FAQ May 02 2014
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The FAQ is organized by geographical region. Scroll down to find helpful growing, cultivating, harvesting, and seed storage information. If you have unanswered questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Plant 10-12 inches apart in rows 3 feet apart, in fertile ground. The more fertilizer you can work into the soil in advance, the better. Plant it when the soil temp reaches 55 degrees F. Plant it DEEP--depending on your soil, anywhere from 1 to 4 inches deep. Try to be consistent in the planting depth so all the corn comes up at the same time.
This corn likes well-drained soil and is bred to withstand drought conditions. It does not do well in soil that stays saturated with water for long periods. In Montana we only water once a day in the evening or morning before the sun comes out. Keep watering the corn until it has produced ears with kernels that are deeply pigmented. The corn will let you know when it's time to stop watering at the end of the summer because the ears will stop growing larger and the kernels will begin to get harder. If all goes to plan, you could probably stop watering after 75-80 days.
Then, just leave it in the field until the plants are dry and brown and the kernels are hard. Then you can harvest the ears, shuck them in the field and store the cobs with the grain on them in cardboard boxes. The grain can be shelled off of the ears by hand, then you can grind it into corn flour using a blender or grain mill.
DEAR 7,300 feet (Unspecified latitude)
Because much of gardening in the Rocky Mountains depends upon individual micro-climate, soil, regional precipitation etc, we can't make any blanket statements about the corn's ability to grow and reliably produce at 7,300 feet. It really depends entirely on your latitude. 7,300 feet in Alaska is going to be a very different growing season than 7,300 feet in New Mexico. We've been able to grow this corn successfully at 6,000 feet in southwest Montana, but we've never tried growing it at 7,300 feet at this latitude (45 degrees North). Realistically, if there's a corn out there that has a chance of making it at 7,300 in the northern Rockies in the US, Painted Mountain Corn is it. If you give us more details on your micro-climate we can give you some tips and tricks for a successful harvest, even if your growing season is shorter than 90 days.
DEAR POUNDS OF SEED PER ACRE
Calculating how much seed you need for an acre is an inexact science. It all depends on your planting regime and spacing, which in turn depends entirely on soil fertility and irrigation/precipitation. Also, given that we do our entire crop by hand, and our fields are irregularly sized and each one unique in fertility and irrigation/precipitation, our own estimates are very rough. The best I can give you is: 10 pounds planted 1 seed per hole, 10-12 inches apart in rows 3 ft apart planted roughly an acre for us this spring. I suspect that field was larger than an acre, although the farmer we leased from insisted it wasn't, and we never took the time to measure it ourselves.
DEAR "IS IT SWEET CORN?"
You can certainly eat it fresh. If you catch it while it's still young and soft it can be quite delicious, although the texture is not like sweet corn and it's very hearty and filling. Painted Mountain Corn is a nutritional staple, rather than a sweet veggie.
DEAR SEED SAVER
Are you concerned at all about GMO contamination? Most strains of corn are contaminated, because corn pollen travels for miles and miles on the wind. Our Painted Mountain is GMO free simply because we grow it where no other corn can survive.
If that is not a concern for you, go for it. You will find you have stronger crops if you keep a good genetic diversity in the seed you save by a little seed from every one of your best ears. We even recommend growers "beefing up" their genetic strains by mixing some more seed from us with their own saved seed. The genetic diversity of Painted Mountain is its strength. If it gets "inbred" you'll start having problems. When we harvest, we separate all the best, most mature, most colorful ears, shuck, shell and mix all the kernels together. Then we weigh out what we want to save for next year's crop before we eat or sell any of it.
Remember you can plant Painted Mountain as soon as soil temperatures hit the low 50s. This is well before you can plant the blue Hopi or Red Cherokee. Soaking the seeds should give you even more of a head-start as well.
Painted Mountain can get stunted by too much water. It is very different from other varieties of Indian corn from the southwest and any varieties of corn from the midwest. The only thing we've found that can truly kill this corn is too much water. Make sure you are letting the Painted Mountain dry out between watering, especially if you flood irrigate. It will perform better in well-drained soil. It also could be fertility. All corn is heavy nitrogen feeder. Painted Mountain will be stunted with tiny ears if there is no nitrogen in the soil. (Most corn wouldn't survive zero nitrogen and certainly wouldn't produce). Try adding alfalfa pellets from your local feed store to the top few inches of soil before you plant. The only other situation we've seen with stunted PM like you describe is desert-like drought conditions that last all summer. You can tell immediately if PM is dehydrated because instead of wilting and dying like other corn, the leaves curl in on themselves length-wise. The leaves are still green, they just start looking like spiky grass instead of corn. This is the drought defense bred into Painted Mountain corn. It will survive, while barely growing and producing tiny ears, where other corn would be long dead.
