How to Grow Sweet Corn
How to Grow Sweet Corn
Sweet Corn – Zea mays
Sweet corn is a distinct type of maize with a sugary fruit reserve. It is used as a vegetable and should not be confused with starchy types of maize used for fodder.
This crop is unsuited to high altitudes and places exposed to sea winds. Clay soils are unsuitable, medium and light ground being best. Land where manure was applied for a previous crop is suitable. Where really lighthas to be used, manure can be worked in before the crop goes in, while an organic fertiliser can be raked in before sowing.
Where small quantities of seed are involved, it can be sown in large 60 size pots from the second week in May onwards. It is unwise to sow before, in order to prevent the roots becoming pot bound, which causes stunting. Sowing in boxes cannot be recommended because of damage to the roots when transplanting is done.
Seed can be sown in cold frames where the plants can be left to mature or cloches are useful for covering direct to the ground sowings.
For uncovered sowings in fine soil after frosts have passed, draw out furrows up to 5 cm deep. Drop in two seeds at 38 cm intervals or singly 23 to 30cm apart. For the latest sorts make the spacing 52 to 60cm apart.
Thinning is done at the five leaf stage and all unhealthy or insect attacked plants should be noed out. Sweet corn which is wind and insect pollenated, carries male and female flowers on the same plant. Successful pollenation requires a fairly dry atmosphere. The best crops are secured where the plants are grown in blocks, because the pollen can easily reach other plants instead of being lost which nearly always happens when the plants are grown in single straight rows. In exposed gardens, the plants should be slightly earthed up. Make sure the roots do not become dry.
The grains set after fertilisation and become the edible ‘cob’. Proper harvesting influences the yield and it is necessary to gather carefully so that only fully developed cobs are cut or picked. Once the green husks are pulled aside, the way is open for earwigs to enter. It is therefore, most unwise to strip off the husk to find out if the ‘corn’ is ready.
The cobs will ripen in succession and should be cut before the seeds become hard. If a creamy solution springs from the grains when pressed with a fingernail, they are ripe. The cobs are trimmed by removing untidy ‘silk’ or broken outer husks.
Keep the cobs in the cool until they are used. They can be eaten on the stalk, or by cooking the grains in a little boiling margarine, can be made into ‘popcorns’.
Varieties: Golden Bantam, early sweet and tender. Prima, fourteen days earlier than Golden Bantam. Golden Standard, a heavy cropper, tall growing, but not so good flavour. Reliable new varieties include Kelvedon Glory and Xtra Sweet, a very early F1 hybrid of good flavour.