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Garth Brown |

I grew some corn this year. Judging solely by the number of varieties of sweet corn vs field corn on offer in seed magazines the American gardener is much, much more interested in growing sweet corn. When I page through the catalogue I skim past those types and zero in on the stuff than makes good cornmeal. I know, I know I'm an anomaly on many dietary fronts, but sweet corn's dominant flavor is just so... sweet. There is so much more to the 'corniness' of corn meal, and so much room for subtlety that cannot shine out from under overwhelming sugar.

This year's crop was much less successful than I hoped, but better than my previous year's attempts at Zea mays when I got nada... As per usual, I think a crow found my planting because most of the seeds germinated, but soon thereafter only little holes remained in the soil instead of plants. The few that dodged the black bill of death yielded some lovely dent corn. It has just a hint of sweetness and the corn bread made therefrom is the best I've ever had. I guess it must be the freshest cornmeal I've had to cook with, though to be completely honest I did go a little out of bounds and used milk from the store.

I think corn is a good garden crop for the prepping type. It is high yielding on a per/acre basis, assuming the birds can be held at bay early on. It is easy to grow. As opposed to small grains it is easy to harvest by hand. It would be easy to maintain a genetically diverse population year after year growing one's own seed (this is not true of other potential staples like Hubbard squash). It only demands moderate fertility but will respond admirably to more fertility inputs. Once dried down the kernels last for a long time. Sure, as with all foodstuff the quality deteriorates over time, but compared to root vegetables corn is indestructible. It tastes pretty good too. I used to downplay the importance of general palatability my rationale being, if one is hungry everything tastes good, but after my seasons of rutabaga this year I no longer believe that. I have a monster rutabaga sitting on my porch right now and I can't bring myself to cook it. I haven't had a single bite of that root since the first week of July, and I don't miss it. I'd rather eat corn.


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