We had all kinds of interesting problems as we were planting. From unexpected new land we could plant, to gophers eating the young shoots and digging up others to let them dehydrate and die.
The best way to begin developing your own Painted Mountain Corn is to start with the size field you and your family can practically plant, tend and harvest, and go from there. You have to approach it with the mentality of "this is an experiment" and stay practical. Plant a corn patch the size you can practically handle, then focus on figuring out how to maximize the yield from that corn patch. Keep meticulous records of how much you planted, how you planted it, and how it grew. Decide how much seed to keep back based on how much you planted, if you can handle a bigger corn patch next year, and if you want to change plant/row spacing.
Depending on soil fertility and irrigation/precipitation you will have to adjust your plant spacing, but we have found that 10 lbs of seed will plant roughly one acre if you plant one seed per hole, 10-12 inches apart in rows 3 ft apart. Understand however that this is very rough. We didn't have a precise measurement for our largest field, and never took the time to measure it ourselves, and we planted by hand, so our spacing was approximate and "eye-balled."
When saving seed to plant next year, pick the best, most mature, and most colorful ears--shell them into one big tub, and mix all the seed together. Then weigh out how much seed you want to keep for next year's planting, plus a little extra in case of emergency (or gophers). Eat the rest.
If you want to keep your seed GMO-free, then be very, very cautious about neighbors growing hybrid corn varieties. Almost all corn varieties are GMO contaminated, and your Painted Mountain can easily get contaminated because corn pollen travels for miles on the wind. If you live in an area that has GMO corn being grown, I strongly suggest finding an organic farmer to lease land from in an area that has no other corn being grown. That is the safest way to go, and it is the only reason our Painted Mountain strain is GMO free. We grow it where no one else can grow corn.
We would love to see more people growing Painted Mountain for seed, selecting for the best strains for their micro-climate and sharing it with their community. Our belief is that this is a valuable, quality product that every prepper should have access too, and people can enrich themselves and their communities with it--without exploitation.
Soaking the corn gives you about a week head-start in our experience. Depending on your growing season, elevation, and micro-climate this may not have been necessary for you. The seed should have come up either way.
DEAR HARVESTING HELP
We like to let the corn dry in the field, on the stalk. If you irrigate, we recommend shutting off the water about two weeks before your first hard frost, to begin the drying process. Also, if your corn is mostly dry by the time the temperatures drop well below freezing, you will have better germination rates as the seed germ will be dry enough to not risk damage by freezing.
Let your corn dry in the field until the corn stalks are dry and brittle and the cobs are easy to snap off. There are many great little hand tools to help you harvest. Buy a few different types of shucking hooks online and try them out to find the one that works best for you. When your field is dry as a bone and you are ready to harvest, walk through the field with a duffle bag of some sort over one shoulder and snap off each ear of corn, shuck it, and throw it in the bag. When your bag is full, empty it into a wheelbarrow or bed of a truck and repeat. When you have harvested the entire field, transport to your storage area. We have an old-fashioned corn crib that works well for us. Wherever you store it, try to keep it dry, cold, and free of rodents and vermin. You can store it in cardboard boxes in your garage if need be. We find it's easier to handle and transport on the cob.
When you are ready to use the corn, buy a "popcorn sheller" online (a nifty, cheap little ring of metal with ridges on the inside of the ring), watch some youtube videos, and go to town. You can shell this corn by hand if the corn is very dry. You will know your corn is not dry enough if it is hard to shell. Once you have a bowl/sack/tub of corn kernels, it is time to winnow. We live in a very windy area so we just go outside and pour the corn slowly from one container to another, leaving a few feet between the containers for the wind to blow through the corn and carry the lightweight chaff and fluff away.
When your corn is winnowed, it is time to grind. Painted Mountain is bred for soft starches, so you can "grind" in a blender if necessary. We use an old-fashioned hand-grinder. (Note: We have since put the hand grinder in storage and use a blender for all flour & meal needs in the kitchen.) When your corn is ground, you can use it for corn cakes, cornbread, grits, fish-fry batter, etc. Another option is to treat the corn with pickling lime before you grind it to make nixtamal, or hominy.
