Corn is a popular crop to grow, particularly throughout America. However, it isn’t the most convenient crop, especially due to the space it needs.
So why is it that many gardeners still choose to grow corn at home, even though it takes up a lot of room?
It’s all to do with the taste!
Keep on reading to find out how to grow corn in your garden and why it’s so much better than corn purchased from your local store.
Fresh, homegrown corn tastes incredible compared with shop-bought. This is to do with the process that corn goes through where the sugar begins to turn to starch as soon as it is picked.
As corn generally takes a lot of time being transported from the farm to your local shop, it may have been weeks since the corn was picked to you eating it at home.
This means that much of the sugar has turned to starch, taking away the supersweet flavor. Compare this with corn harvested directly from your garden and cooked right away, the sugar hasn’t had long to transform into starch and hence provides you with a fuller, sweeter flavor.
What Does Corn Need To Grow?
Before planting your corn seeds, there are a few things you need to consider first:
Corn prefers to be grown in full sunlight. Ensure you have an area in your garden that has access to sunlight but, also shelter. As the corn grows tall, it can easily be broken and damaged in strong winds. Picking a sheltered spot in your garden will prevent this from happening.
- Soil Condition
When growing corn, it is best to ensure your soil is pre-prepared before planting. The soil needs to be full of nutrients, and offer good drainage. Corn is a heavy feeder and requires lots of nutrients as it grows. Ensure to turn over your soil and add nutrient-rich compost before planting your corn seeds.
Corn requires a warm climate to grow with ideal soil temperatures reaching 60 degrees (18 degrees Celsius). If planted before this, there is a risk that your seeds will not germinate.
Corn is a thirsty crop that requires regular watering as it grows, particularly in dry weather and when the corn is flowering. The soil needs to remain moist, but not waterlogged. When seeds are just planted, they will need watering regularly, several times a week if not every day. After the seedlings have grown a few inches in height, your corn plants can be watered 1-2 times per week.
How To Grow Corn In Your Garden
Now you know what conditions your corn plants need to thrive, here are some step-by-step instructions to help you grow corn.
First, you need to decide whether you want to start your corn plants inside or plant directly outside.
If planting indoors, you need to start your seeds in seed trays in mid-April. In 2-3 weeks, the seedlings will be ready to plant in pots or directly in your garden.
When planting directly outdoors, you need to wait until the end of April or even as late as the end of May. Ensure to only plant outside once the soil temperature has consistently reached 60 degrees and there is no risk of a late frost.
Each seed needs to be sown at least 1 inch deep with a 10-12 inches distance between each seed.
It is best to plant your corn seeds in blocks rather than rows. Corn is not fertilized by pollinators, but by the wind instead. If planted in rows, it is unlikely the wind will blow the seeds so that they catch onto another corn plant. Whereas when planted in a block, this increases the chance of cross-pollination.
As your corn grows, it is important to dedicate time to removing weeds as this minimizes competition for nutrients in the soil. With corn being a heavy feeder, it needs access to as many nutrients as possible.
It’s a good idea to add fertilizer to your corn crops when the stalks grow to approximately 6 inches tall, 2 feet, and again when they begin to flower.
To protect the roots as they develop also, many gardeners recommend adding mulch or planting ground covering plants. Corn is often planted along with a range of companion plants, the best-being beans, and squash, known as the three sisters when all planted together.
These three crops planted together work in harmony offering support to each other and aiding in the growth of each crop.
As the corn grows, it helps provide stable support for climbing beans. In turn, the beans release nitrogen into the soil, which corn is a heavy feeder of.
Squash, on the other hand, is a low-growing crop. It spreads out across the soil acting as a natural sun protector for the soil. This keeps the soil cool and moist, protecting the corn’s roots, but also lowers the chance of weeds growing. In return, as the corn grows tall, the leaves provide shade for the squash below.
Each of the three sisters work together helping to save space and resources and providing natural support and nutrients to one another.
To ensure you have a regular supply of fresh corn, plant a fresh supply of seeds every 2-3 weeks during the growing season from May to mid-summer.
As corn is an annual plant, you will need to dig up your old crops and plant new seeds in subsequent years.
Follow these step-by-step instructions and top tips above to help you gain a full crop of corn each year.
For more top tips on growing a successful vegetable garden, take a look at these posts below: