Corn in flower

Corn in flower

Corn in flower is a beauty to behold until it becomes blase; which it should not. This is probably the largest source of food on planet Earth.

It is a view we just love; corn on the cob every day for three months is just around the corner. And hopefully succotash too, if the lima beans will ripen in time; they have a very long growing-season.

It feeds a lot of farmyard animals and many humans too; oddly I prefer other varieties to sweet corn.

Midsummer means corn in flower; it is one of the highlights of our gardening programme.

This page was last updated by Bernard Preston on 22nd February, 2020.

Corn, or maize as we call it, is in some disrepute as a food high in starch, allegedly fattening and to be avoided, but we love it.

In the context of wholesome food, I never put on weight even after months of enjoying corn on the cob every day. It is refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta and rice, that make us fat. Then the sugar, cakes and cookies add their bit.

Highly refined maize-meal, a staple in South Africa, is another reason why obesity reigns in our land. It is the corn's equivalent of cake flour.

But, if you suspect you are insulin resistant, then it is a good idea to test your blood sugar thirty minutes and one hour after a meal of corn; it is a simple, inexpensive finger-prick if you know someone with a glucometer.

Over ten percent of the West is now diabetic, so there must be someone around the corner.

Elsewhere in the world it is mostly refined wheat flour that is the cause of so much suffering. We see it everyday at the clinic; painful hips, knees and feet from obesity and folk suffering from polymyalgia. If you have a love-affair with crackers and crisps, chocolate cake and bagels, then beware.

At the medic's office it means high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and diabetes.

Refined starches are what keep us quacks in business. Cut out the refined wheat and corn, and avoid sugar, and you will be astonished how much healthier you will feel.

And even there, brown rice is a wonderful food, just as 100 percent wheat-flour is. So we unashamedly enjoy our corn on the cob; and our low GI bread.

Today, the end of the second week in January we enjoyed our first four cobs; it has been a long time since I planted them in spring, but so worth the wait.

And now two months later, we are half way through the crop; there is little sign of fall armyworm thanks to the hens. They too get three or four cobs a day.

There is no sign of Stealth today, our age-old fiend, the vervet monkey, though; given a chance he will cause havoc. Yesterday he took half a dozen cobs.

Corn in flower

Corn in flower boggles the mind; each of those tassels ends in one pip; in the summer garden you can see a shower of pollen raining down on those stamens. It is all about fertilisation.

I have enjoyed watching several different species of birds, most commonly the weavers, feasting on the pollen this summer.

They help with the pollination by spreading it far and wide.

Corn like most vegetables, the exception being the butternut family, lose their flavour very quickly after being reaped.

Old corn is deadly dull, and nutritionally far less protective against disease, but straight from the summer garden to the pot, it is one of the highlights of every lunch in our green home; like bread we never tire of it.

Be assured, 100 percent wholewheat bread and fresh corn on the cob, if you can get them, are not the cause of your obesity. Learn about the meaning of the term glycemic index, and apply it to your meals, and you can delete that dirty four-letter word diet from your vocabulary. It is the refined starches that do the damage.

Interestingly folk living in the Blue Zones of the world never go on diet and do not step out and exercise; they have so ordered their lives that there is no need.

Drop your cobs into a little boiling water, cover with a lid and turn up the heat and they will be done in about five minutes; when you can smell them, then they are cooked.


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According to Harvard, the glycemic index of sweet corn on the cob is only 48. That is low; it is not fattening. Our white maize will be even less.

Surprisingly adding a little butter lowers the glycemic index even further.

Once you see corn in flower, it will be only a few weeks until you can start to enjoy this excellent food as often as you like.

It is particularly rich in a phytochemical called zeaxanthin that is found in very high concentration in the macula of the eye; together with the lutein in dark green leafy vegetables, they will prevent you from getting macular degeneration, the leading cause of adult onset blindness.

Enjoy the fruit of your corn in flower. It is very wholesome; and delicious provided it is picked young and cooked within a few hours. It is our ambition to eat a mealie a day for much of the summer.

We prefer to cook it within fifteen minutes of reaping the cobs.

One does not need a vegetable garden trellis for corn; the plants are very well anchored in the ground. However we like to grow climbing beans and limas near our maize for the nitrogen they fix in the soil.

Corn and beans are a staple. Growing lima beans means we can enjoy succotash every year. I like to toss in a jalapeno to spice it up a bit.

This is our quick succotash recipe.

Quick succotash recipe with corn and lima beans.
  1. Bernard Preston
  2. Meaning of starch
  3. Corn in flower

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56 Groenekloof Rd,

Hilton, KZN

South Africa