Planting Corn, How to Grow Corn, Growing Sweet Corn
The best tips for planting corn in backyard vegetable gardens. Learn easy ways to plant, care for, and harvest sweet corn in your own garden. Use succession planting to extend the harvest season when growing sweet corn.
An old farmer's saying is to plant corn when oak leaves are as large as a squirrel's ear. In many areas, this makes the ideal time for planting corn in late April, counting on favorable weather conditions in early May!
How to Grow Corn
As a precaution against chilly nights, keep a bit of hay on hand to cover the seedlings if frost is predicted.
A frost will not affect seeds planted in the ground but will kill seedlings. Hay laid around the plants is also good mulch in dry periods as it conserves moisture in the soil.
For an early crop, plant seeds indoors three weeks before planting corn outdoors.
Seeds germinate in 7 to 10 days. Soak seeds overnight to speed the process.
Sow early varieties in the vegetable garden two weeks after the last frost.
When transplanting corn seedlings, be especially careful not to disturb the long tap root of the little plant.
Many gardeners don't attempt to transplant corn because it isn't easy to transplant successfully.
Transplants should be planted in the cool of the evening, and should be watered every day for one week to make sure they survive the move.
Corn prefers loose, well-drained loam but will adapt to most soil types. The pH range should be 6.0 to 6.8.
The crop is a heavy feeder that needs high levels of phosphorous and nitrogen and a moderate amount of potassium.
Corn plants benefit from mulching since they have shallow roots. A critical time for watering is during tasseling.
Plant Corn in Blocks Rather than a Long Row
Plant four or more adjacent rows rather than a long, single row of corn for better pollination which increases production.
The soil must be warm when planting corn.
Although, the plants take up a lot of vegetable gardening space, sweet corn freshly picked and boiled for 8 steamy minutes will be well worth giving up the prime garden real estate!
If you have room in your garden, it is easier planting corn successively, than to transplant corn seedlings.
Sow additional rows of corn every two weeks during the planting season to extend your corn harvest.
If you are planning on freezing corn from your garden, it is best to have a large block of corn ripen at the same time.
It is easier to pick, husk, blanch, remove kernels, and freeze all in one day, than to spread the mess out over several weeks!
Freezing corn is well worth the effort, as nothing is quite as delicious as fresh frozen home-grown corn. But is does create a sticky mess in the kitchen when in process.
Favorite Varieties of Sweet Corn
Golden Kandy sweet corn is ready to be harvested in 85 days. The tender variety carries the EH genetic factor that gives the crop extra sweetness and holds the tenderness on the stalk over 2 weeks. The plant has exceptionally high rates of germination and yields.
Planting corn favorite jubilee sweet corn is ripe for picking in 80 days. This early-midseason all purpose variety is ideal for roasting, freezing, or canning.
The high yielding plant produces 10 inch ears that retain their quality longer than most sweet corn after being picked.
Vegetable Gardening Tips for Growing Sweet Corn
Planting corn with pumpkins and squash around the corn bed helps to deter pests such as raccoons. The animals are deterred by the prickly stems and leave the sweet corn alone.
Insect pests that love corn plants, include earworms, European corn borers, Japanese beetles, and cucumber beetles.
There are several ways to tell when your sweet corn is ripe for picking: the corn silks will be completely brown and the ears should feel firm and plump.
If the ears feel a little hollow and soft, the kernels have not filled in yet. If you are still unsure, take a peek to see if the ear is totally filled in and the kernels are full sized. Although peeking sacrifices the section of the ear that is exposed.
Pick ears when kernels are well rounded and yield milky juice when punctured with your thumbnail.