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Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v04n16)
Right in my Own Backyard - Ode to Summer - by Brandt Carter
posted: Aug. 10, 2007

Right in my Own Backyard header

Ode to Summer

Gardens have always been well planned in the houses where I have lived. Flower gardens were in the front yard while vegetable gardens and fruit trees were in the back. There is something about a tomato plant or a corn stalk that doesn't decorate a front doorway the same as a potted geranium or viburnum.
However, corn and tomatoes are Indiana's two most perfect veggies. Together, they constitute an ode to summer. In my estimation, they epitomize summer eating. Indiana corn arrives in many forms: sweet corn on the cob , field corn (dent) for livestock, seed corn for next year's crop, ornamental Indian corn (multi-hued flint corn), flour corn (blue or white) and popcorn (a type of flint corn).
I remember the summer we planted Indian corn in our garden, thinking it would be interesting for my young son to see how Indian corn grew. We had a bumper crop - eight rows - and what surprises were revealed in the harvesting. Shucking each ear was almost as much fun as unwrapping birthday presents. Each ear had its own unique coloration, kernels in shades of yellow, cream and gold to orange, purple and burgundy. We had so many ears that, instead of a summer lemonade stand, he got to have an Indian corn stand. Thus was born his first venture in capitalism, and he was a success!
Nowadays, we consume the sweet corn from the corner vegetable stand, even freezing a dozen ears for a winter meal. And at the store, we offer ear corn for squirrels, cracked corn for ducks and birds and, of all things, whole corn to stuff the bags for corn hole games.
Singing the praises of tomatoes will fill another column someday. Meanwhile, I can't resist heralding the wayward tomato springing up from last year's compost pile. It has a way of tickling my funny bone every bit as much as the corn stalk or sunflower growing in unexpected places from the spilled birdseed. Sometimes our favorite vegetables return to our backyard − unplanned and unpredicted.

Brandt Carter, artist, herbalist, and naturalist, owns Backyard Birds at 2374 E. 54th Street. Visit her web site Email your bird questions to
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Brought to you by: Broad Ripple collector pins
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