Maize was the chief cereal grown in Central and South America long before Christopher Columbus arrived in the 'New World'. It was probably grown up to 10,000 years ago, and we have archaeological evidence of this dating back 5,000 years. By the early 16th century sweetcorn had found its way to Europe.
Sweetcorn is actually a grain rather than a vegetable, the Cherokees used maize to treat kidney stones, while the Navajo used it to ease sore throats. Many native Americans used the leaves as 'chewing gum'. The Mayans worshipped the maize god for thousands of years. In their mythology the god was beheaded at harvest time, but came back to life at the start of the next growing season. Read more
How to grow Sweetcorn
Sow sweetcorn seeds individually in small pots of moist seed compost 1cm/½in deep. Place in warmth 15-18°C/60-65°F. Grow on under cool, light conditions, but not in bright sun. Gradually accustom young plants to conditions outside for 2-3 weeks before planting out to their cropping positions when danger of frost has passed. To ensure good pollination, plant in blocks, allowing 45cm/18in each way between plants.
Alternatively, seed can be sown direct in the cropping positions. Water these positions well, then sow two seeds 2cm /1in deep at stations 45cm /18in apart each way. Keep soil moist until seedlings are well established. When they are around 8cm/3in high, discard the weaker at each station and leave the stronger to develop. Do not transplant weaker seedlings, as they do not tend to thrive. Harvest when the 'silks' on the cob turn brown and a kernel exudes milky juice when pressed with a thumbnail. Show less