How to grow corn will take up a lot of space in your garden, but the taste of organic, fresh picked corn is usually worth the sacrifice. If you’re not sure which variety of corn you’d like to grow, or what type will do the best in your climate, speak with a local grower and find out which variety is the easiest to grow in your neck of the woods.
How to Grow Corn: Timing your Crop
How to grow corn is all about timing. You can lose an entire crop if you plant too early because corn is incredibly susceptible to frost. If you have decided to play it safe and plant seedlings indoors, do so only using a biodegradable pot, which will prevent shock that can occur easily with corn once it’s transplanted. The ideal temp for how to grow corn should be about sixty degrees. If the weather drops below forty degrees you can use gardening plastic to help lock in the heat.
So how much corn should I plant? For an adequate supply of fresh corn, plant about eight to sixteen plants per person.
Grow your corn in a wind protected area that gets plenty of sunshine. Corn will thrive the most in soil that contains high levels of nitrogen.
Promoting pollination is important. In order to do so you’ll need to avoid planting your corn in rows and instead plant them in blocks. These blocks should be about four feet wide. If you’re only planning on growing a few plants, you can pollinate them by hand in order to improve kernel formation.
If you’re planting corn early, the seeds should be sown about one inch deep. If you’re planting them later in the season and the weather is hot you’ll need to plant them two to three inches deep. Three to four seeds should be planted every six to fourteen inches. The seeds will germinate in about one to two weeks.
Be careful when weeding or caring for your corn plants, as their roots can spread out as much as a foot from the stalk. You’ll want to be careful not to hurt or disturb the roots, which can become damaged quite easily. Instead of weeding by hand and risking damage to the stalk’s roots, use a mulch or organic compost to prevent weed growth. Growing corn stalks cannot compete with weeds, which can quickly strangle and destroy the corn’s fragile root system.
Purchase a rain gauge and place it in your garden in order to prevent overwatering your corn. Corn should only need one inch of water a week. Too little water during the pollination process can result in poor growth and corn that’s missing kernels. Do not water the corn stalks from the top and instead use a soaker hose at the soil’s surface. Watering from above can remove the pollen from the flowering tops of the stalks.
Fertilizing, Watering and Harvesting your Corn
Once the corn stalks have reached six to eight inches in height, you’ll need to use a fertilizer that’s fish based. This should be repeated once the stalks have doubled in size.
When you’re growing corn it’s also important to protect them against your garden variety of pests including flea beetles and earworms. Earworms are by far the most common pest that can infest your garden. These insects will lay eggs on the corn. Once these eggs hatch the larvae will feed off the tips of the growing ears of corn. To prevent this type of pest avoid using a harsh chemical and instead make your own anti-earworm remedy at home. To use, take a spray bottle and fill it with ¼ cup of veggie oil or olive oil, one tablespoon of Dawn dish soap and fill the rest of the bottle with water. Spray the tips of each ear of corn using this mixture. You may need to reapply if it rains.
One month after the corn silks make an appearance you can begin checking the corn to determine if it’s ready to harvest. To do, pull the husk back slightly and press your nail into a few kernels. If a whitish liquid shoots out, it’s ready to be harvested. Each individual ear of corn needs to be checked, as they ripen individually. While some ears of corn may be ready to be harvested, other ears on the same stalk may need a few more days.