Nearly all (98%) of commercial corn production is GMO nowadays. If you buy it, you are choosing to eat poison. And that poison is in every cereal product on store shelves nowadays, including baby foods.

growing heirloom corn


Growing heirloom corn can be fun to try. However, if there are any commercial corn = GMO fields nearby, your little patch will likely be the only safe-haven organic banquet for every bug in the neighborhood. I tried it in 2014. Of the few hundred corn plants, I only had a handful of ears that were relatively wholesome. All the rest was infested

Corn has separate male and female flowers. The male flowers form a pollen plume at the top of the stalk. The female flowers are located lower on the plant. Pollination happens by wind. Plant corn in a square plot, or in a rectangular plot with the longer side in the prevailing wind direction.  Planting corn in a narrow plot  perpendicular to the wind or in a container will result in poor pollination and incomplete ears.


Pic1: onions, young corn and squash plants  2015-05-29
Pic2: corn bugs 2014-07-17
Pic3: corn cobs 2014-07-21


Pic4: glass gem corn
Pic5: Tom Thumb = popcorn
Pic6: multi-colored heirloom varieties


Pic7: Bantam gold
Pic8: Aztec black
Pic9: Oaxacan green

the three sisters method


Corn, squash and beans are called the 3 sisters. According to (contemporary?) legends, the native Americans planted those 3 crops together as companion plants. The reasoning behind this is sensible. The corn gives the beans something to climb on. The beans give the corn the nitrogen it needs to grow. The squash ground cover keeps moisture in the ground and prevents weeds from growing.

Yet, the contemporary native American farmers I have observed don't use this method. Navajo corn fields in Canyon the Chelly and in the Grand Canyon area use dry-farming techniques for corn only and they plant ancient drought-tolerant flour-corn varieties that are very different from the contemporary commercial corn varieties.  (see Pic10-12 below)


Pic10: blue corn in planting hole
Pic11: young corn plants
Pic12: canyon farming

Scarlet runner beans and the ancient native melon/gourd varieties were also a lot more drought-tolerant than modern varieties. I'm thinking specifically of the buffalo melon aka stinking gourd that grows wild in the area, which can cover vast patches with no extra watering at all. The older native American cultivars were a lot closer to that wild melon than the modern varieties are.

The modern beans and squash require a lot of water to grow properly. They wouldn't do well in a dry-culture environment. I don't have any problems with water shortage. I can irrigate as much as I like. I don't need to limit myself to dry-culture. Yet, there are many other problems with the 3-sister system in the NM desert environment where I live.

In conclusion:

In 2015 I did try the  3-sisters method by planting corn, squash and beans together. (Pic1) Unfortunately, my garden was completely razed by a tornado in July and I never got to see the final results.



This is what you need:


Pic13-15: the three sisters (legend?)

Directions for the 3-sisters method

large garden: at least 30 ft. by 30 ft.

raw corn / corn on the cob


So you planted the corn and were successful in keeping them relatively pest-free.

corn smut

Corn smut is a plant disease caused by the pathogenic fungus Ustilago maydis that causes smut on maize and teosinte. The fungus forms galls on all above-ground parts of corn species.

It is edible, and is known in Mexico as the delicacy huitlacoche, which is eaten, usually as a filling, in quesadillas and other tortilla-based foods, and soups. In the US it is usually considered a plague and eradicated.