Sweet corn is super tasty, and it can be used to make all kinds of fantastic dishes. That said, corn can be very expensive in the grocery store. Moreover, you don’t know what pesticides are used during the growing process.
Therefore, you might consider growing it on your own. It might seem challenging, but it’s actually straightforward. This article discusses how to grow sweet corn, and as you will see, it’s a relatively simple process.
How to Grow Sweet Corn: Step by Step
1. Choose the Type of Sweet Corn to Grow
The first step is to choose the type of sweet corn to grow. A fan favorite is Argent sweet corn, which is quite sweet. Other popular varieties for home gardens include Iochief, Luther Hill, Silver Queen, and Sweet Sunshine.
Each type has its own distinct properties, so choose wisely. All varieties have similar needs for growing; however, they may differ slightly from one type to another.
2. Preparing the Planting Site for Sweet Corn
There are a few things to know about preparing the planting site for sweet corn. First, growing corn needs nutrients, so the best thing to do is to work in aged manure or compost into the soil in the fall before spring. If you do this, the soil will be ready by spring. However, if this is not feasible, mix in your compost right before planting.
Use high-quality planting soil that has a fairly high NPK content. Of course, you need the right kind of soil, and you should also ensure good drainage.
Corn needs a lot of water, but the roots can also become waterlogged. Root rot is a problem that corn may suffer if the soil is consistently too wet. The soil should drain well yet also be moist. Therefore, adding perlite or coco coir will aid with drainage.
In addition, corn likes a lot of sunlight. Therefore, pick a spot that gets plenty of sunlight daily.
3. When to Plant Sweet Corn
It is best started outdoors for growing sweet corn. It is not a plant you want to start growing indoors and then transplant outdoors. Sweet corn roots are susceptible; even minor damage can kill the whole plant during transplanting.
Therefore, directly sow the corn seeds outdoors in the soil. Unfortunately, corn doesn’t like the cold, so wait until about two weeks after the last frost date.
You can check a planting calendar to see when the last frost date in your area is. That said, planting corn as soon as possible after the last frost date is vital because corn takes a long time to grow.
The soil should be at least 60° Fahrenheit to plant corn. However, the sweeter the corn, the warmer it should be. For really sweet types of corn, the soil should be around 65° Fahrenheit.
4. How to Plant Sweet Corn
First, you have to germinate your seeds. To germinate them faster, wrap them in moist paper towels and put them in a plastic bag for 24 hours before planting.
Then, plant the seeds about two inches under the soil’s surface. Moreover, plant the seeds about 5 inches apart and create rows of seeds. Each row should be anywhere from 30 to 36 inches apart.
Not all your corn seeds will grow. Moreover, once they reach about three to four inches in height, you should thin them out.
One tip is to make several shorter rows instead of one or two long rows. Also, planting corn slightly closer together allows for easy pollination.
You can add a balanced 10, 10, 10 fertilizer to the soil. However, if you have high-quality soil, you can skip this step. Instead, now that your corn is planted give it a good deal of water.
5. Watering and Fertilizing Sweet Corn + General Care
As mentioned above, sweetcorn needs a good deal of water, but the amount will depend on the amount of rainfall your area gets and the temperature and humidity. However, sweet corn plants should get about one inch of water every week. Therefore, keep an eye on the rainfall, and supplement the rest as needed.
In addition, water your sweet corn plants in the early morning or in the evening. Do not water these plants when the sun is directly shining down on them; this can cause moisture to evaporate too quickly.
Also, don’t get the corn plants wet because this will increase the chance of fungus and pests taking hold. In addition, water, combined with sunlight, might burn the leaves.
Give your corn plants a high nitrogen fertilizer when they are 8 inches tall. Then, do so again when they are around 18 inches tall.
At the same time, once the plants reach around 6 inches, place mulch on the soil to reduce water evaporation and keep any weeds in check.
Once your corn plants reach about a foot in height, create relatively large soil mounds around their bases. This will help keep the corn stalks upright in a strong wind. After that, there is not really much you need to do other than wait for it to grow.
6. Harvesting Sweet Corn
It can be a challenge to know when to harvest your sweet corn. You are looking for tassels that are turning brown with kernels that are full and milky. The corn ears should be very rounded or blunt at the edges but not pointed.
To test if the corn is ready, take a kernel and pierce it with something sharp. If it’s milky and juicy, it’s ready to be picked.
This stage is very short and only lasts for about two days. Therefore, finding the ideal harvest date is essential. To harvest, pull the ears of corn down and twist them off the stalks.
The Bottom Line
Now you have what you need to know about growing sweet corn at home. It’s not an overly complicated process, but it does take some effort and dedication.