Growing Multi-Coloured Corn

Posted: 2023

Sourcing Corn Seed

Over the winter, I obtained a seed packet of genetically diverse sweet corn seed from Going to Seed. By a lucky coincidence, I was on the mailing list to get early access to their seed selections.

Planting Perfect Rows

After exam season, I had a week or two to spend preparing rows to plant corn.

Prepared, with a soaker hose running through the patch.

I remember measuring the length of my rows with a tape measure and planting a single corn seed every 6 inches. I also tried my best to randomly distribute the different colours of corn seeds.

I was away from home for most of the summer, and didn't have the chance to tend to my corn patch often. The soaker hose setup was used maybe twice. The plants probably would have done better if they were weeded better and watered more.


Nevertheless, the plants did fantastic. I was able to see a wide range of characteristics in the plants. Red and white corn silk, with varying amounts of purple pigmentation in different parts of the foliage. The dead stalks made some very cool haloween decorations. Ovbiously, the rainbow cobs are their greatest asset. The only pest problem I had was with earwigs who I think ate the silks, resulting in the tips of the cobs not pollinating very well.

Unfortunatley, I didn't have much experience growing corn, and I missed the window for harvesting this corn. Most of what I tried tasted overripe. There was one cob I ate straight off the plant earlier in the season and it was amazing.

The cobs, drying on a rack to save for seed.

Corn Fungus Invasion

Before growing corn myself, I had heard of "corn smut" as a nuisance in corn, but I didn't know much about it. While in my cornfield once I found some on my plants. I didn't know it was something that could be found in Canada. I did a little bit of research to confirm that it was what I thought it was, and I found that it's supposedly a delicacy in Mexico and that the traditional name for it is "huitlacoche". (a better name)

I found this corn fungus on a few occasions and cooked it into an omelet and into a quesadilla. For the quesadilla, I forgot to add chicken and didn't realize unitl I'd already eaten half of it. (That's good right?) I shared my cooking with my brother, and I think next year he wants me to try to grow this huitlacoche on purpose. I'm not sure if that's possible though.

Variety Preservation + Seed Sharing

The corn seed I planted this year had very little variety information. The only information I have is: "It was a mix of corn people sent in from around the US. Some landraces and some pure lines/heirlooms. It was about 30 total different samples that were mixed together." That's ok enough for me. It's corn, and any seeds from it will grow corn too.

The corn I grew this year has fields of (almost certainly gmo) corn growing a few kilometers away. I found in my research that one way to keep sweet corn pure is to only save the wrinkly seeds, as that's the defining characteristic of sweet corn, and any fields around me were probably growing grain corn. I'm reasonably confident that it should stay pure, but if it crossed, I can't do much about it.

Mistiming the harvest means that I have a lot more seeds than I could possibly use next year. I made corn muffins out of some of the reject seeds. The mix of colours had the cornmeal looking like beach sand—with a texture like it too. The dozen and a half muffins I made were delicious and I barely shared them.

If I know you and you'd like some seeds, I'd be happy to share. Buying these seeds, I had the disclaimer "We ask that you commit to growing these seeds without pampering, save seeds from the tastiest, earliest, and healthiest plants, and send a portion of those seeds back to the program [or to others]. This will allow us to grow the seed supply and provide adapted selections to new gardeners.". If I share seeds with you, try to follow that same guidance.