DEAR WISE ELDER
My dad, New Ordnance is a vet as well, in his 70s now. He's hale and hardy and does most of the field work on our family farm. He can keep up with my brother and I, though he's less the hare and more the tortoise. My generation needs folks like you and my dad to give us the benefit of your experience. Stay healthy and stay warm.
DEAR RECIPES & PLANTING WITH BEANS
For the most part, we make our own recipes for corn cakes, southern-style cornbread, and grits (which we've wanted to share on the website, but haven't had the time yet), but we have found some good recipes for making hominy and masa from various sources online.
We use a hand-grinder similar to the old-fashioned hand-grinders you can find on the internet. I think your Whisper Mill should do just fine. Painted Mountain has been bred for soft starches, so you can even "grind" it in a blender. (Note: We have since put the hand grinder in storage and use a blender for all day-to-day flour and meal grinding needs.)
This corn would do very well with pole beans. We have planted it with bush beans to great success (bush beans still seem to like the support and shelter from dry summer wind) Just make sure you plant the beans right next to each corn stalk (I do one bean on each side, two inches away) after the corn is ~4 inches high.
DEAR POUNDS PER ACRE (Greece)
The seed you need for 1 acre depends entirely on your planting regime. There are no hard and fast rules. If you have rich, fertile soil and are irrigating or have good rains, then you can plant much closer together--as close as 6-8 inches. We have found that 10 lbs. of seed will plant roughly one acre, if you plant one seed per hole, 10-12 inches apart, with 3 feet between rows.
However, for a first timer, I would strongly recommend starting off with less than an acre.
DEAR PLANTING & SAVING/STORING SEED INSTRUCTIONS
I hope you were able to find our section on planting under "Updates" dated April 22, 2012. The corn is wind pollinated, so that should not have been an issue, unless you were growing them undercover or in an area that experiences zero wind. Just like any other variety of corn, you must plant in a block, rather than strung-out rows, if you want optimum pollination.
For fertilizer, we always supplement our soil with a combination of glacial rock dust, azomite, biozome, kelp powder, fish emulsion and alfalfa pellets to maximize the quality and strength of our seed crop. We have had some exceptional results. We formulate the mixture by hand in small batches, so it is difficult to give specific recommendations, although I am working with my dad, New Ordnance, to document our process and post it on the website. Like all corn, Painted Mountain will benefit from whatever fertilizer or compost you can give it, especially nitrogen-rich formulations. However, we have received reports that this corn will produce small, four-inch cobs in soil tested to contain zero nitrogen. It is a survivor, but you will get a better crop if you can give it nitrogen and minerals.
We are encouraging all the people who grew Painted Mountain this summer to give us detailed reports of their experiences so we can develop a detailed planting strategy based on environment, soil, elevation and growing season.
We grew our first crop of painted mountain in the late 90s as an ornamental crop before we knew anything about it or what it was. Since we rediscovered it as a self-sustainable crop for independent farmers to grow to feed their families and communities, we've been working to dispel the myth that this corn is just for decoration.
How did it go, feeding the crop to your Longhorns? My brother noticed the corn stalks are sweet when we were harvesting this year, and chewed on a cut-off section like a piece of sugarcane. We gave our left-over stalks to a friend of the family to feed to his horses. I don't know how that went for him, but I suspect cattle or pigs would do better with just the stalks. We have had reports of people growing a field of painted mountain, and when the crop was mature, just turning the cattle loose in the field.
Field-drying is the way to go if you want to use the grain for food and seed. Make sure to cut off all irrigation two weeks before the first hard frost, so the corn will be on it's way to being well-dried and the seed germ will not be damaged. When you do this depends entirely on your elevation, climate and growing season.
We have done an early harvest for one field where field-drying was not an option. The corn was partially dried and fairly hard to the touch, although could still be bruised with a fingernail. We harvested the corn by hand, keeping the shucks on, and threw all the cobs on the roof of our house and spread them out to sun-dry. This worked quite well, although it was more labor intensive. We built an old-fashioned corn crib to store the corn. We store it shucked, on-the-cob, and shell the corn just before we ship it out to customers (or grind it up for cooking in our kitchen). So far this has been primarily for convenience, as we find it's easier to handle and store the corn if it's still on the cob.
The keys are: Keep it dry, keep it cold, protect it from rodents. Depending on how dry and/or cold your climate is, you may need to be concerned about condensation. When transferring your stored corn from a cold location to a warm location, do it slowly to avoid moisture condensation on the surface of the kernels. If you do have condensation, just spread your corn out and let it dry off. We bring our corn inside in cardboard boxes, stir the cobs around over a period of twelve hours until the cobs are at room temp and dry to the touch, shell the corn off the cob into an extra-large galvanized washtub, stir and mix the seed together, and winnow into large paper bags before use.
Dry volume yield per plant will vary depending on your soil, climate and growing season. There are too many variables that effect yield. The best advice is to experiment and see. We will be posting detailed information on our most successful and least successful crops to date and what factors we believe played a role in our results.
I can give you a rough estimate of seed to hold back. Depending on your soil fertility and irrigation/precipitation, you should adjust your planting density accordingly. For poor soil and dry-land farming, plant 12-14 in. apart. For nitrogen-rich, fertile soil and regular irrigation and/or precipitation, plant as close as 6-8 in. It's a give and take between plant spacing and yield. Crowded plants yield smaller cobs and fewer cobs per plant. Germination rates are high enough that you can plant one seed per hole (not three per hole as some corn requires). For a planting regime of one seed per hole with planting distance around 10-12 inches and rows ~3ft apart, you can expect 10 lbs of corn to plant roughly an acre. This is the best estimate we've been able to come up with so far, as our own fields have varied so widely in size, fertility and irrigation/precipitation that each planting has been completely unique.
DEAR MOUNTAINS OF CALIFORNIA
(Based on 2012 crop again - 2013 crop yields were higher.) In well drained, highly mineralized, neutral-alkaline pH soils with adequate macro-nutrients (NPK), under a moderate irrigation schedule, planted 1 foot apart, in a 90 day growing season with full sun exposure, at 5,000 feet in southwestern Montana we have yields of up to 700 kernels per plant. We make no guarantees of yield, but if you're a gardener in California and have 90 days of growing season and good soil, this corn should produce for you.
DEAR WORRIED ABOUT FROST
Basically, Painted Mountain Corn is fairly frost hardy. The leaves can be killed by frost, but if warmer weather follows and the freeze wasn't hard enough to freeze the ears, the ears will continue to mature. Practically speaking, if you want to get 100% germination rate from the corn you're growing, protecting the kernels from freezing while they're still in the "juicy" stage is a good idea. If they can't be dented by a fingernail and the moisture is below 30%, then it's going to take a super-freeze to damage the germ of the kernel.
Because we're in the seed business, we always harvest early if there's any question of kernels freezing when they're still above 30% moisture because we want to ensure the highest rate of germination. If the crop is being grown primarily for food and germination rates between 70-80% are acceptable, then it makes sense just to leave it in the field until it's bone dry in late October/ early November and harvest before the snow settles on the ground. Freezing won't hurt the nutritional value of the corn as long as it has a chance to dry out afterwards. It sounds like you had a good number of plants--I wouldn't be too worried if they were exposed to frost at the stage you said they were in.
A rule of thumb is if the kernels are juicy and a hard freeze is coming, the best strategy to preserve maximum germination rate is to harvest and shuck in the field, then spread the naked ears out in someplace dry that will stay above freezing. Moisture condensation will cause mold, so having a bunch of wet ears in a big pile on a tarp would required frequent inspection and turning of the pile to ensure maximum aeration and equal drying of all the ears. Because it's such a hassle to harvest green ears and then baby-sit them through the drying process, we prefer to leave things in the field until they're bone dry.
DEAR NORTHERN NEW MEXICO
Our dad spent quite a bit on time in northern New Mexico and is familiar with your area. Generally speaking, growing seasons at higher elevations in the southern U.S. are similar to those found at lower elevations in the northern U.S. Given that your area of operations is at the transition elevation between Pinon and Ponderosa pine, we believe that your growing season is roughly similar to that found in Helena, MT at about 5,000 feet where Ponderosa pine also begins to grow.
