Purchased corn, whether on the cob or in a can can’t compare for taste! Sweet corn is easy to grow in the home garden with just a little know how and a few corn facts.
1.Corn needs warm soil temperatures (50° - 65° Fahrenheit) to germinate.
2.Warm temperatures cause sugars in corn to turn into starches and results in loss of sweetness and creamy texture. Sugars also begin converting to starches immediately after harvest.
3.Sweet corn is divided into three types according to its sweetness: (SU) normal sugary or standard sweet corn, (SE) sugary enhanced, and (Sh2) super sweet.
Standard Sweet Corn (SU)
Normal sugary is the traditional variety of sweet corn. Less sweet than the other types, it will tolerate low temperatures at planting time.
Sugary Enhanced (SE)
(SE) corn is the preferred choice of many of today’s home gardeners. Sugary enhanced is sweeter than standard corn and retains sweetness longer than either of the other types. While not as sweet as super sweet, it has a creamier texture and tolerates lower soil temperatures.
Super sweet (Sh2) kernels differ from the other two types of sweet corn by their shriveled, small appearance. Although the sweetest of the three, (Sh2) needs a soil temperature of at least 65° F to germinate. Another drawback of (Sh2) is that its texture is drier and its sugars more rapidly convert to starch after harvest.
Sow your seed in a very rich garden soil and give it access to ample moisture. Because corn is a high-nitrogen feeder, even the best soils may need to the addition of aged manure or nutrient rich compost to produce an optimum crop.
Plant corn in two or more rows for pollination to be successful. Plant kernels in hills of three, spaced about a foot a part with rows three feet apart. Plant kernels from one to 1 ½ inches deep or ¾ inch deep for super sweet types. After germination, preserve the most robust plant in each hill, discarding any other seedlings that have sprouted.
Water rows well after planting, especially in the case of super sweet kernels, which need to absorb more water to germinate. Keep plants well watered throughout the growing season. Corn needs moisture in order to form tassels and silk and to develop healthy ears.
Cultivate frequently to control weeds, but shallowly so as not to damage stalks or roots.
Corn is ready to harvest when silk becomes dry at the ends, ears feel full, and a thumbnail puncture produces a milky-white substance. The sap from under ripe corn will appear watery. Each stalk should produce one large ear of corn. Many varieties also develop a second, smaller ear. Generally, from the time the silk is visible to harvest is about 20 days.
Watch your crop closely after the first silks appear. This is the “milk stage” which lasts for only about a week. The best corn is always the freshest corn! Grill it, steam it, roast it, microwave it --- enjoy it!
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