You can start growing sweet corn organically in your home garden, if you have lots of space available. You can start growing sweet corn in your garden or anywhere within your property for enhancing the beauty and also for enjoying the great taste of home grown sweet corn.
Sweet corn ( Zea mays ) is actually a cereal with a high sugar content in it. It is also known by many other different names such as pole corn , sugar corn and sweetcorn . Unlike the field corn varieties (which are harvested when the kernels are dry and mature), sweet corn is picked when immature (milk stage). And it is mainly used and eaten as a vegetable rather than grain. Sweet corn is also softer than the field varieties and has a pleasantly sweet taste.
Growing sweet corn is relatively easy and it is actually a warm season crop. So if you have space available in your garden, consider growing sweet corn organically.
How to Grow Sweet Corn
A long and frost-free season is necessary for growing sweet corn. Sweet corn plants are relatively hardy and they are actually very easy to grow. However, here we are describing everything about growing sweet corn organically in home garden.
First, Choose a Variety
There are actually 3 types of sweet corn available namely normal, sugar-enhanced and super sweet. Each one of these 3 types contains a different level of sucrose, changing the flavor and texture of the corn. Generally the sweeter types will stay sweeter for longer time after harvesting.
Whichever type you decide to grow, it’s a good idea to check with other local home gardeners to see what varieties have a good track record in your area.
And within these 3 types, there are several varieties available. Some popular sweet corn varieties are Challenger Crisp n Sweet, Lochief, Pristine and Silver Queen.
After choosing the right variety, you have to purchase the seeds. Sweet corn is grown throughout the world. So the seeds should be available in your area easily.
Best Time for Growing Sweet Corn
Sweet corn is a warm season crop. So ensure the soil temperature is above 16° C for successful germination. But if you are living somewhere where soil temperature is below this level, consider using black plastic cover for making the ground warm.
Preparing the Soil
Sweet corn grows well in loamy soil with the availability of full sun and well drainage system. Corn plants are actually picky about their soil, so you have to make the soil perfectly for better growth of the plants. Till the soil and break up the planting area. And then add well-rotted aged manure or compost into the soil. You should prepare the soil in this way before planting the seeds (at least 1 month or more). And before planting, till slightly again and level the soil.
While planting sweet corn seeds, ensure the soil temperature is above 16° C for better germination. Mark the rows by staking the bed to create rows, and then sow seeds. Sow seeds about 1.5-2 inches deep and about 4-6 inches apart. And the rows should be 2.5 to 3 feet apart. Water the beds once the seeds are planted.
Plan your plot perfectly for sufficient pollination. Don’t plant 2 long rows, rather, plant corn block of at least 4 rows. Soak the seeds in fresh water for about 24 for hours. This will help in better germination of the seeds. Generally the sweet corn seeds germinate within 10-14 days after sowing.
Sweet corn is one of the easiest plants to grow in home garden and it requires less care. Taking additional care of the sweet corn plants will help them to grow well. Here we are describing more about the caring steps for growing sweet corn.
Feeding/Fertilizing: If you prepare the soil perfectly by following the above mentioned ways, then you don’t have to provide additional fertilizers. Although fertilizing the soil during planting time with aged manure or homemade compost will help the plants to grow rapidly.
Watering: You don’t have to water the plants daily for growing sweet corn. But the soil must be well drained and able to keep consistent moisture for better growth of the plants. So water the plants when the soil is dry. Corn plants have shallow roots, so watering is a must during dry conditions. You can water the plants at a rate of 5 gallons per square meter.
Mulching: Mulching will help to reduce evaporation, and eventually it will retain moisture in the soil. It will also help to reduce weeds from your garden. Hay, grass clippings, straw or compost can be used as mulch.
Controlling Weeds: Weeds are harmful for any plant and they consume most of the nutrients from the soil. So controlling weeds is very important for growing sweet corn. Hoe between the rows for controlling weeds, but be very careful because the sweet corn plants have very shallow roots that can be damaged while hoeing.
Thinning: Sweet corn plants will not grow well if they are overcrowded. So thinning the plants will be good for their better growth. Thin the plants when they are about 3 to 4 inches tall, and ensure the plants are 8-12 inches apart.
Pests and Diseases
Like many other vegetables, corn plants are susceptible to some common garden pests. Cutworms, cucumber beetles and flea beetles are some common pests for the corn plants. You can easily get rid of all these pests by applying homemade organic pesticides or insecticides.
The field corn varieties are harvested when the kernels are dry and mature. While the sweet corn is generally picked when immature (milk stage). It is used as a vegetable, rather than grain. You can start harvesting sweet corn when the tassels begin to turn brown and cobs start to swell. The kernels should be full and milky during this stage. And this is the best time for harvesting sweet corn.