Monday, February 16, 2009
The Promise Of Blue Jade Corn
Every year we try new plants or techniques in the garden, sometimes with great success other times not so much. Part of the joy in growing ones own food is in the experimentation aspect of the whole venture. We rarely have absolute failures, only because we take food production very seriously and usually limit speculative undertakings to a small percentage of what we grow or create in the garden.
This year we are trying a variety of new crops and will also be experimenting with various water retention methods amongst other endeavors. I must say that I am really chomping at the bit to get going, more so then in previous years. Perhaps the long winter has finally taken it's toll upon my patience, but more likely it is all the newfangled food gardening ideas I have been formulating deep within the recesses of my mind over the preceding cold months.
All was OK until I noticed Blue Jade Corn in the Seed Savers Exchange catalogue. I had found my nemesis...everyone seems to have one crop that they struggle with and mine is corn. I grow it every year and it is always a battle to bring the crop to fruition, this past year was certainly no exception. At first battered with wind and hail then washed away by torrents of rain, replanted, my Golden Bantam went on to grow into beautiful 8' tall maize that towered far above me. A mere gaze would cause my heart to leap with pretentious joy...I haughtily cursed the weather, for certainly I had at last triumphed in this inexorable pursuit. Never again would I fail to master the fine art of corn production. But in the midst of my celebration, upon seeing my contemptuous pride, the gods sent the wind to promptly flatten my corn back into the earth from wenst it came and a second recovery was not to be had. My fabulous corn was but silage for the chickens.
"Surely this year will be different" I thought, casting an uneasy glance into the heavens, for I had been introduced to Blue Jade Corn. Even I, a perennial underachiever in the cultivation of corn, might have a chance with this variety.
Blue Jade Corn or Baby Blue (botanical name - Zea mays 'Blue Jade') are miniature open pollinated plants that bear 3-6 (some say up to 7) ears of sweet, steel-blue cobs that turn jade-blue when boiled. Plants grow 2-3' tall. One of the only sweet corns that can grow in containers. The cobs are supposedly sweet and tasty for an older variety of sweet corn and are said to make fabulous creamed corn which freezes very well. Although I did read a review somewhere that stated If you are used to modern sweet corn, you may not like the taste of this old heirloom.
The blue color comes from anthocyanins which are concentrated pigments that may appear red, purple, or blue and are found in fruits, berries, purple cabbage, beets, and even corn. These powerful antioxidants have been linked to a wide array of health benefits. Possibly preventing the onset of major degenerative diseases of aging including cancer, heart disease, stroke, cataracts, and mental irregularities just to name a few. Anthocyanins are currently being researched for a large number of potential health benefits.
In conclusion, I am sure to prevail with my corn this year. Even I may prove victorious at growing a hardy short season corn (70-80 days) that should be wind resistant due to it's short stature. So what if it does not hold up to our less then stringent taste tests, most will be frozen or dried for flour anyway. Wish me luck...
Posted by Mr. H. at 9:02 PM