Painted Mountain Corn matures perfectly fine at elevations here in Montana in the 5,000 foot range, so we expect that it should do fine at 8,400 feet in New Mexico. This corn has also been grown on mountainsides in North Korea and parts of Siberia, so it is very hardy and well adapted to cold climates. Realistically speaking, micro-climates play a very important role in determining what can be grown. Here in Montana, south-southeast facing slopes that are sheltered from prevailing winds have yielded giant Hubbard squashes for our neighbors, as well as healthy stands of Painted Mountain Corn. However in a nearby more exposed location Hubbard Squash doesn't do so well while Painted Mountain corn still manages to produce reliably.
DEAR RETURN ON INVESTMENT
(From our 2012 crop) Under optimal growing conditions, we've found that painted mountain corn can yield 300-700 kernels per plant (2013 crop was even higher yield). One way of projecting a potential yield is to multiply the weight of the seed you plant into the ground by 300-700. This will give you an estimate of how many lbs. of grain you can expect from a given number of lbs. planted. I hope this answers your question.
DEAR "VERMIN FEAST,"
We've had vermin problems as well. We solved our issues with a solidly built, old-fashioned corn crib. After spring planting we are going to be posting information about our corn crib design and a few ingenious tricks to keep even field mice from getting into the crop.
DEAR SWEET CORN LOVER,
Yes it can be eaten as fresh corn. But if you have a sweet tooth, it may not be sweet enough for you. It is classified as a "field" corn, which means it has been developed as a dry grain to make into hominy or grind into flour for bread, cakes and tortillas. However, unlike most field corn is has been bred for soft starches which make it very easy to grind when it's dry, but also make it more tender when eaten fresh.
It is sweet--my brother enjoys it tremendously--but it is much heartier than sweet corn, as it does have a very high protein content.
DEAR SOUTH OF DALLAS,
Painted Mountain Corn has been bred for high altitude; short growing season; and cold, stormy, mountain weather. It's gene pool is different from that of the Indian corn varieties developed in the southwest desert areas. We think Painted Mountain Corn might do well at the higher elevations in far west Texas and the panhandle, but growing it south of Dallas will require a little more planning on your part. It is a very hardy, diverse gene pool, and with several years of careful selection, you should be able to develop a sub-variety that will produce well in your climate. Keep in mind that Painted Mountain is bred to thrive in the intense, high-altitude sunlight of the northern Rockies. At lower elevations, especially in the South, planting the corn in direct sunlight is essential. The plants will crave as much light as they can get.
If you decided to try Painted Mountain Corn, plant it quite early, as it germinates best when soil temperatures are in the 55-70 F range. If you plant when the soil is 75 F and warmer, your germination rate will decrease. This corn does not like wet feet, and prefers the soil to dry out to a depth of ~2 inches between watering. The deep soil should remain moist, not soggy. It was bred for drought tolerance, but in very hot weather it gets thirsty. It is a true 90 day corn, which means that if your growing season is much longer than 90 days, you will need to simulate fall as best you can by cutting off all the water at about the 80 day mark.
DEAR NORTHERN NEW MEXICO,
We are familiar with the northern New Mexico area and climate, and my dad and I think this corn would work for you there. You are at a higher elevation than us, but you are further south and the climate is actually very similar, even down to the yearly precipitation. The corn will germinate best when the soil temperatures are in the 55-65 F range, and it is a true 90 day corn, so you'll want to cut off all irrigation at about the 80 day mark to help the ears ripen and dry. It is a very vigorous corn that does not go into plant shock after a little frostbite or wind and hail. It's short, bushy growing habit and deep taproot help it stand up to typical stormy mountain summers.
Yes again. I can't give you any guarantees on how quickly or slowly the germination rate will decline with storage, but I can tell you what our personal experience has been. We have stored Painted Mountain Corn seed in a cool (~50 F year-round), dry (like northern New Mexico), dark basement room in a paper bag and have notice no difference in germination after one year, and a 2-4% reduction in germination the second and third years. This is phenomenal, but I think it is because we have found a near perfect environment for seed storage.
Will we have any problems with a crop anywhere sub 5,000?
It really depends on your latitude. The corn was developed for high altitude farming in the northern Rocky Mountains, where the growing season is 90 days and hedged in by late and early frosts. We are around 45 degrees N latitude at 5,000 ft. If you are further south, you can grow it at higher elevations, and if you are further north, you can grow it at lower elevations.
