Over the next few weeks, we will be looking at some of the summer plants and what you need to know to grow them successfully in your gardens at home.
This week, I feel inspired to start with corn.
Whilst a lot of people shy away from planting corn, I absolutely love growing it for the pure satisfaction of eating the fresh crunchy delicious organic cobs sprinkled with sea salt and slathered in delicious organic butter. Yum Yum Yum.
Corn can be a pretty easy crop to grow as long as you have the correct requirements. It is very easy to interplant with cucumbers, as the stems will serve as a support for the cucumbers to grow up.
Corn requires the following conditions for the ideal recipe for success:
- full sun in a sheltered spot
- a fair amount of water in the hot summer months
- water-retentive soil, full of nutrients
- deep containers or a well turned over bed for their big root system.
Top tips for preparing your soil to grow corn:
The most important thing to do to grow successful corn is to make sure your soil is very well prepared with loads of manure, preferably chicken manure.
Corn also requires your soil to be water retentive, so digging in a couple of buckets of Bokashi prior to sowing is the best idea, as Bokashi in the soil improves the water holding capacity.
Top tips for choosing the spot and the time to plant corn:
Plant away from the prevailing wind for best results.
I always grow from seed, as most seedlings available in the shops have stunted root growth due to being planted in shallow trays, which is a terrible start for your plants.
If you decide to sow by seed, it is imperative this is done before the end of November to be sure it has a long enough growing season. If planting by seedling you have up until December. I usually sow a few extra seeds just in case they don’t all germinate.
You can expect that a plant with enough food will form properly and produce anywhere from 2- 4 cobs.
Did you know: When you a buy a corn in the shop and the corn pearls haven’t formed at the top, this is because the food and water in the soil ran out for the plant.
Once your seedlings have appeared, cover with mulch and a net until they are about 20cm high, as birds are particularly fond of these plants.
Top tips on how to sow corn:
When sowing your corn, it is advisable to plant in blocks and not rows, as this enables more pollination of flowers and if a strong wind does blow in they will support each other. You can stagger your corn harvest by planting early and late maturing varieties. Your corn will be ripen when the tassels at the top turn a golden colour and your cob has started to move away from the stem. Pluck your corn, soak in water with the husk on and put it on the bbq. Nothing more satisfying.
Companion planting with corn
These days with the awareness of chemical sprays, many people want to grow more and more of their own food. Remember growing anything is possible when you give it the right conditions. Corn can also be grown in a deep container if you have no garden.
Beans grow well interplanted with corn too, especially runner beans or pole beans as these will wind up the stalk and you will save space! Remember that beans will fix nitrogen in the soil as an added source of food for the corn.
Corns companions in the garden bed are beans, cucumbers, sunflowers, pumpkins and zucchini, celery and potatoes. Corn does not like to be planted near tomatoes, so make sure to plant these in another bed.