Who doesn’t love biting into a fresh ear of corn with butter and salt and pepper, or the aroma of fresh-baked cornbread coming out of the oven? Today we’re going to expose some tips for growing corn.
The most popular choice for home gardens is of course sweet corn. This is a type you’ll grow if you want corn on the cob or fresh corn kernels.
Sweet corn varieties come in white yellow or bicolor. Flint corn and dent corn come in a wide variety of colors and can be used as autumn decorations before processing them for meal, flour, polenta or hominy. Popcorn is another fun choice; grow your own traditional yellow or multicolored corn for popping.
How to plant corn seeds
No matter what kind of corn you want to grow it’s all planted the same way.
Direct seed your corn two weeks after the last frost date. Your soil temperature needs to be 60 degrees in order for the corn to germinate. Soak the seeds overnight and you’ll get faster germination.
Plant them at a depth of one inch with two to three seeds per hole. And if you would like to use a mechanical tiller between rows you can increase that space to 36 inches but maintain 1-foot spacing within rows. If you plant a little more densely you can thin to about 1 foot between stalks.
The next step is to make sure that you have adequate even watering. Right after we planted the corn, I laid down the drip tape. Drip is the best way to irrigate your corn. It prevents sprinkler knockdown of the stalks.
You might also plant multiple varieties with different lengths of time until harvest so that you can enjoy an extended season of fresh corn. If you have enough space you can plant multiple varieties all in the same bed unless you are saving the seed from your harvest for next year’s planting.
Tips to success with corn
Corn does not transplant well but if the season is so short that you must start it indoors, plant in biodegradable pots to avoid disturbing the roots when transplanting.
A better solution is to help the soil warm faster before seeding outdoors, by using black mulch in your garden beds. This will heat the soil faster.
Corn requires full Sun because it grows so tall and dense. Consider what you will be planting nearby which may be affected by the shade that it makes.
Prepare your garden bed for planting by adding plenty of organic matter. Corn is a heavy feeder that needs high nitrogen fertilizer such as Alfalfa or Blood Meal or Cottonseed Meal. Another excellent way to fertilize your corn is to plant a legume cover crop in the fall and turn it under a few weeks before planting the corn.
Corn requires being planted in a cluster for adequate pollination. Instead of planting one long row you should plan on planting a patch of at least three closely spaced short rows. You will need at least 16 square feet if you plant at the densest spacing possible which is one foot between stalks.
Caring for corn:
Corn is a very heavy feeder, and needy in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Wherever you plant it, corn needs supplemental nitrogen throughout the growing season. For this, I fertilize my corn with Bio Fish which is rich in nitrogen.
It’s important to maintain your little corn bed and keep it free of weeds. You want to give them as much room without weed penetration as possible. I’m mulching with Mega Mulch and I’m putting it down pretty thick.
Corn earworms, corn borers and other caterpillars can get inside of your ears of corn and do a little bit of damage. If you put a clothespin right on the corn ear just below the silk as soon as the silk has formed, you can prevent them from damaging your crop.
Sweet corn should be eaten or preserved within three days of harvest. If you can’t do that you should blanch them and freeze them until you’re ready to preserve or eat them. Dry corns should be left on the stock until just before the first frost. If you’re in a damp climate you can harvest the ears and stack them in a cool dry place.
So grow some organic corn and grow organic for life!