Appalachian Food Gardening

The First Corn from the Garden


We ate the first fresh corn of the year last night for supper. It was so good! It didn’t come from our garden, it came from Tim’s garden down the road.

Tim grows the same variety we always did Silver Queen.

I’ve told you we don’t really have a place to grow corn here. There’s not enough room nor enough sunshine. The handful of kernels we planted this year look like pigmy corn. They’re barely thigh high and already tasseling. It’s doubtful we’ll even get one ear from them.

I miss the days of growing corn in Pap’s big garden. I’ve always thought a cornfield was one of the most magical places on earth. I used to wander in Pap’s and look at the beautiful morning glory blooms while listening to the symphony of bees visiting the tasseling corn.

Here’s a video I made a long time ago in Pap’s corn patch. The quality ain’t all that great but you can sure hear the bees working.

When we were little Paul and I would shed our shoes during the summer months. It was common for one of us or sometimes both of us to be sporting a swelled foot from stepping on honey bees while playing in the yard.

Even with my multiple stings of summer I never became afraid of bees. One of my younger cousins, Maria, was terrified of bees. When we’d play by Mamaw and Papaw’s old garden site I’d find a cuckle bur and stick it on her back or in her hair and she’d run around like someone was killing her thinking it was a bee. Kinda sounds mean now. But she knew I loved her.

You can find all kinds of recipes for corn—from puddings to casseroles. But our favorite way to eat fresh Silver Queen is on the cob. We get a pot of water boiling and drop the ears in, it only takes about three minutes for them to cook to perfection.


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  • Reply
    July 23, 2021 at 5:58 pm

    This year, though I love Silver Queen, I am trying a new seed called Sugar Pearl, because of the shorter time to mature. I hope it produces well. I’ve tried many varieties – maybe I am too hard to please. Our summers get so hot in August and often I get dry, small kernels. Nothing beats the taste of fresh corn. My parents always used Stowell’s Evergreen and Country Gentleman. To prevent having to fool with all the silks, I cut the tip off the shuck but not down to the corn cob itself. I pull off some of the outer shuck, bring a kettle of water to a hard boil, drop in the ears, put on a lid and leave them 5-6 minutes. Then turn off the heat, take the ears out of the water and put into your sink. When they have drained and cooled enough to handle (about 15 minutes) grasp the silks with the shucks and they pull right off. You don’t have to brush them at all. If they don’t come off, next time boil them a little longer. For just myself, I wrap an ear in a damp paper towel and put it in the microwave for 4 minutes.

  • Reply
    July 21, 2021 at 1:26 pm

    We didn’t put corn out this yr. My husband parents did. We went ahead and bought corn to put up. I would love to put more up but I have ran out of room. I love corn on the cob. The 91 yr old man I fix supper for every day, I brought him some corn on the cob and when he seen it he’s like hey corn on the cob. He smiled real big. It was peaches and cream.

  • Reply
    July 20, 2021 at 8:30 pm

    When my uncle by marriage was alive, he always planted Silver Queen corn, and it was so good.

  • Reply
    July 20, 2021 at 4:46 pm

    I swear there’s nothing like that first fresh corn in the summer. Picking and shucking it is a pain in the neck, but it’s so worth it.

  • Reply
    July 20, 2021 at 2:11 pm

    Silver Queen corn is so good ….the video is lovely… a field of standing corn is bee- utiful to see …bees -what a purpose they have … although we’ve stepped on our share through the years …(oh that sting ) and we’d put a glob of wet baking soda on the spot, getting stung never stopped me from going barefooted but I did try to look out for them awhile after . Where would we bee , without them

