Saturday, July 21, 2012

corn, corn

America's corn crop is withering across the corn belt and temperature records are falling like dominoes. (In the latter category, my candidate for most symbolic is Death Valley's night-time low temperature of 107 degrees on July 12-13 - the warmest low temperature for a 24-hour period ever recorded anywhere on earth.) 64% of the continental US is officially in drought, and the intensity and breadth of the drought continues to grow. It is what one hopes will be an "oh, shit" wake-up moment for the planet. The link is to Bill McKibben's cover story in this week's Rolling Stone. Read it, share it, act on it.

Our high temperature for July 13 was 92, 15 degrees lower than Death Valley's low, continuing the summer's pattern of very plant-friendly temperatures locally. It shows in our floriani corn, now 9 feet tall and forming ears. In this photo it's a wall of green behind one of hundreds of oil-seed sunflowers that are also thriving.
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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

floriani corn

The Floriani corn is at 7' tall and still climbing aggressively. It has started to tassle but is not yet showing ear development. I'm betting on an ultimate 9' height.

Floriani is a flint corn variety, used for making polenta, masa, and corn meal. All the kernels are red, yielding a nice mottled red-yellow polenta.

The story told is that Floriani went early from the New World to Italy and was found recently on a small farm in northern Italy. Somehow it survived the great loss of plant diversity that occurred there, as here, as a result of the increasing concentration on a few commercial species in the 1960s and 1970s. Floriani was rescued by Community Grains, a project of Oliveto Restaurant's Bob Klein. With permission (thank you, Bob!) I snagged a couple of ears at an event last August.

If we get a successful crop - which is looking increasing likely but may require hand-to-hand combat with the raccoons in August! - it's bound for Sacramento's wonderful Magpie Caterers Market and Cafe.