(Photo: Hmun)

A Brief History of Glass Gem Corn

The amazing story of Glass Gem corn starts with two men with a dedication to preserving and bringing back ancient Native American corn varieties.

Carl Barnes (Oklahoma) was interested in his Native American heritage and began to gather corn seeds that used to grow in the area a long time ago. After harvesting them, he began to notice traits in the corn that resembled long-lost local Native American corn varieties. By breeding for these traits, Barnes developed a range of different heritage corns and was able to return them to their original local stewards.

Barnes eventually met fellow corn revival enthusiast, Greg Schoen (New Mexico), who began to interbreed his own local Native American corns with Barnes’ rainbow corn varieties. In 2008, Schoen dispersed the first Glass Gem corn seeds into the world. They were sent to India, Israel, Kenya, Mexico, and the US to whoever was interested in growing them.

By 2012 a photo of Glass Gem corn went viral, and that was it—the market for Glass Gem corn seeds skyrocketed. Now they are grown all over the world and are super affordable for most gardeners (a pack of 50 seeds is roughly USD $3.) Talk about an amazing comeback!

How to Plant Glass Gem Corn

Greg Schoen, the botanist who ultimately created the Glass Gem corn varieties, recommends growing them in rows that are 30 inches apart. In each row, leave a gap of 6-12 inches. He says that you can also cluster 3-4 seeds in a hole, and leave a gap between clusters of 3-4 feet. Plant in the spring when the soil reaches at least 60 °F / 15.5 °C. Plant in full sun and ensure the area is protected from wind. Corn will begin to grow in a week or two.

How to Grow Glass Gem Corn

Corn does better without being waterlogged. It’s recommended you only provide them with about an inch of water per week. At the end of its growing season, the corn stalks and husks will begin to dry out and turn brown.

How to Harvest Glass Gem Corn

Wait until the husks are dry and brown to harvest. To remove husks from the stalk, twist the husk while pulling downward in one fluid movement. This will release the husk from the stalk.

How to Dry and Preserve Glass Gem Corn Cobs

Since Glass Gem corn is a type of flint corn, it will naturally begin to dry while still on its stalk. After harvesting, peel the husks back from the corn cobs. Either cut the husks off or leave them on for decoration.

Raise a large screen or cooling/drying rack off of the ground so that air can flow around and beneath the corn cobs. Spread the corn cobs out on the drying rack, turning them once a day to ensure even drying.

After a week, gently press your fingernail into a Glass Gem corn kernel. When fully dried, the kernels will be “hard as flint.”

In this completely dried state, Glass Gem corn can last for many years. It can be used to grow more Glass Gem corn next year, popped for popcorn, ground for cornmeal, cooked for hominy, or used ornamentally for decoration.

(Source: dengarden.com)

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