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Choosing the Right Heirloom Corn variety for your Garden

Choosing the Right Heirloom Corn variety for your Garden

Mary Smith |

If you plan on growing heirloom corn this year, it is important to understand the different types of corn and how they are used. Are you looking for a "corn on the cob" type (sweet corn) or are you looking for one to make cornmeal? How about animal feed?

Growing Corn: usually germinates in 10-14 days.  Keep soil moist but not standing water.  Seeds can rot if they are left in soggy conditions.

Corn is wind-pollinated, so it should be planted in blocks, rather than in single row

Plant seeds outdoors approximately two weeks after the last spring frost date.

It’s important to get corn planted as soon as possible, since it requires a fairly long growing period with warm weather.

Plant seeds 1.5 to 2 inches deep and 4 to 6 inches apart.

Corn is considered a heavy feeder so plan to fertilize as soon as seeds sprout (2 inches tall) and plant in nutrient-rich soil.



flint, flour, dent, pop, sweet and waxy.

Flint is used to make cornmeal and livestock feed — it’s also what is known as “Indian” corn.

Flour is made up of soft starch and gets used as corn flour.

Hard-shelled dent corn is the most widely grown type in the States, and gets used for oils, syrups, grits, flours, bio-fuel and animal feed.

Then you have. popcorn, and waxy corn, which was found in China in the early 1900s and has a texture similar to glutinous rice.

sweet corn: the type we commonly eat fresh, frozen or canned.


Dynamite Popcorn-100 days. A South American heirloom popcorn variety.  Dynamite popcorn produces large ears with yellow-orange kernels.  A High yielding popcorn which produces 5' stalks and 6" ears of excellent quality. 

Glass Gem- Produces a diversity of gorgeous translucent, jewel-colored ears, each one unique. Size of ears range from 3-8 inches. Corn plants commonly produce numerous tillers, or side stalks, which also produce ears. Height of plants depend upon quantity of water, but can reach up to 9 feet, typically 6 feet. A popcorn, the kernels may be ground into cornmeal or popped

VIDEO: Making Popcorn with Homegrown Glass Gem Corn


Hopi Blue- 110 days. Considered a staple of the Hopi people. Can be eaten as a sweet corn when young, or allowed to dry it can be used to make flour. Hopi Blue has a higher protein content than a dent corn and makes wonderful tortillas. The 7 inch, dried blue ears also make great autumn decorations. Plants are 5-6 feet tall.


Painted Mountain Corn - 110 days. Painted corn is extremely cold and drought tolerant for a corn.  grows about 5' tall producing ears about 7" long. Great for cornmeal. can also be eaten fresh or roasted in the early "milk" stage


Country Gentleman sweet corn -90-110 days.  1890 in the Connecticut River Valley, it is a much bigger form of a very old variety. In fertile soils, it can yield three ears per stalk, sometimes more. shoe-peg corn with white, tender kernels


Stowell's Evergreen Sweet - 80-110 days. Gardeners have been growing Stowell's Evergreen since the mid 1800s, and enjoying its sweet, old-fashioned goodness. Named for its breeder, Nathan Stowell, and evergreen because it holds its fresh taste in the field. Tall, 8-10 foot stalks bear 8 inch ears with 16-18 rows of tender, creamy white kernels.


Kulli Corn, Maiz Morado -The darkest colored corn known, it has a most delicious flavor and is believed to have one of the highest amounts of healthy anthocyanins of any corn! The ancient Maiz Morado, also known as Kulli, originated in Peru in the Andes highlands.

This ancient corn is excellent as a flour corn or as a flavorful sweet corn when picked young. It is also used in South America to brew a special and highly revered drink known as chicha morado. This drink was an important ceremonial aspect to the Incan Empire and civilizations before them.


Blue Clarage Dent - 110 days. Also known as 'Ohio Blue Clarage' is an old heirloom variety reportedly originating from the Ohio-West Virginia area of the Appalachian Mountains in the early 1800s. its stalks grow from seven to ten feet in height, depending on location and conditions, producing one to two, eight to ten inch ears each


Floriani Red Flint - 100 days.  rare variety from Italy. Excellent for cornmeal.  Cornmeal has a pink cast, and makes a polenta with a rich, complex flavor. Plants grow 7-10 ft. tall - slightly smaller and faster maturing than other varieties


Mandan Bride Flint Corn - Attributed to the Mandan tribe of North Dakota; this Native American flour corn was planted by Mandan women along with beans, sunflowers, and squash.

Mandan Bride bears multi-colored ears that have kernels that can have various combinations of red, black, orange, yellow and white. The ears grow to 8" and the stalks to 6ft.



Sweet is harvested when the husk is still green.  The rest are harvested later when husks are more dry


If you have specific garden or seed related questions, please contact us via email at MARY@MARYSHEIRLOOMSEEDS.COM
Happy Planting!


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I am looking for your recommendation for plants that will do well in my area. Granite Falls, WA. I live in Cold Creek Canyon outside of Granite Falls. It is about 5 degrees cooler all day long. The creek feeds into the Stillaguamish River, about 1-2.5 city blocks away.
Do you have wild Salmon Berries or Oregon Golden Raspberries?
Thank you for your assistance in this matter.
Nancy C. Brown McGhie

Nancy Brown McGhie ,

Thank you for sharing all the information you sent.
I live in Miami and I want to start my vegetable
garden.Is it possible to grow Kulli Corn and.
Floriani Red Flint Corn in this Zone?.
Thank you for your help.
Martha .


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