The Vegetable Garden

Growing Sweetcorn

Growing Sweetcorn
Modern varieties will give good results in our climate and Sweet Corn is another one of those vegetables that tastes so much better picked and cooked immediately.

Sweet Corn must be grown in a sunny spot sheltered from strong wind. As the plants are wind pollinated they should be grown in blocks with the plants 18in (45cm) apart.

Sow at 65-70°F (18-21°C). The plants hate root disturbance so sow indoors from late March to early May in peat pots; set the seeds one inch (2.5cm) deep. In mild areas you can sow seed directly outside from mid-to late May in soil pre-warmed for two weeks with cloches or clear plastic. Sow two seeds one inch  (2.5cm) deep, 18in (45cm) apart in rows 18in (45cm) apart; remove the weakest seedling. Leave the cloches or plastic over the plants until they touch the top.

Plant out indoor-raised plants at the end of May or early June depending on the weather. Stake tall varieties if the position is windy. When roots appear at the base of the stem cover with soil. Water well in dry weather; this is vital when the plants are flowering. Liquid feed when the cobs begin to swell. Tap the tops of the plants when the male flowers (tassels) open to help pollination; poor pollination will result in poorly filled cobs.

‘Supersweets’ such as Sugar Max, mustn't be grown with other varieties as cross-pollination will reduce the sweetness.

Test for ripeness when the tassels have turned chocolate brown; squeeze a grain between thumbnail and fingernail - if a watery liquid squirts out then it is unripe, if it is creamy the cob is ready. Twist the ripe cob from the stem.

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