Secrets to Growing Corn Successfully - It's Easy If You Take Care Of A Few Details

Growing corn! I don't care what you grow in your garden, nothing can beat a freshly picked cob of sweet-corn.


End of discussion. :-)

Summer Heaven

The recipe for summer heaven is a cob that is picked and is no more than a minute from the stalk to the pot (full of boiling water) so all the sugars and sweetness are preserved.

Slather it with butter and salt and taste-bud heaven awaits.

corn leaves

Nothing tastes quite as good as fresh corn

Greedy Feeder

Please understand that this plant is a greedy feeder so extra helpings of compost and organic type fertilizers (I really like the extra nitrogen in fish emulsion) will help to grow big tall plants.

The nice thing about this plant is you can grow it in almost any kind of soil – from sand to clay – so there's no reason why it shouldn't be on your garden list. Although a well-drained, organic soil will give you the best results. Mind you, it does take up a lot of space for a small harvest but that's the price you pay for mind-numbing sweetness in your summer diet.

Planting Corn

You're going to plant your seed about a half inch deep (no more) and approximately six inches apart for the early varieties and 8 to 10 inches apart for the bigger, later varieties.

A row should be approximately 10 feet long at a minimum and you'll require 4 rows so the plants will cross pollinate and give you kernels to eat. Rows should be 24 to 30 inches apart. If you plant your corn in a single row, expect to get missing kernels or misshapen cobs (or both).

No Visible Seed

And never leave a corn seed showing in the row. If you do, a bird or beast will find it. And then they figure out that where's there's one, there has to be more. Your corn seed becomes their dinner and you can't figure out why it didn't germinate. (hard for a seed to germinate when it has been dinner two weeks ago)

An ounce of seed will sow approximately 50 feet of row so the minimum of growing corn seed you should consider planting will be an ounce. (4 rows of ten feet each)

Cob Shape

Although this is a tough plant, weather conditions really do influence the size and shape of the cob. Cold nights in late June will make your cob quite short for example. But like all things in the garden, there's little you can do so just understand that sometimes you'll get long cobs and some years you'll get the short guys. Growing corn is a bit of a gamble that way!

Many commercial seeds are treated with fungicides such as captan to prevent seed rotting. Untreated seed should only be planted when the ground is up to 65F and that's around the beginning of June in the average year in zone 4. If you plant after the first week of June, most corn varieties will catch up to the earlier planted ones because they are getting a warm start and don't have to struggle.

Sometimes there are small cobs produced on the bottom of the plant. Do not harvest these or remove them – that will apparently slow down the growth rate of the main crop of rapidly growing corn cobs.

Book cover Vegetable Gardening

Corn Damage

Bird damage can be stopped by putting small paper bags over the cobs as they mature.

Borer or ear worm can be controlled by applying a mineral or horticultural oil to the silks.

I have no idea how to stop porcupine damage other than an electric fence (looks like a bulldozer went through the patch) or raccoon damage (other than by trapping out the beasts). I can now tell them apart – porcupines lean against the stalks and knock them down to eat the corn while raccoons can break the stalks or simply reach up to harvest the cobs without knocking over the stalks.

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