Friday, September 6, 2019

Plants in Early American Gardens - Mandan Red Clay Corn

Mandan Red Clay Corn (Zea mays cv.)

Thomas Jefferson grew “Mandan Corn” in 1807, from seeds sent by Lewis and Clark who lived near the tribe for six months in the winter of 1805. The growing season in North Dakota is short, from June to September, and corn is planted when the gooseberry leafs out. The Mandan style is like a checkerboard, with a hill of two corn plants 4 feet apart, beans between them, and squash edging one family’s plot from the other. Mandan Red Clay Corn plants reach only 4’ high, with multiple “tillers,” or secondary stalks, which form a bush. Also called Lavender Parching Mandan Corn, this beautiful variety bears 6-8” ears; it can be ground into flour and cornmeal, and the kernels can be “parched,” or roasted in a dry skillet.

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