The Swiss Homestead Culinary and Medicinal Garden features herbs, vegetables, and fruits that one might typically find grown in Ohio in the 1840s-1860s by a family of Swiss heritage. The garden would have supplied the household with food, seasonings, and the equivalent of our over-the-counter products for what ailed them.
Swiss Garden Journal Entry, 9.25.13
Things are winding down in the garden, and we’re prepping it for our big Fall Harvest Day on Saturday, September 28. More ground cherries were harvested, and we planted some lettuce and kale for one last crop of greens before winter. The bean plants were pulled up and we separated dried bean pods from the plants. The bean seeds will be shelled and dried for use later this fall and winter in stews and soups.
While working in the garden: Dent vs. Flint corn
Pat, the head gardener and Dick, the grounds caretaker made a corn shock from the stalks of corn. We had an interesting conversation about dent and flint corn while they worked. Here’s a quick recap:
Old time field corn was either dent or flint , and colored either red, white or yellow. This year we planted Bloody Butcher corn which is a type of red dent corn. You can tell it’s dent because the top of each kernel has a dent in it. Flint corn‘s top is rounded like kernels of popcorn and Indian corn.
Dent corn was typically used as animal feed. In 1840s this corn would also have been ground into cornmeal and used for making food like Johnny cakes for the family. It would make a fine texture cornmeal suitable for baking.
Flint corn is harder than dent corn so it takes more to grind it into flour than dent corn. It makes a coarser flour that isn’t ideal for baking. White flint corn was used for people food—scrapple and grits. Yellow flint corn was referred to as pig corn since it was primarily used as feed for hogs.
Making corn shocks was a way to store corn for fodder to feed cattle in the winter. Dick remembers making corn shocks as a kid. The method he used was to leave four stalks rooted in the ground. These were pulled together to form the base on which to build the shock. Other stalks were cut and leaned against the base stalks until a good size shock was formed. We used a stake as the base to form the shock, then added more cut stalks and tied them in a bundle.
At one time field corn and pumpkin seeds were combined and sown together in the same field. This allowed for a more efficient use of the field in that feed for both cattle and hogs were grown simultaneously.
Dick also shared details about corn husking parties. Neighbors would gather to help with husking field corn. The first young man to find and husk a red ear won the privilege of kissing the girl of his choice.