Ever thought about growing corn in the back yard? The following pointers will help get you started on how to successfully reap a fantastic harvest of the best cobs you have ever tasted.
There are now improved varieties to choose from, like the delicious Bodacious Hybrid, which makes growing corn much more successful. They yield better, taste sweeter and will store longer than their predecessors. Never again will you buy from the supermarket as there is no comparison in taste; they will become one of your favorite vegetables.
You need to have a fairly large garden, as only one or two ears per plant are produced. When growing corn, because it is wind pollinated, you should plant at least four short rows which should be 2-3 feet apart. You will have a greater success rate if you go for larger sowings, about eighty at a time, pollination then shouldn’t be a problem.
Do not start growing corn until the frosts in your area are gone. A minimum soil temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit is needed for the seed to germinate and they love lots of sunshine. Be aware that those tiny seeds grow from 6 foot up to 12 foot, so choose your plot carefully when growing corn.
It’s a good idea to use early, mid and late seeds at the initial sowing so as to increase your harvesting of this delicious vegetable. Then every 2 weeks sow mid and late varieties to keep a constant supply. You can start your seed in seed trays before planting out or sow directly into the plot you’ve prepared, making sure you’ve dug to at least a spades depth. Your seeds will appreciate a pH of 6.0 to 6.8 and they just love a moisture-retentive, well drained, organically rich soil.
Be sure to sow fresh seed as they do not keep for very long, last years would be a waste of time. Water needs to be appropriate, about 1-2 inches a week, don’t let them dry out. Use liquid fertilizer when the male flower and female silks arrive and repeat this every two weeks.
Sweet corn consists mostly of sugar, be aware that the kernels convert to starch very quickly after its prime harvest stage, so you need to recognize when to pick the cobs. 2-3 weeks after the silk first appears is a rule of thumb, however, you can take a peek and peel back the husks. To see if they are ready just push your thumbnail in, if a milky liquid oozes out then you can pick them.
The cobs are best eaten as soon as possible after harvest, as the sugars begin to convert to starch in the kernals almost immediately which reduces the quality and flavor.
When growing corn you need to be aware of it the problems you may encounter. Here are some of them:
- A smut fungus can result in smut galls forming on growing corn causing the kernels to swell and turn black. To avoid this use resistant hybrids or varieties although it is interesting to note that in Mexico and Brazil it is cultivated as a delicacy called huitlacoche. Stewarts bacterial leaf blight or Stewarts wilt is a disease which causes the plants to loose leaf tissue and is transmitted by the flea beetle; again you should buy disease resistant varieties.
- Borers, earworms, flea beetle and other pests must be controlled if growing corn is to be successful, your garden center can sell the appropriate spray, be sure to follow the instructions given.
- Deer and raccoons are some of the pests that can be a problem when growing corn in your garden. The best method of deterring these is to install an electric fence.
- Birds can cause damage by pecking at the cobs; to combat this try planting variety with tight husks. Also, you can try these other methods of scaring the birds away.