  • Reply
    Jane ODell
    July 20, 2021 at 1:25 pm

    I love reading your posts because you always make me think of my growing up years in NC. My granddaddy used to have a garden every year and besides everybody having too help with the garden, specifics I remember were that he grew Silver Queen corn, Blue Lakes green beans, German Johnson tomatoes and I loved eating things from his garden. He also grew other things that I didn’t care for as much…cucumbers (altho’ I loved the pickles my grandparents made). He also grew straight-necked squash (yummy fried!) which my mom always sliced long-ways and we teased that they were fish. He also grew peppers (bell and hot) that I didn’t care for at all. He grew okra that I hated working in because it was so itchy to work with, but I did love eating fried okra! My grandmother had fig bushes and pear trees from which she always made preserves as well as fig pickles (sweet and yummy). What a blessing to grow up with such great memories and experiences! My other grandmother had apple trees with little apples that were great as fried apples with her mashed potatoes, lima beans, fat back, corn on the cob her big old cat-head biscuits with homemade butter and a slice of tomato with a dot of Duke’s mayonnaise on it. Mmm… Oh….I am so hungry now. We’re going to have fresh veggies for supper! ❤️from SC

  • Reply
    July 20, 2021 at 11:55 am

    I picked up just two ears of fresh corn at the grocery store and fixed one that night for my supper. Because it was just me eating, I wrapped one ear in wet paper towel, placed in microwave for 3 1/2 minutes. It comes out steaming and cooked to perfection. The husk and silk just slide off. With the family, I always boiled a pot of water and placed my husked and cleaned ears of corn in and it was most delicious too. For one person though, the microwave does a beautiful job.
    Here in south central PA the corn fields are absolutely beautiful! With the rolling hills it is a site to behold. Someone told me that you want to get the corn as soon as it is picked . I just know this first pick of corn i ate was delicious.

  • Reply
    Kat Swanson
    July 20, 2021 at 11:53 am

    I love corn on the cob…always helped Daddy plant it…he’d make the row. …I’d walk behind him and drop 3 seed corn every 3 little girl steps , my little brother would drop the half runner beans in same shallow trench. Then my big brother would walk behind with his hoe and cover the row. We repeated this all around the slope of our hillside garden in the VA. coalfields where Daddy mined coal all day, and worked his garden in the evenings. Everyone helped.
    When I got older and taller ,I later loved to use my Papaws corn planter…a great invention you’d jam in the ground, open the two sided handles, and a few grains of seed would magically fall in your row! When the corn grew tall, I would hide from my brothers there. I also remember my arms being cut by the corn if I ran through the patch .
    Sometimes it was just me and Daddy planting corn. I remember that at times, the crows were flying down right behind my planting. Daddy accused me of feeding them because these birds were often near me when I was in the fields. In fact, they still follow me if I’m outside. My mamaw said it was my black eyes that drew them to me.
    We went barefoot and I got stung as did my 4 ugly brothers. One of the boys would pull the stinger out as I sat crying. I developed an allergy to bees…now must carry the expensive epi pen and wear long pants, tight at the ankles, socks pulled over them and a long sleeve shirt and hat with net around it. When you have this allergy, it changes how you must go in the world….makes you scared to be outside this time of year.
    My papaw and uncle kept beehives and when these men died, the family went to the hives and told their bees. That way the bees did not leave. Our odd ways and customs run deep in Appalachia.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    July 20, 2021 at 11:42 am

    Mama always planted Golden Queen & I still prefer yellow corn. We have planted Ambrosia last year & this year and it produced an amazing amount last year. Even this year when we got some bad dirt dumped in part of our garden & the rain was like a monsoon, it produced more than I expected. Even the pitiful short plants will have an ear or two–they are little but still they’re corn. It is very sweet & delicious. I’m like Miss Cindy–can easily devour four ears.

    I well remember the bee stings in the clover in the yard. Usually on the tender arch of our feet. My baby brother would really have a swollen foot. Remember how it itched as they healed?

  • Reply
    Melissa P. (Misplaced Southerner)
    July 20, 2021 at 10:48 am

    I remember Mom Hyatt’s garden in Waynesville. It was HUGE and I loved to visit it in the summers. She grew everything – Corn, tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, squash, beets, okra, melons, several kinds of berries (and probably so much more I don’t remember). She grew so much that she would barter with the hog farmer and the chicken farmer for bacon (and other piggy treats), eggs, and chicken. My favorite was to just go sit in the rows of tomatoes and pick them off warm and just eat them warm off the vine. (Oh, BTW, I make my corn in the microwave. Pull some – not all – of the outside husk off and microwave for about 3 minutes, The tassels slide right off with the rest of the husks and you don’t lose any of the vitamins to the boiling water.)