I can't give you any guarantees, but I think the best way to figure out if it will work is to look at the specific micro-climate and weather patterns where you plan on growing it. Painted Mountain will germinate best when the soil temperatures are in the 50s or low 60s and, as it was developed for drought tolerance, it does not like wet feet. This means planting in well-drained soil, or irrigating infrequently if you plant in heavy clay soil. It seems to do best if the soil can dry out to a depth of ~2 inches between watering with the deep soil staying damp, not soggy. That is the only thing we've found that will destroy a crop. Soggy, swampy soil. It's growing habit is very short and bushy, usually topping out at about 4 ft. This, combined with it's deeper root system help it stand up to stormy weather and wind much more effectively than regular corn. However, we have noticed that as long as there is warm weather and water, the plants will keep on growing. This means that if you plant it in the warm, humid south, you will get a crop, but it will look very strange by the end of summer. It really will do best if your growing season is not much longer than 90 days. However, the gene pool is so diverse, if you select for the best performing corn in your micro-climate and re-seed those plants only, you can develop your own sub-variety of Painted Mountain Corn. It will adapt.
At 5,000 ft. in Utah you may have a bit of a different experience with this corn. It's bred for cold, mountain weather with a 90 day growing season hedged in by early and late frosts, and will germinate best when the soil temperature is about 55 F. You may want to plant earlier that you've been planting the Monsanto corn, and if you have very hot summers, plant in well-drained soil and irrigate. This corn does not like wet feet (bred for drought tolerance), but it will handle very hot weather better if the soil is moist (not soggy).
It looks like you get more rain than we do, which means you may be able to grow it without irrigation. This corn was developed to be drought resistant, and my family and I have found that it performs best if the soil dries out a little (to a depth of 5-6 centimeters) between waterings if you do have to irrigate. If your climate is very wet and rainy, then you will need to plant in well-drained soil (slightly rocky or gravely or sandy soil). The only thing we have ever seen that can stunt this corn and give a bad crop is swampy, soggy soil.
However, like all corn, Painted Mountain is a "heavy feeder" meaning you will get a better crop if there is composted (rotted) organic matter (like animal manure that's been sitting out for several seasons) in the soil, and there is plenty of nitrogen in the soil. You can buy soil testing kits online from many different gardening websites. Be sure that you're compost and fertilizer are not too concentrated or "hot" or they will burn your baby corn plants before they even get started.
Corn will do best if it gets full sun (when the sun is out) and if the end of the summer is drier and sunnier than the spring. Hot, sunny weather will help the ears of corn ripen and dry on the stalk. We have a growing season of about 90 days from the last hard frost in the spring to the first hard frost in the fall. This corn matures within those 90 days and is hardy enough to shake off the first few frost in autumn and keep growing if you get a few more weeks of warm weather.
It is a very short corn--the stalks only get 4-5 feet high (1.2-1.5 meters) so it stands up to wind and stormy weather very well. It can handle several heavy thunderstorms and hail storms per season. In spite of this, we always try to plant our corn where it is at least a little sheltered from heavy winds and storms (like in a small valley or behind a wind-break).
Do some research online on how to grow Indian corn for more details and anything I might have missed. This is much tougher than most Indian corn, but a lot of the principles of cultivation, tending and harvesting are the same. Since you are new to agriculture and "country living" and your English is quite good, I recommend you get The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery
Painted Mountain has much softer starches than most field corn, so it is very easy to grind into flour, and much easier to digest. It has very high protein, comparable to the hard red winter wheat we grow in the US (13% protein) and is full of anti-oxidants, minerals and micro-nutrients. If you look up online techniques for using pickling lime to make hominy and masa dough, that makes the corn even easier to digest and makes more of the nutrients available to your body. We make a lot of tortillas and corn cereal and corn bread. I've even made a successful sourdough starter from scratch with Painted Mountain Corn. Delicious sourdough sandwich bread.
You can also steam it and eat it like corn on the cob if you pick it while it is still young and tender, in the "milk" stage. It is sweet, but not as sweet as the genetically engineered sweet corn. It's much heartier. More like a main course than a sweet vegetable.
DEAR SHIPPING COST
As a very small little operation here, we do not have access to any reduced shipping rates like large companies. The shipping cost table below is the cost of postage, plus only about a dollar and few cents for handling and packing costs. We're always willing to be flexible and do a custom shipping quote for someone if they'd rather not use USPS. Don't hesitate to let us know if this is the case.
