“What would happen if”… is a phrase that has surely caused as many miraculous discoveries as it has trips to the Emergency Room. Thankfully, for us, our “what if” is a fairly benign one.
If you have never grow Glass Gem Corn, then you might not be familiar with why it has become so popular. The ears produce kernels of multiple colors which are a bit translucent, giving the appearance of almost being a ear of stained glass, than of corn.
Uses for Glass Gem Corn
Let’s face it, most folks growing this corn aren’t expecting to eat it. Most of us are perfectly happy with looking at it – making crafts out of it for autumn decorations. When the season runs out perhaps we’ll throw the cobs to the chickens, pigs, or other livestock, giving little thought about if we could have eaten it.
The fact is that Glass Gem Corn is edible, but it is not a Sweet Corn. As such, most folks aren’t going to enjoy eating it straight off the cob. Instead it is used as a popping corn or as a flour corn. Since the corn needs to be nearly fully dried for popping or for turning into flour these are still perfectly good uses of the corn for human consumption even after it has had its use as a decoration.
Talk about a dual use crop!
Growing Glass Gem Corn
We wanted to try our hand and growing this corn ourselves, so in 2015 we ordered a packet of seeds and planted them in our main garden. They produced fairly well (any lack of production I blame myself for, not the seed stock), but there was one anomaly I did not expect.
When growing Glass Gem Corn you expect, well… multicolored cob. It’s kind of the point, after all.
But 1 of the cobs we had was full of very distinctively purple kernels. This sparked the question…
What would happen if we planted kernels from this purple ear of corn? Would we get ALL purple ears in every stalk, or would the corn regress back to being multicolored?
This was a question that needed answering.
Container Gardening – Corn
Did you know it is even more fun if you conduct 2 experiments at once? Well, it is.
I have seen in several videos where gardeners and landscapers have used corn as a bit of an ornamental, growing it in large containers on patios and decks. Well, shoot, why not try that! I didn’t want to tie up a section of my garden with corn and putting the corn in a container ought to all but guarantee good pollination, right?
Well that is exactly what we did. We planted that 1 year of corn into a large bucket and fertilized it heavily with Organic Liquid Fish Fertilizer as well as Organic Pelleted Poultry Fertilizer. From there all we had to do is add water and sun — and wait.
Down the line we did decide to do a bit of thinning, as the corn did seem to be growing just a little too close together (nearly ever kernel turned out to be viable… and grew). Even further on we even added in a few Butter Bean seeds, doing 2 of the 3 crops used by Native Americans for the 3-Sisters Planting (Maize, Beans & Squash).
Glass Gem Corn Results
Our weather has been extremely hot and humid – even more so than it usually is for our area, which is saying something indeed! The corn didn’t get near the amount of water it should have and as such growth was stunted.
Also, shockingly to me, very little pollination took place. Perhaps this was in part because of the dry stale air, and part because of the plants dying back too quickly. Whatever the cause or causes, only 3 ears from 3 different stalks produced any real amount of kernels.
But you know what… they were all purple. There were different hues of purple and hints of other shades of color – but the predominate color in every kernel was certainly purple.
So, there you have it – selective breeding of Glass Gem Corn for specific colors! What would you grow? Ears of Emerald Green Corn, Cobs of Crimson Red Corn, Shucks of Silvery Gray Corn? Whatever you’d prefer, it would seem that you could go on and create your own subset of Glass Gem Corn, if you wanted to!
Thanks so much to Kaylan and Leigha who helped me with this experiment!
Be sure to Subscribe to our YouTube Channel if you want to see more random experiments we conduct. No matter what at least they’ll be cute kids to smile at!