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 20, 2021 at 10:12 am

    The bears and coons won’t touch my corn. It’s too wormy for them!

  • Reply
    July 20, 2021 at 9:37 am

    I am going to ask a sex question. I know the bees help pollinate plants. I watched a tv show called Post Cards From Nebraska and one of the shows showed high school students being picked up in towns by school bus and taken to the farms to work. Their job was to work in the corn fields pulling the tassels off the corn stalks. I always thought the tassel was the male and the silk on the ear was the female and particles from tassel would fall on the silk. This was how the corn was produced. I have wondered since watching this how the stalks produced corn.

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      July 20, 2021 at 11:15 am

      Corn had both male and female parts. The tassel (the male part) produces pollen which has to fall or be carried by insects to the silks (the female part) on the ear before the ear will fill out. Each silk it attached to one egg ( for lack of a better word) on the cob. Each silk has to have a grain of pollen for the eggs to fill out and become a grain of corn.
      I think they take the pollen from those tassels the kids are gathering to another field and put it on the silks of another kind of corn to create a hybrid which most sweet corn nowdays is. The peaches and cream some people are talking about is an example. It is a golden corn that is crossed with a silver corn. Hybridization is not the same as GMO. Hybridization occurs in nature. In your own garden. Bees are cross pollinators. They don’t know it but they are.

      • Reply
        Donald Wells
        July 20, 2021 at 2:27 pm

        I remember plowing up a small field one year for watermelons and cantaloupes,and the little honey bees sure performed their duty of pollination very well.The flesh inside of my sugar baby watermelons,looked and taste much like a Experience is a great teacher.

  • Reply
    July 20, 2021 at 9:11 am

    The farmer who leases my land alternates between soybeans and corn. This is his year for corn. The deer and coons always have a feast while they nearly destroy his crop but end up leaving my few rows of Silver Queen alone. The few ears I pulled last weekend were not quiet ready but still delicious with my green beans and corn bread.

  • Reply
    Margie G
    July 20, 2021 at 9:06 am

    One certainly could hear the happy bees buzzing in the corn. I’m glad you got to enjoy fresh, delicious corn. Ever since Monsanto took control of corn with GMO ( genetically modified organism) corn has not the same appeal for me. If they catch you growing non GMO it’s a crime. Ask the 80 year old farmer who lost his farm over a several million dollar lawsuit because he wanted to grow heirloom corn. Wake up folks. This is about control as I’m only trying to get the truth out.

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      July 20, 2021 at 10:52 am

      If it would ease your mind some most sweet corn, the kind we are talking about here today, is not genetically modified. Field corn, on the other hand, is 90% GMO. That’s is the kind of corn grown on factory farms. Most of it is used in animal feed and ethanol or is shipped overseas to feed people in countries that are too overpopulated to survive on the land they live on.
      As bad as GMO is it is keeping half the world’s population from starving to death.

      If you are unlucky enough to live close to one of those huge GMO cornfields in which the corn is tasseling when your sweet corn is, the pollen from the GMO corn could by wind or by bees make it into your corn. It won’t effect your corn that year but the seed will be a cross between your sweet corn and the GMO corn.

  • Reply
    Kimberly Moore
    July 20, 2021 at 9:00 am

    Dad grew Silver Queen in Va. and it was divine. Some days he’d tell us we needed to work an hour out in the garden. I’d heard that taking to plants helped them grow so I went out and put in my hour talking to the corn. I got away with that twice.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    July 20, 2021 at 8:57 am

    We have Peaches & Cream and have been eating and freezing it. It all came in at once so we have a push to get it worked up. Very hard rain here last night and I dread going to see if a lot of it is on the ground.

    What you said about stepping on bes made me think. We went barefoot all summer to and though there was clover and bees in the yard I do not recall ever being stung. I must have been though. I did get stung once catching bees off the clover bloom in my cupped hands. I mashed the poor little thing accidentally and she stung me.

    It is not imagination that there are fewer bees. They have had a lot of troubles in the last 50 years or so. Beeskeepers now have to be bee doctors to.