0.5 lb USPS First Class Parcel $5.00 USD
1-2 lbs USPS Priority Mail Package $8.00 USD
2.5-10 lbs USPS Priority Mail Package $15.00 USD
10-15 lbs USPS Priority Mail Package $20.00 USD
We've had very good results planting in soil that had a lot of rocks as well as composted organic material. When we planted a field in heavy clay soil, we had to be very careful not to over-irrigate. It was one of our best crops, but we made sure to let the soil dry out before putting more water on it. Well drained soil is a must for this corn. If you have any kind of naturally occurring hill or hummocky area on your land, that would be a better place to plant. Otherwise you will need to build up a pad for the corn patch, beginning with a fair bit of gravel and sand.
(In the image below, note the small ridges the corn is planted on. Also see the detritus of the straw we heaped around the young plants to shield from frosts earlier in the summer. Never cover the leaves! Painted Mountain relies on the intense high-altitude sunlight to power through frost and storm damage)
3. What about making corn flour from it? It is a field corn, bred to be ground up into flour. We let the corn dry on the stalks in the field before going through the field and reaping and shucking the ears. We keep our dry corn on the cob in an old-fashioned corn crib my dad built and shell the corn as we need it. You can buy "popcorn shellers" at most online gardening supply stores. We've treated the kernels with pickling lime and made hominy and masa dough for tortillas and tamales (delicious!), and we've also just ground up the corn into flour and made corn bread, corn cakes, grits, etc. Southern-style cornbread stuffing is a Thanksgiving favorite in our house.
DEAR OVERCAST IN NORTHERN ALASKA
Interesting. We have yet to encounter a situation where the environment was just too cold. This corn is grown in Siberia, so we were hoping it would work for you. If your soil never warms above 50 degrees then you would definitely have problems, as Painted Mountain germinates in soil temps in the low 50s. What are your typical night-time low temperatures? And how long is your growing season again? Hmm. We would like to help you troubleshoot if we can, so your next crop can be more successful.
There are a few other factors you may consider. We've only ever seen stunted stalks and tiny ears in three situations: 1) Too much water. This corn was bred for the dry, western rocky mountains, so it does best in well drained soil that is allowed to dry out to a three-inch depth between watering. 2) No nitrogen in the soil. We have a report of a fellow who grew PM in an infertile raised bed that tested zero nitrogen. He got stunted stalks and miniature ears. We add fish emulsion at several points throughout the growth stage of the plant and add alfalfa pellets to the soil before planting. All corn is a "heavy feeder" and benefits from nitrogen enrichment. 3)Severe drought, dry winds and no irrigation/precipitation for months. If this is the case, the corn leaves curl up length-wise until the plant looks like spiky grass instead of corn. It will still grow and produce, but very, very slowly.
Could light be a factor? I'm not familiar with your climate, but I know that folks who live in overcast areas have to work to make sure the corn is never shaded. Grains need as much sunlight as they can get. And since this corn is bred at high elevations, it grows faster under more intense light.
If you have time, and can give me more details about the growth pattern of the corn, leaf color, etc. I can try to help decipher what went wrong and brainstorm some solutions. My brother is a biologist and my dad is chemist and I'm the one with the green thumb. Between the four of us, we may be able to create a solution.
You know, one of our best crops last year came out of a rocky field that had been a sheep pen, then a horse pasture for 20 years. It was incredibly rich and fertile, but well-drained. Perhaps the rockiness of the soil helped retain heat as well.
DEAR SEARCHING FOR BETTER SEED
I think my brother assumed you bought from us last year--but I've combed through our sales records and I don't have any indication that you did.
It sounds like you had some serious yield issues. A quarter pound of seed (4 ounces) should have given you a lot more than just 2 ounces at harvest time. That must have been terribly disappointing. Can you give us more details? When did you plant? What was the soil temperature? What was the soil like? Did you fertilize or add anything to the soil? How much rain did you get through the summer? Did you irrigate? What did the plants look like as they were growing? Stalk height, ear length, kernels per ear, and insect/vermin levels would all be useful to know. We would like to help troubleshoot your growing situation and give you solutions so your next crop is much more successful. The only things we've found that can severely damage Painted Mountain corn: a) Too much water b) zero nitrogen in the soil c)severe drought in combination with hard-packed dry clay soil, and hot, dry winds with no irrigation or rain for months. In cases b) or c) you should have still gotten a better yield than 2 oz.
We are very glad to hear that you are going to keep trying, and would like to work with you to make sure you get the best yield from the seed you purchase from us.