Foraging for your Bedding: Corn Husks

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Corn Husk PillowOne of many things summer means is corn – fresh, hot, buttery corn. But as I was reading of basic mattress and pillow fills that our ancestors used to use, I realized there could be more to the corn plant than just its kernels. What about the husks? My guess is that tree leaves also would work for stuffing, but husks must be stronger than a standard tree leaf, so I collected cornhusks.

Some husks I dried in my basement and some on my deck. In the second picture, you can see the sun bleached the deck ones while the basement let the green color remain. I collected the husks from about 30 ears of corn. I spread each batch out to dry after the kids husked the corn for dinner. The leaves took about 25 hours to dry out on the deck.

Stuffing the pillow was simple. Sleeping on it was the real test. At first glance, it was rather lumpy, so I folded a towel in half and slept on two layers of towel on top of the pillow. The noise was the first apparent difficulty, but as I was quite tired from unpacking boxes all day, I fell asleep easily.

With the lumps not an issue and the noise not too bothersome, the next dilemma was the compression. Halfway through the first night, the pillow flattened out, loosing maybe 2″ from the beginning of the night. To be fair, I had only stuffed it loosely and dry husks crinkle up in distorted shapes to take out a bit more room than they would have if they were fresh. Since I did not want to make this a permanent pillow, instead of drying more husks and filling it up more, I put a thin pillow underneath it and slept on both the next night. Those few nights experience was enough. Then I went back to my wool pillow, which is soft and not noisy at all.

Pros:

  • Ability to adjust fill amount to get desired height
  • Fresh smell of hay
  • Readily available, at least seasonally

Cons:

  • Would have to be firm to get enough husks in the case to give the form any height
  • Would make a nice home for bed bugs
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