Growing Sweetcorn In Your Vegetable Garden
Many vegetable gardeners think that sweetcorn can only be grown in warmer climates but that’s not true at all. That’s because newer sweetcorn varieties are continuously being bred for different growing conditions and these newer varieties are bred to be able to grow in cooler climates.
The soil should be dug in the autumn and you need to add plenty of compost to the soil. It’s vital that the soil is dug deeply and is very fertile The soil also needs good drainage for the sweetcorn to grow well. Sweetcorn won’t grow in wet boggy soil.
If you decide to start growing sweetcorn then you have to realise the plants are pretty tall and they need plenty of water.
Growing Sweetcorn – Sowing and Planting
It’s best to start your sweetcorn indoors in April. Fill an individual tray with multi-purpose compost and sow one individual seed in each one, you can also use peat pots instead of the tray. Cover the seed with some compost and water well. Keep the tray either in a greenhouse, under a cloche or on your windowsill.
You can sow sweetcorn outdoor but this is often not a very reliable way to sow, as you’ll find that birds and mice will try and eat them.
Once the plants are 3 or 4” you need to start hardening the plants off. On a warm day put the plants outside and bring them back inside in the evening, do this over several days and the plants start hardening off to the weather.
Sweetcorn are very easily killed off by frosts. So don’t plants the sweetcorn out until there is no risk of frosts in your area anymore.
It’s best for sweetcorn to be planted in a block, when the plants are planted in a block they find it easier to pollinate each other. If you plant sweetcorn in a row you’ll find that the plants do not pollinate very well. To grow sweetcron effectively you need wind pollination.
Each plant needs around 12 to 18” between them.
Growing Sweetcorn – Looking After the Sweetcorn Plants
Once the sweetcorn plants have really started growing they actually really don’t need much looking after. You will need to water the plants when the weather is dry. Also you need to keep the soil weed free – you do need to be careful not to disturb the sweetcorn roots. You can mulch between the plants to keep the plants weed free and to retain moisture.
When the sweetcorn tassels at the top of the plant are developed it will help to tap them as this will encourage the plants to pollinate each other.
If you are new to growing sweetcorn you might be worried about when to pick the corn. One way you know that the sweetcorn is ripening is when the tassels are turning brown. Also if the sweetcorn looks big then an easy way to make sure that the cob is ripe is to pull back the leaves (sheath) and see how yellow the sweetcorn is – you can also squeeze the corn kernel, and if the liquid is creamy the sweetcorn is ready to be picked.
To pick the sweetcorn just pull it gently off the plant. Pull of the surrounding leaves and cook. Home-grown sweetcorn is always more delicious then shop bought ones, that’s because once the sweet corn cobs have been picked the sugar within the cobs starts turning to starch, so the quicker after picking you can eat it the better tasting the sweet corn will be.
I hope this article has encouraged you to start growing sweetcorn in your garden and the video below shows you how to sow sweetcorn in an individual tray.