    I read somewhere once that an Indian name for bees was “white man’s fly” because the two tended to appear at nearly the same time.

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    July 20, 2021 at 8:54 am

    Our corn is not quite ready to pick yet. We planted 10 rows of Serendipity. It is bi color and the sweetest corn we ever tasted. Our son took a pic a few weeks ago from his drone of our garden. The corn patch looked so neat! What we don’t eat, we cut off the cob and freeze. We used to go across the river to Ohio and buy our corn from a farmer, but we grow it now. Here is a link to how I put mine up in the freezer.

  • Reply
    July 20, 2021 at 8:54 am

    Fresh corn is hard to beat. My mother in law’s cream corn was the best I have every ate. It would even taste fresh after being froze. I have ate her corn for dessert. I am sorta like Tipper’s cousin, I don’t panic around bees but I do show them more respect than I do for anything else. I had to get rid of yellow jacket nest under a shed last week. I think this comes from the run ins I have had with yellow jackets while plowing or bushing hogging on tractors without cabs. You are trying to stop tractor and get away at the same time while the bees are tearing you up. Most of the time a yellow jacket nest will be in the ground , so you don’t know anything about it until you are being stung by a cloud of bees.

  • Reply
    Donald Wells
    July 20, 2021 at 8:42 am

    Here in East Tennessee, seems it’s been a good season for a hearty corn of crop. Wife and I put our corn(peaches and cream)in the freezer last week, and have had plenty to share with family and friends. Doing a little reading on our Pioneer Ancestors, corn was definitely a staple crop for them. With a good crop of corn the family and livestock had plenty to eat to survive, and corn could be traded and sold for gain. Without the crop of corn, times could get pretty rough.

  • Reply
    Larry Paul Eddings
    July 20, 2021 at 8:10 am

    We’ve been eating a lot of the peaches&cream variety this year. Good fresh corn on the cob is a real treat, and I absolutely love fried corn.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 20, 2021 at 8:06 am

    I had my first corn of the season last night also from Tim’s. I sure enjoyed it…ate four ears! He sure grows good corn! I always look forward to the first corn of the season, it’s somehow special and last night’s corn was wonderful. When I go to the gym or to town I drive by Tim’s garden and I’m always in awe of his garden, it’s beautiful with corn and green beans! His garden is always so tidy and in front of it is his blueberry bushes and apple trees….reminds me of my grandmother’s garden,

  • Reply
    July 20, 2021 at 7:59 am

    JIMK, our family began picking corn for the season with the same method. As a child, I hated the gnats and every flying bug I encountered in the corn, especially very tall corn that seemed to envelop me. We planted corn with varied maturing dates so we enjoyed fresh corn throughout summer. We froze as much as we could and felt like royalty when we had a huge bowl of hot buttery corn at Christmas dinner. Sometimes, even at the following Easter.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    July 20, 2021 at 7:52 am

    The first silver queen of the year is always something I look forward to each year. I remember the bee stings on my bare feet every summer. It amazes me to remember how far I could hop on one foot. If memory serves me right my Mother put turpentine on it to take out the sting.

  • Reply
    July 20, 2021 at 7:39 am

    Is that a beehive at the edge of the field on the left side of the video? You can see it a couple of times off in the distance.

    • Reply
      July 20, 2021 at 8:33 am

      Evan-no, but I sure wish I had bees 🙂

  • Reply
    Patricia Price
    July 20, 2021 at 7:36 am

    My grandmother grew corn. I also loved walking down the rows with her when I was little. I was just talking with someone the other day about how there were so many honeybees in the clover in the backyard when I was little, but I do not see them today, although the rose of Sharon outside my kitchen was full of bees yesterday. Nowadays when I see cornfields I think of my favorite movie, Field of Dreams.

  • Reply
    July 20, 2021 at 6:16 am

    We too picked our corn this week, mainly because the coons had decided it was muture enough to eat.
    I had it in the truck bed Sunday night expecting to work it up for the freezer yesterday, but when I went to get it I found a bear had decide to sample it ( about a third). We still put up 3 dozen ears. That’s what happens when your land borders the Cherokee National Forest. I switched from silver queen to honey select, which I really like.

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