saying answering the question “When should I pick my sweet corn?” Answer: “Before the raccoons do.” We grew 1400 row feet of corn this year and only got three ears. Raccoons took the rest. My neighbor grew 2.5 acres and didn’t get any. Deer ate it all. Someone else told me that a bear ate all his neighbors corn this year. So I’m glad to see you’re harvesting it before the critters do!

    We raised field corn for grinding into meal when I was growing up. But I’ve only grown sweet corn. We used the corn into a corn crib for storage, but I don’t remember doing anything other than shoveling the shucked ears into the crib. You’re inspiring me to try to grow some field corn next year. Maybe the raccoons won’t like it as much as they do sweet corn. 🙂

    1. Farmgirl says:

      Yikes! The critters are around here, they just get mixed up in the neighborhood, so haven’t found the garden…yet.

  3. debweeks says:

    We took a break from gardening a few years ago. Yes, I know that sounds strange, but having a son with autism who needed a lot of one-on-one time, made gardening pretty much impossible. I couldn’t keep up with the weeding or harvesting, so we let it go until we got him settled into his adult life. But I digress.

    Our last year gardening, we had several rows of Illini Super Sweet corn. It was growing nicely, then one morning I went out to find several stocks pulled over. I thought the neighborhood kids had been playing and knocked them down. But the next day there were more stocks down and the corn stripped. Upon further investigation I discovered that raccoons were coming into town at night and stealing our Illini Super Sweet. I must say, the raccoons have good taste in sweet corn.

    We decided not to put any corn in the garden this year, but I would love to try again. Maybe next year.

    Your corn looks great by-the-way.

    1. Farmgirl says:

      Plenty of time to garden, even if it is in just a few pots!

      1. Farmgirl says:

        The kids may enjoy that. Doesn’t have to be a huge garden. Being a mommy comes first though, like you said!

      2. debweeks says:

        Tried planting some things in pots and got nothing. I don’t think I had the right soil mixture. I do want to try my hand at growing herbs in doors this year though, which has absolutely nothing to do with corn 🙂

        At least my garden is back up and has produced quite well this year.

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